In the early days of the recording industry
, live performances were cut direct to a wax or acetate disk in the recording studio. After the introduction of magnetic recording tape in the late 1940's, the music had to be transferred from tape to a lacquer master and the art of mastering (then sometimes simply called "transfer") was born.Recording engineers who showed promise
would work for a time in mastering as part of their training. The record companies, having been burned a time or two by putting out discs that caused problems on consumer reproduction systems, had hard and fast rules governing the amount of certain frequencies that were permitted in the transfer and this, it was considered, was essential knowledge for the recording engineer.As time went by it was noticed by artists and producers
that certain records sounded better than others on the radio and they began to realize that mastering could provide both a commercial edge, and also be an important part of the creative process. Engineers and producers, in defiance of the restraints placed upon them by the record companies, began seeking to push the envelope in various ways, and as a result, the currency of the mastering engineer began to rise.With the arrival of the CD
, a medium that lacks the same constraints as vinyl with regard to how much of certain frequencies can be applied, mastering engineers came into their own with a broader canvas on which they could paint. With the high quality analog and digital compressors and EQs available today, mastering engineers are able to subtly contour dynamics and re-shape the frequency spectrum to produce remarkable results.The recent introduction of the DVD formats, plus the SACD
, and the proliferation of high resolution stereo and surround comsumer reproduction equipment, mean even more intriguing possibilities for the art of mastering.Although the traditional recording studio industry has undergone a rapid evolution
in recent years due to the introduction of affordable digital multi-track recording equipment, professional mastering has flourished and become even more important as artists, producers, and engineers strive to bring their home/project-studio based recordings up to the level that the listening public is accustomed to.