Mastering: Things are in the last stage of completion, near the end of production, yet attention is focused on precision and minute detail. Mixing is presumably complete but minor adjustments are still needed. Studio One® Professional provides complete integration of the mixing and mastering environments, with flexible metering and analysis so you can understand your audio, precision EQ so you can make very small adjustments, and many more high-powered tools for this critical phase.
Click here to see a video overview of mastering in Studio One 2.
This video is older but it gives you a good handle on Studio One's mastering features.
Here's another video overview of mastering in Studio One, this one featuring Craig Anderton live at our NAMM booth.
This video discusses assembling a Project in Studio One Professional, including automatic updating of Songs, adding processing for mastering, diagnostic tools, and more.
From our series about Editing the Sermon comes this video on using the Project page.
Open Songs directly from the Project to touchup a mix.
It is not unusual to discover during the mastering process that adjustments need to be made to one or more mixes. With other DAWs, that usually means a long, multistep process that includes leaving the mastering environment, returning to the mix, making the adjustments, making a new file for mastering, returning to the mastering environment, importing the new file, and hoping the mix adjustments work so you don't have to go through that again.
Just writing all of that is more work than we think you should have to do, so Studio One Professional's Project page includes a button for each track that opens the Song document in seconds, without having to close the Project. Once the necessary adjustments are made, one command updates the Project with the new mix.
This is a whole new workflow, in which mix adjustments are no big thing, and going back and forth between mastering and mixing is smooth, easy, and natural.
One-click updating of mixes in the Project to ensure you always work with the latest mix version.
With lots of mix versions running around, it can be very easy to become uncertain whether you are mastering with the latest version of each mix. But isn't that just the kind of thing computers are supposed to be good at? Of course it is, so Studio One lets you know as soon as you open a Project whether the mixes of any of its tracks have changed, and it offers you the option to update all of them with a single click. So much for uncertainty.
Click here to see a video in which Byron "steadyb" Gaither explains some of the useful mastering features found in the Studio One Project page, including automatic updating of Songs within Projects, Red Book CD burning, and much more.
The processing chain is the heart of the mastering engineer's toolkit. It matters. The Project page delivers the goods so you can master in style.
With Device Rack inserts on every track, as well as on the Project master, processing can go anywhere it's needed. And that processing can be Native Effects plug-ins, VST and AU mastering plug-ins, or even external processors seamlessly incorporated by the Pipeline plug-in.
The Project page lets you get as serious as you need to be about processing when you master.
The Project page is flexible about where you process the signal. Plug-ins can be applied to an individual track or to the master, affecting all tracks. What's more, there are two insert sections on the master: a prefader section for your master processing and a postfader section for monitoring through simulated playback environments. When you are ready to export your Project, one click deactivates this mock "final processing" chain of postfader insert effects to keep it out of the final product.
Not only does Studio One give you plenty of places to insert processing, it gives you lots of options for what to put there. The Multiband Dynamics plug-in is sure to see plenty of use when mastering your projects, as is the brickwall Limiter plug-in.
Click here for a video on applying dynamics processing during mastering in Studio One.
But don't forget about Studio One's Pro EQ, which can be adjusted in steps as small as 0.01 dB of level and 1 Hz of frequency. Resolution that fine is the exception, not the rule, in EQs—but mastering is a critical application that often calls for high precision.
Mastering frequently involves processing to deal with the varying characteristics of the media in which you are delivering. Maybe your MP3 master processing chain has a little high-end boost to counter the loss of brightness that can happen in encoding. Your Internet and radio signal chain has heavier compression than the CD chain because the more high-quality dynamics processing you apply, the less nasty compression needs to be applied at the radio station. (Broadcast and Internet radio both apply brutal squash.)
Life can still be easy, though, if you create an optimum signal chain for each medium and store those chains as FX Chains so they are instantly accessible for any Project. You can even save versions of your project with each signal chain.
Studio One is more than friendly to your other mastering gear, too. Your exotic VST and AU mastering plug-ins fit seamlessly into Studio One, and your fabulous boutique outboard processing is applied to a track or the master signal path just as easily with the Pipeline plug-in.
Click here to see a video on applying effects for mastering.
Click here to see a video on using the Limiter and Level Meter plug-ins to eliminate clipping during mastering.
Add metadata to the Project and to each track.
Embedding metadata has become an essential step in music production. Metadata tells people about each song you produce: the artist, album, genre, year, ISRC code, and much more. This information is used by online players, such as SoundCloud™ and Spotify, as well as by iTunes and other players on the listener's device.
You want everyone to know about your music, so Studio One gives you every opportunity to enter metadata, and the Project page makes use of it all. Start page metadata and Song metadata are supplemented with Project and track metadata. When you export your Project, the metadata is handled logically, using Project metadata where track metadata is not available, for instance.
Analyze your mastering work with comprehensive metering.
Mastering is typically a process in which very fine detail is critical. Good signal analysis and metering are crucial helpers in ensuring that your ears aren't missing anything. The Project page makes level, spectrum, and phase metering a prominent part of its display, giving you multiple perspectives on your music.
If you need even closer visual monitoring, all of those functions are available in plug-ins that can be inserted on individual tracks, as well.
Checkerboard layout for tracks.
In mastering, it is important to have a clear visual representation of how the tracks lay out in time and what both sides of a crossfade look like. The traditional method for displaying tracks in a mastering environment is called "checkerboarding," which means only that tracks alternate between two track lanes, rather than being displayed all in one lane.
The Project page checkerboards tracks and manages checkerboarding automatically. If you make a cut in a track, or add a new track in the middle of the Project, all of the necessary adjustments to the checkerboard layout are handled automatically.
Let's get small.
Equalization in mastering is typically a delicate undertaking. There should be no large EQ needs by the time you get to mastering, so mastering EQs are often designed to provide very small increments for each band's gain control. Any EQ that can't provide steps at least as small as quarter of a decibel is limited in its mastering uses. That’s why Studio One’s Pro EQ plug-in can be adjusted in steps down to 1/100th of a decibel.
Click here for a video about using EQ during mastering in Studio One.