4. Compiling

The first task in mastering is evaluating the material. If you're mastering your own productions, try to get opinions from others. When you've been working on a mix for a long time, it is likely that you have developed a kind of „organisational blindness“. To avoid this, take a few days off between mixing and mastering and return to the material with fresh ears. In a mastering sense, evaluating the material means focusing on technical aspects rather than the creative side. Look for pops, hums, undesired distortion, off-center „phantom mids“ and other problems. What cannot be repaired, usually goes straight to the bin.

To-do list

If you're compiling an album, the order of tracks is a key decision to make. Does the arc of suspense work? How do the key and tempo of each song feel in relation to the preceding one? How can levels be brought in alignment? At this stage, it is not unusual to end up with a rather long to do list. Compilations of songs by various artists or collections of mixes with very different instrumentations present additional difficulties.

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