Improve the sound of your music!
Get our opinion on EQ, compression and limiting. We will teach you methods and strategies for making your masters sound as good as possible. We do this by breaking it down to the fundamental principles.
We have made study questions for most lessons to help you absorb the information. You can also ask questions in the comment sections within the lessons or email us.
The examples in the lessons are demonstrated using our Mastering Starter Pack for Reaper that we created specifically for this course.
This course is focused around working in-the-box using plugins and listening in headphones, because that’s what we prefer nowadays. However, the information in this course will be equally relevant if you have speakers and analog outboard – that’s where we came from!
Part 1 – Getting Started
1.2 The Mastering Starter Pack for Reaper
Installation instructions. This is a configuration pack for Reaper that we use to demonstrate things in the course. If you want to try the starter pack outside of the course we have also made it available here.
1.3 Plugins for mastering
Some tips on plugins that we use ourselves when mastering.
1.4 Monitoring for mastering
About monitoring for mastering and a practical solution for using headphones for mastering.
Part 2 – Basic Methods and Strategies
2.1 The mastering workflow
Explanation of a workflow for mastering for online distribution, from importing the mixes to the final quality control.
2.2 Finding reference tracks
About different types of reference tracks and how you can use them to assess your own master.
2.3 EQ basics
The must-know basics for using equalization when mastering. You can watch this short lesson on YouTube.
2.4 EQ matching to a reference track
See and hear examples of how you can set the tonal balance of a master by matching the EQ to a reference track.
2.5 Compression in mastering
Methods and strategies for using compression on a full mix when mastering. Learn how we set and evaluate the attack, release, ratio and threshold when compressing.
2.6 Loudness and target levels
This lesson is about loudness. We discuss loudness in general, loudness targets, and loudness normalization.
2.7 Using peak limiting
Methods and strategies for using peak limiting. Learn about how we set the threshold, ceiling, look-ahead, release and other settings, by balancing the four common audible artifacts from peak limiting.
2.8 Editing and exporting
How to do the final editing and exporting of your master files.
2.9 Quality control
How we think about quality control.
Part 3 – Advanced Methods and Strategies
3.1 Resonances and build-ups
What they are, what kind of problems they can bring and how to reduce them, plus some examples.
3.2 Sibilance and de-essing
Regarding sibilance and uneven high-end and how to deal with that using deessing and dynamic EQ.
3.3 Low-end strategies
A few different tricks to get more clarity and stability in the low-end, using compression, dynamic EQ and saturation.
3.4 Compression examples
Learn how to listen for the sound of compression and tweak the settings, with several examples.
3.5 Peak limiting examples
More examples of peak limiter artifacts and how to deal with them.
Part 4 – Mastering Examples
4.1 Mastering example – “Happy” by The Apartment Years
In this lesson we’re having a look at a full mastering example.
Our experience with mastering
We have been mastering professionally for 21 and 15 years and started out in a traditional mastering studio. We were fortunate to have access to high-end analog equipment and acoustically treated control rooms with big loudspeakers right from the start. In essence, we learnt the craft of mastering in a very old school way. In the years following, we proceeded to build two studios on our own using high-end analog outboard. During this period we could see the plugins getting so much better. As time went by, we were increasingly replacing analog with digital tools and our workflow was rapidly advancing during these years.
In conclusion, we have now refined our way of working to using headphones and mastering in-the-box. This has surprisingly turned out to be the method that gives us the absolute best feedback from our clients.
Between 2009 and 2018 we taught mastering at university level in Sweden. During this time we discussed mastering techniques with many young engineers and learnt to see audio mastering from their perspective. This inspired us to create this course.
We can tell you that mastering is nowadays much easier to learn because of the modern tools available!
Q: How does the course content differ from the content on your YouTube channel?
A: We try to lean more towards explaining theory and concepts on YouTube, and more towards hands-on examples in the course, where we also dive deeper into the details. There will inevitable be some overlap between the two, since we need to both explain theory within the course as well as use examples to illustrate concepts on YouTube.
Q: Are there any ear training exercises in the course?
A: No, the mastering course doesn’t have any ear training exercises like the ones we have in the free ear training course. The course is focused around how to think when using EQ, compression and limiting, and what to listen for when tweaking the parameters in order to find the best sounding settings. We believe that the course will be very useful in terms of pointing out things to listen for, and hopefully turn every time you listen to music into a bit of ear training.
Q: Do we have to use CanOpener for crossfeed?
A: Absolutely not. We suggest using crossfeed when mastering in headphones. What plugin you use will be up to you. We will give you our settings for CanOpener because that is what we use and show you how we think about setting that up.
Q: Will I be able to watch this course many times?
A: Yes you will. You will get a login to our site and have an account on here and can watch all videos as much as you want to.
Q: Will I get in personal contact with you?
A: Yes, right now you will get that in the form of email support and in the discussions within the course.
Q: Will you tell me exactly how to use this information in my own project / DAW / system?
A: No. In this course we aim to help you make better decisions regarding your own masters. We show you EQ, compression and limiting techniques that we use ourselves everyday, as well as some more advanced techniques. We assume that you will want to work on your own projects in your own systems. We will demonstrate everything using Reaper and you might need to “translate” some things to your own system.
Q: Can I find the information in the course anywhere else?
A: This information is based on our experience over the years. We ourselves have never taken a mastering course but have been searching for knowledge, built two studios on our own, and worked with mastering for 22 and 16 years. We have also taught mastering at a Swedish university for 10 years. Our hope is that this course will speed up the learning curve for others.
Q: Why are you sharing your knowledge on mastering, this seems too good to be true, usually mastering engineers are secretive????
A: We have had our own company and style of working since 2009 and before then we were working as employees in another top-notch mastering firm in Scandinavia. The last ten years our setup has advanced to be one of the most advanced we have seen and we want to live in a world where information is available. This is also why we created the YouTube channel.
Q: Will you be sad if I use the money back guarantee?
A: The money back guarantee is an important step to having a course with 100% satisfied participants. We have always put our customers first in our mastering business and will keep the same spirit here. We really appreciate all feedback though and will ask you for that when refunding.
Q: Do you have any deals for plugins or equipment to give students discount if they enroll in your course?
A: No, we don’t have any affiliate deals at all at the moment, but we’ll look into it at a later time. Right now we are simply recommending things that we use ourselves in our daily work as mastering engineers. :) The course is mostly about methods and strategies, and less about specific equipment.
7 Day Money Back Guarantee
We surely want you to be happy with this course and your feedback is very important to us!
If you after all feel that it is not what you expected, simply contact Thomas or Sofia within 7 days of purchasing the course. Let us know what you did not like about it and we will refund your entire order. No hard feelings!
Common questions about mastering
Mastering is the thing you do after recording and mixing. During mastering everything seems to fall into place. You can also say that the mixes get that final polish that make them shine.
You will also create the final master and do quality control. The step after mastering is then CD manufacturing or online distribution.
Yes, audio mastering is necessary! You do these three very important things in mastering:
- You optimize the sound of the mixes
- You create the final masters
- You do quality control
If you are a mixing engineer you may choose to do the mastering yourself. You can also choose to send it to a dedicated mastering engineer.
In any case, it really is a logical part of music production that happens some way or the other.
Historically, you needed very expensive equipment to be able to do proper mastering. In addition to that, it was a very “secret” area of expertise. Mostly, it was the specialized studios that had access to the knowledge and equipment to do the job. You basically had to leave it to the professional mastering engineers.
Nowadays, mastering is a much simpler process. You can master using good headphones, an audio interface and a laptop and get great results.
You will still have to train your hearing and understand different genres. The good news is that you nowadays have access to a lot of music through the Internet. Mastering engineers are also increasingly opening up about how to do these things. In truth, it is just a matter of finding good sources.
The simplest and in our opinion most effective way to learn mastering is to:
- Get a proper monitoring setup using headphones and cross-feed
- Listen to a lot of music and learn how to recognise great sounding records
- Learn a simple mastering workflow within your DAW
- Learn the basic mastering techniques
- Practise mastering and compare your results to your reference tracks