Understanding Mastering Review

Mastering is as much about knowing the tools and techniques as it is about understanding how your track should sound and what needs to be done to iron out the wrinkles. This new tutorial from Sonic Academy sees engineer Conor Dalton – of Glowcast Mastering – discussing both the technical side of compression and EQ, and also why each decision is made.

Manufacturer: Sonic Academy
Price: Quarterly Access to whole site £34.99 – One Year Access – £99.99
Contact: info@sonicacademy.com
Web: www.sonicacademy.com

The tutorial can be streamed from the Sonic Academy website and contains eight chapters totalling just over two hours. The videos are quick to load but they’re not especially crisp, so you may miss out on some of the finer details. That said, the majority of the tutorial is based more around Dalton talking than in-depth tweaking of plug-ins, so this isn’t really a problem.


Although the focus is squarely on tech house, using Cubase and plug-ins by UAD, PSP and Brainworx, the overall techniques and concepts are easily transferable to any genre of music or software. Dalton begins with an introduction to mastering, looking at why it’s necessary, what it involves and how it differs from the mixing stage before moving on to some before-and-after examples. It’s here that we come across our first problem, as the quality of the audio stream makes it difficult to discern the subtle differences. Although Dalton readily admits this and focuses more on discussing the techniques than listening to examples, it’s a shame that hi-res audio files aren’t included. And to make matters worse, there seems to be an issue with the screen-capture software, which results in frequent audio clicks whenever tracks are playing (and Dalton has a habit of A/B’ing too quickly between examples).

However, with these negative aspects out the way, this is actually one of the best tutorials on mastering we’ve ever seen! Dalton goes on to explain EQ, dynamic range and different compression techniques including parallel, glue and multiband compression in such a way that makes them incredibly easy to understand.

Technical faults aside, we learned a lot from this tutorial and found it refreshing to hear mastering techniques from someone working within the club music scene.



Superb explanations of different types of compression and great club music mastering tips, only let down by intermittent audio issues.