While I work on and write a song, I typically have a basic mastering chain turned on. Let me explain what that means.
One of the last processes done to an audio file before it's put onto a CD or made ready for an album is mastering. This is a process where final audio tweaks and magic are done to the song as a whole, rather than to individual tracks and instruments.
I like to have some basic mastering going on in real time while I work on stuff just to get a better idea of how things might sound as the end product. Plus, it gives everything a little extra oomph, and that always helps get the energy going.
Recently, I was able to finally buy the mastering software that I've been wanting for a really long time. My first 2 albums were "mastered" using the basic mastering chain I use while writing. So essentially, next to no mastering at all. If you compare the volume levels, the bass levels, the crispness levels of my first 2 albums to those done by major releases, you'll definitely hear the difference. (ESPECIALLY "Hourglass" because I knew even less of what I was actually doing back then)
So I thought it would be interesting to give you an idea of the difference between no mastering, my basic mastering, and my new mastering software. (I'm still learning how to use the new software, so it's not sounding perfect yet, but I think it sounds a TON better already.)
This audio file plays a short clip of "The Third Eye" (the song I'm currently working on) three times. First: no mastering, then: my basic mastering, and finally: my new mastering.
I can't wait until I get all these tracks fully mastered!