Digital versus Analog Mastering

There have always been debates on which mastering produces the best quality sound. Digital mastering and analog mastering has been compared and debated upon since the rise of digital technology. When choosing an online mastering service as an option, it is very important to understand the difference of the two.

Digital mastering is a post-production process that makes use of a computer software to enhance the sound quality of the mix. On the other hand, analog mastering is a post-production process which uses analog equipment to blend, equalize and compress the recorded audio to produce a high-quality sound.

Here are a few of the differences of the two which can help you decide which one will work for you when you opt for an online mastering service.

  1. Analog Produces a Warm Sound

When you opt for an analog mastering, the result often produces a warm sound which makes the tracks seem to blend. The analog process often creates a new sound from the mix that is not present on the original track. The process involves making the sound thicken and blend with the other instruments that make up the song. This causes the upper harmonic of the recording to be accentuated. It is a fantastic method to be applied to mixes which have space and all the instruments are well separated in the mix.

Analog masters are often used to produce well-blended tracks. The intention of analog is to soften the sound of each instrument that the song requires.

  1. Digital Creates Sharpness

Digital mastering, on the other hand, can be used on the audio recording where the mix of each track is not readily identifiable. Using analog on this type of mix only causes the audio to sound muddy and too much blending of the tracks suppresses the clarity of each instrument that should be present. Digital mastering has this advantage over analog. It can create separation and contrast without compromising the quality of the sound of the recording. It should be noted also that digital mastering should be done with care. A small adjustment in a certain area can affect the entire recording.

Digital mastering is used when the song requires clarity for each instrument. It is the best option to create sharp sounds that may be required by the song. (read more here:

With technology trying to recreate everything, analog plugins have already been created to produce some of the sound character of analog mastering. Some online mastering studios make use of these plugins instead of using big and expensive equipment to create analog masters. But capturing the almost infinite minute interactions an analogue circuit has is quite impossible right now. Eventually these plugins will improve and soon match analog equipment but that would still be far ahead.

To this day, analog and digital have their own place and better would be dependent on each listener’s opinion and choice. Digital is equally valuable as analog and vice versa. Analog will always have that hands-on approach that most music engineers prefer. But it cannot be denied that digital will always be a step ahead when it comes to precision.