Mastering demands a good ear, but how do you train your ear for mastering? Below we explore a quick top ten of tips and tricks to help fast track you to mastering mastering.
Broaden Your Musical Palette: Listen to diverse genres and time periods. Recognise the unique nuances in sound, production, and mixing techniques across different musical landscapes.
Invest in Ear Training: Use ear training exercises or software to sharpen your ability to pinpoint frequencies and distinguish between different types of compression and saturation.
Isolate Tracks: Get into the habit of isolating individual tracks. Identify various elements and decipher their roles in the mix, as well as their positioning within the sound space.
Leverage Reference Tracks: Frequently compare your mixes to reference tracks. This strategy is critical to fighting ear fatigue and serves as a guide when you feel lost in your mix.
Embrace Blind Listening: Use blind listening tests, without relying on waveform or other visual cues. This enhances your capability to judge the quality of a mix solely based on sonic characteristics. Never let your eyes influence your mixing decisions before your ears.
Develop Problem-Solving Skills: Practice identifying and rectifying mix problems such as muddy frequencies, poor stereo imaging, or excessive loudness. Try your hand at re-EQing poorly mastered tracks to better understand how to rectify such issues.
Utilise Referencing: Make referencing against professional releases part of your process. This will help you understand where your mixes might fall short in terms of clarity, balance, or impact. Several plugins are available for A/B comparisons.
Learn from Experts: Attend workshops, seminars, and masterclasses to learn from seasoned engineers and acquire fresh insights and techniques. At ESM, we offer paid classes to extend your knowledge base.
Collaborate: Work with musicians, producers, and engineers. Their varying approaches to mixing and mastering will provide invaluable perspective and experience.
Mix at Lower Volumes: It helps in making better judgements about balance and EQ. Loud volumes can deceive your ears due to the Fletcher-Munson curve, which explains how our perception of frequency balance changes with volume.