Pre-Production involves getting your tracks ready to record. This usually involves creating a custom template, laying out tempo maps, writing and recording specific parts and making sure the elements of the writing itself is set to be recorded.
Engineering begins with finding the right tones: Making sure your instruments are sounding the best they can by replacing heads, tuning drums, ensuring guitars are properly intonated, getting your vocalist some hot tea, picking the best mic for the situation, and maintaining a clean input signal. Then it's the engineers job to guide the artist through tracking their parts and getting the best takes. Engineering covers everything involved in getting the best sounds into your project so they are ready to be mixed.
• Balance - the volume level relationship between musical elements
• Panorama - placing a musical element in the sound field
• Frequency Range - having all frequencies properly represented
• Dimension - adding ambience to a musical element
• Dynamics - controlling the volume envelopes of a track or instrument
• Interest - making the mix special
Mastering, or finalizing, is the last stage of the process of making audio. It is the final high resolution version of the production, the one from which you will spin off red book copies for cd and mp3 files for the internet. The mastering stage covers loudness, and overall polish.