The Real World Mastering Test

Multiple Format Master TestBeing located in Nashville, we know quite a few audio engineers and producers. While there are several great engineering schools close to the city, one of the largest ones that audio professionals come out of is the Recording Industry program at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

MTSU students majoring in the Recording Industry are required to produce an original recording in order to graduate. And, traditionally, the way that recording is evaluated is actually a pretty cool trick for producers everywhere.

The professor grading a student’s recording takes the CD to Best Buy and plays it through multiple stereos. It’s demoed on bookshelf stereos, home entertainment systems and everything else available. And what is the professor looking for? Consistency.

A well mixed and mastered song ought to sound good in multiple different formats. One of the best ways to evaluate this quality is to, as MTSU knows, try it out in different formats.

Even with the best monitors and controllers giving out a flat response, demoing your mix in different formats can provide extra insights into how your music will sound in a different context. You may notice that the snare is too dominant on smaller speakers, or that the vocals are too bass-heavy in a car stereo. This feedback can be invaluable for putting final tweaks on your mix and master.

If your master can stand up to the real world “Best Buy” test, then you know you’ve hit the sweet spot.