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Thread: Should you master a song if you only plan to release it as a single?

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    Should you master a song if you only plan to release it as a single?

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    Or can you just use the mastering bus in the mix?

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    What's the "mastering bus"...?

    Are you asking can you apply some mastering yourself after you mix?

    Mastering is the final process after you mix. Who does it is kinda up to you...but generally you don't want to applying "mastering" touches while still mixing.
    Finish the mix, and then use mastering processes to polish that.
    If you're applying mastering process while still mixing...it gets kinda lost as to what's what.

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    If you want to....you can just use the master stereo output of your mix as a final product for release. If you're happy with it and feel that it can't be improved that's fine. If you do release it........just keep in mind that CD's and mp3's and itunes and etc.....etc....may each have different requirements for volume and format and other things. It's sometimes easier to have a separate master for each destination and format.

    If...one day...you want to make this song a part of a larger "album" / collection......you may find that it will need some mastering to have a consistent volume and "sound" fit well with the other tunes.

    EDIT: I see that you posted the song in the mp3 section of the forum. Good idea.
    Just A Song Writer..........

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    You need to master your single if you want it fit in with pro-quality releases, but that's separate from mixing. Finish the mix and render to an audio file. Then master that file. You'll get a better mix and master that way.

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    I work singles all the time... I wouldn't call it "nonsense" (although technically, I'd call it post-production or sweetening).

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    Even with one song...when you are mixing, it's about bringing all the different tracks/elements together into a stereo mix (or whatever...).
    Mastering is what you then do to the mix after it's created.

    Mastering is not effectively done simultaneously during mixing because to master, you need to hear that final mix before you decide what kind of mastering it needs. One may think it's the all same thing...and just add the mastering stuff at the end of your mixing chain and do it all at once...but it doesn't workout well that way...because your ears are trying to focus on both mixing and mastering, and then you end up with the cart before the horse thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    There is nothing to master with one song. That is nonsense.
    Simply wrong, sorry. If you want your mix to stand up against commercial mixes, to be able to run alongside commercial mixes in broadcast media, then mastering IS essential, even for a single song.
    You mistake the need to get a collection of songs to sit next to one another in an album as the sole point of mastering. That's far from the truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whome View Post
    Depends what you call mastering.

    Louder is not better.
    The new LUFS standard wont let you stand out. They will push yours back down to the same level only it wont sound as good as the others.

    Mastering a single song is NONSENSE.
    True mastering, not making things louder, takes a set of songs and puts them together in the best sequence while keeping ALL their levels at compatible loudness.

    That is technically PREmastering, as there is the traditional true mastering for the media whether vinyl LP, tape, radio, whatever.

    Read about LUFS. Your goal of standing out by being louder has been killed. You now need to make it better not louder.

    First off...I think everyone would really appreciate it of you didn't keep repeating the same thing... "Louder is not better" ...in just about every other post you make, and in most threads you comment in.

    I think everyone knows your view on that by now.

    Second...there was NO mention of making anything louder in the post you quoted above. He said that mastering helps your song "stand up against commercial mixes"...and that doesn't only mean that you make it louder.

    Even on a single song...mastering may involve adjusting the dynamics (without necessarily making it louder) and/or it may be about adjusting the tonal balance a bit...or to add a certain sonic flavoring to the finished mix.
    It's not only about loudness.
    Trying to apply those finer bits of polish WHILE you are working on the stereo mixdown...is not going to be as effective or obvious as it will when you have the final mixdown...and THEN you do the mastering process.

    Finally...as you also mentioned...the delivery format(s) of that single song may require a different mastering approach for each one.
    So again, it's NOT about just making it louder...and yes, you can and you would, master even a single song...because mastering is not just what you do to a collection of songs for an album.

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    As it happens, I am always mastering singles. They are usually tracks that are later to become a set for a CD, but I am working on them and want to get a feel for how they will finally sound. And I nearly always do make them louder. That's because when I'm working on a mix I leave scads of headroom. But, as Miro notes, making them louder is only part of the whole process.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gecko zzed View Post
    As it happens, I am always mastering singles. They are usually tracks that are later to become a set for a CD, but I am working on them and want to get a feel for how they will finally sound. And I nearly always do make them louder. That's because when I'm working on a mix I leave scads of headroom. But, as Miro notes, making them louder is only part of the whole process.
    But....louder is not better!

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