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Chapter 19. Mastering

Chapter 19. Mastering

In the old days, mastering referred to the arcane and difficult process of making a master disc from analog tapes. This master disc was sent to a duplication plant, where it was the template for pressing vinyl records. A mastering engineer was the person who prepared tracks to get consistent level and sound and also made sure that the needle wouldn't skip out of the groove on the finished product. It was a one-shot, real-time process, and if the cut master didn't sound right or a fade was too early, another master had to be made.

The digital era changed this. Duplication houses have been taking burned CDs for years now, so in theory, anyone with a CD burner can make a CD master. Mastering engineers tend to be rather smart people, and they've transformed themselves quite effectively from vinyl jockeys to digital gurus. Because anyone can now make a master CD, professional mastering engineers make their money by making your CD sound as good as possible.


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