Mastering is a delicate subject best left to professionals with high end equipment but if you are going to attempt mastering your own music please bare in mind these common mistakes most producers make.
A false impression has been cast across the music industry that louder equals better. This is not the case. Most producers are releasing over compressed music that is lacking dynamic range and punch. It’s frustrating when you hear an amazing track that deserves so much credit that is destroyed by an inexperienced mastering engineer or producer over compressing the track.
The way you route your master chain is very important. Many producers will set their chain up inside and outside the box randomly. Ie starting the chain with compression and adding processing post compression. Always think about your chain as if you are working out the box. Your audio routes into the first item of hardware, the signal is processed and outputted to the second item of hardware in the chain. Think about it like this if you are using an eq and adding gain to the bottom end the input to lets say a compressor will increase in volume resulting in more audio hitting the threshold of the compressor. Bare this in mind when using eq post and pre to a compressor.
Many inexperienced producers and mastering engineers are under the impression that mastering is simply adding compression and limiting the dynamics of the track. This is not the case. I have seen quite a few “professional” mastering studios offer a mastering service that includes nothing more than a budget analogue compressor. Mastering has many variables and requires various different pieces of gear not just a compressor. A mastering chain may include eq’s, stereo widening, saturation and various other processing gear.
Many producers have been led to believe through advertising and word of mouth that adding ozone to the master bus is a good way of mastering. This approach is never going to sound great. Ozone has a tenancy to dramatically deteriorate the quality of what come out the other end. I’ve personally tested ozone and the results that come out the end of ozone are far inferior to using stock daw plugins. You will achieve far better results using stock plugins placed in the correct signal chain.
New Approach To Each Track
Many producers will use a template of plugins or hardware. What you need to ask yourself is is this track exactly the same as the track mastered before? No. Every track is different and requires a fresh approach. Half the trouble is that the inexperience of not knowing exactly what type of processing is required at each stage of the master chain, results in poor mastering that is not correctly processing the signal chain for the right reason.