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Mastering Mastering

I recently finished mastering my upcoming single, “I’m a Reader.” I’d never mastered anything on a laptop, so there was a bit of trial and error involved. My first try was too loud. It’s called hypercompression, and here’s what that looks like.

Hypercompression

I loved it loud. The problem, though–at least as I understand it–is that this loudness will make the music sound worse when streaming services use loudness normalization to make everything play at the same volume. I removed the maximizer from the equation, but the song became too quiet (below).

Too Quiet

I had clearly overcompensated (despite this, the waveform clipped twice, as the two red lines indicate). While the song sounded nice at a high volume, it now had too much headroom. I decided to give one of my preset combinators a try, and here’s what happened:

Preset Combinator

Clearly, things were improving, but I still missed some of the oomph that the original hypercompressed master had. Using the same preset combinator I’d just used, I ditched the preset controls and tweaked away. I liked the sound, and the waveform looked more like what I’d had in mind.

Preset Removed

It was a keeper. I have a lot to learn before I can ever master mastering, but I’m light years ahead of where I was a few weeks ago. The thing is, you do your best and keep learning. I’ve got a lot more music to put out. Look for “I’m a Reader” to be available shortly.

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