What is it and why do I need it?
Analog mastering, a form of audio post-production, is the process whereby the final stereo mix is optimized to translate accurately on all playback systems. This process includes corrective equalization, dynamic control and sonic enhancement.
Analog mastering is the above process using only outboard gear – that is, anything that is not software based. Unlike mastering with software in a digital realm, the analog process utilizes tube and solid state hardware that both optimizes a stereo mix and produces a definitive sound, enhancing the clarity, depth, width and even warmth of a stereo mix.
Why master in analog, isn’t digital better?
The advancements in digital audio over the past two decades has made analog recording and mixing virtually obsolete. Computing power and software development have replaced the 2″ tape machine and cumbersome mixing board. Price, flexibility and speed are just a few of the advantages to recording in digital – there is little argument, digital is better in many regards.
Nonetheless, the movement away from analog has one very distinct disadvantage. Digital mixes by comparison are thin, transparent, and sonically harsh. There is no software plug-in, digital converter, nor computer algorithm that can substitute or mimic the definitive quality of analog circuitry. As a result, recording artists and producers often combine the digital recording and analog post-production processes to utilize the best that both can offer.
Professional analog mastering is used by some of the best producers, engineers, and artists in the world, and if done properly can bridge the gap between an amateur and professional recording.