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Unit 5: Audio Mastering and Manufacture

‘This is a Porky’s prime cut’ – these words were once carved into the run-off area of vinyl LPs as a sign from the mastering engineer George Peckham of his stamp of quality. In the age of the internet and bedroom studios, the mastering and manufacturing process is often overlooked or left to chance.

This unit develops a working knowledge of the role and work of a mastering engineer and the mastering studio. It is supported through study of the listening skills essential to mastering, how faults and problems are identified and how audio quality is ensured. Learners will explore the creative and corrective possibilities in mastering as the final stage of the recording process.

They will learn to give technical consideration to the needs of different consumer formats and will investigate and use the various techniques needed for the process. They will crucially produce their own premastered CDs (PMCDs) ready for mass production.

Learners will learn the coding process that identifies tracks and times on a CD, other embedded data and the format standards for presentation to manufacturers. They will study the manufacturing process and prepare masters and media suitable for manufacturing and distribution. Learners will understand the importance of quality sound and the conflicting needs of the client, the manufacturer and the consumer.