Digital Audio Mastering

Written by Will Baum
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Digital audio mastering was once the purview of a small, select, and very expensive group of engineers. That is no longer the case. Computers have opened up the field, allowing a much wider group of experts to manipulate sound with heretofore unimaginable flexibility and ease.

The digital audio mastering program of choice is called Pro Tools. Pro Tools has become the industry standard for everyone from home enthusiasts to top recording studios. What used to require box after box of expensive high-tech equipment--effects, equalizers, compressors, etc.--is now all contained on a hard drive. Pro Tools offers a sometimes-overwhelming number of options for playing with sound.

Digital Audio Mastering Adds Warmth, Presence, Balance

The digital audio mastering capabilities of Pro Tools are as impressive as the rest of the program. Tweaking a final mix with tape and a soundboard used to be a grueling process. Now the fine-tuning is relatively quick, easy, and painless (which partially explains why record companies keep releasing new, remastered versions of classic records).

A talented Pro Tools engineer can eliminate unwanted noises, edit, and add richness to any recording. The before-and-after difference can be stunning. Hisses disappear. Voices become more present. An entire project can be transformed. As with any high-tech process, having an expert behind the controls is essential. The Internet is a great resource for information about companies that offer high-quality digital audio mastering.

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