Sequencing an album, the correct way, can quite literally be the difference between a successful album and an unsuccessful album. A online mastering engineer will be one of the last people to make any final changes and adjustments to your audio soundtrack before it’s released to the public.
A mastering engineer applies the final equalizer, stereo imaging, compression to an audio piece, and more before the audio is distributed. Mastering engineers are skilled in assisting artists to finalize their piece of music into something they feel is ready for a wider audience.
Sending off your soundtrack to a mastering engineer is never a bad idea when you want peace of mind in knowing that your audio is the best it can be and has been checked over by a professional sound technician. Read on below to find out more about how a mastering engineer sequences an album and how to communicate your requirements for the perfect sound.
How a Mastering Engineer Sequences an Album
A mastering engineer takes a musical audio piece and prepares it with final touches and edits for distribution in marketing to consumers. For example, a mastering engineer can mix your sound and remove imbalances in the sound quality to suit system playback in most, or many speaker systems.
Thinking of getting your track sequenced by a mastering engineer? We understand it can be a stressful time for you but that you also want to know you’ve done everything you can to produce a sound that’s appreciated by your listeners.
Here is what a Mastering Engineer does to sequence an album:
- Balances the audio sound so that the volume on each track is exact and level
- Makes the audio playable on all or most media and sound systems
- Removes glitches and faults in the sound recording
- Adjusts the time gap between songs so that the flow is neutral
- Equalizes the of each track
- Provides compression for balanced volume in all sounds, music, voice, instruments
- Resolves quality in the sound by mastering the engineering of the product for your final edits
The musical art that you produce, might need a few tweaks before it’s ready for radio and other audio platforms and that’s where the mastering engineer comes into the picture.
If you want your tracks to stand out in terms of trends, performance, and technical delivery, a mastering engineer is what you need for your album to be a success.
What to Tell Your Mastering Engineer
With so much equipment available today and numerous mastering engineers to choose from, it’s hard to know what to tell your mastering engineer exactly what you want from them. You might not even know yet what it is you want from them.
Mastering engineers don’t necessarily have to have a degree and there are no official requirements in place for working as an audio mastering engineer. Through experience, years of practice, production skills and, domain knowledge, mastering engineers can give your track the final edit it needs. But they need to know all the details first to get the right sound for you.
Because not all mastering engineers have quality training and education in the field, you’ll find that not all of these professionals will have the same views on how audio tracks should sound. It’s important for you and your album that you find someone who listens to you and understands what your preferences are.
You need to tell your mastering engineer what you want from them as well as provide them with all the details of each track, the album, and the order in which you want the tracks to go in. Without even the most basic information, a mastering engineer can’t provide you with your visualized finished product. They aren’t mind readers after all, not the ones we know anyway!
Your mastering engineer needs to know the following basics before they can get to work on your track:
- Album Name
- Order of tracks
- Track titles
- International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)
- Send high-quality mixes, no MP3s
- WAV files are typically the preferred format for most mastering engineers but always check with them first
- And significant notes you feel are important to add to the quality of your sound (read more about what notes to give your mastering engineer below)
Even if you don’t know exactly what it is you want from your sound technician, a mastering engineer knows the trends and the techniques to skillfully produce all the technical finishing touches to your audio piece.
So that your sound matches the quality audio you hear on the radio, a mastering engineer will make appropriate changes to the audio without losing any of the hard work you put into it in the first place. It’s not a mastering engineer’s job to completely alter your sound or “vibe”, but to enhance it and make it distributable.
What Kind of Notes to Give Your Mastering Engineer
Mastering engineers might be perfectionists when it comes to sound and audio recordings and mixings, but mastering engineers are artists too. They want to know how you want your sound to be heard by your listeners, how you visualize your audience drawing in your music.
Here are just a few ideas of what you might want to tell your mastering engineer:
- “I don’t want any gaps between each track and would rather they fade into each other like a DJ might do a mix at a nightclub”
- “I want no gaps between each track to be minimal, possibly two-three seconds, so they listeners don’t lose the feeling of the songs”
- “I want the fade out to last for 30 seconds”
- “I want the bass to fade out behind the treble in the chorus”
It’s also a great idea to tell your mastering engineer who you typically listen to and who you would like your sound to be similar to.
- “I like the way the music sounds behind Kendrick Lamar’s Humble”
- “Galantis have a good sound to their Tell Me You Love Me track, I’d like a similar sound to that”
- “The way the sound in Sunflower by Post Malone and Swae Lee starts off gentle and slowly gets the beat going is a favorite of mine. Could we put that in track 7?”
Your mastering engineer might ask for more details regarding who you like the sound of and might also ask for a list of your favorite audio tracks so they can get a better idea of how you listen to music and the sounds you tend to veer towards when listening for pleasure rather than for work.
It’s by doing this, that your mastering engineer will be able to master the sound into something you will love to listen to and be proud to showcase to your listeners.
A mastering engineer is a professional in their field and can alter your audio just the right amount to make slight changes that are more satisfying for the listening ears. If they do, however, have to make larger adjustments to the audio they should always consult with you first to get approval for anything that might drastically change the sound. You’re the one that gets to call the shots.
Having a mastering engineer perform the final edits of your album could potentially be the best thing you do for your album. If you want your audio to sound as good as your favorite songs played on the radio, at clubs, on your handheld device, and more, a mastering engineer will equalize, compress, balance, and resolve all audio inequalities to provide you with quality audio sound ready for your audiences listening pleasure.