Brian Schwab

Mixing and Mastering

Brian Schwab owns and operates a mixing and mastering studio located on the north side of Chicago. The sophisticated environment is a warm and creative workspace equipped with the highest quality outboard equipment and the latest computer technology for music production.

Both the mixing and the mastering process begin with defining the goal of the final project. This includes discussing the character and vibe the artist is setting, discussing the intended audience, and outlining the final output for the project (CD, vinyl, radio, internet, iTunes). Bringing in outside references is encouraged and helps to focus the intention of the record where words can sometimes fail.

Although the tools for mastering may seem specialized, they are no different than the everyday gear used in mixing. Intelligent equalization, compression and limiting are commonly used techniques. Most of the adjustments made are very refined and subtle. The questions in each step of processing are:

  • Does the music better convey the intention of the recording?
  • Will the average listener have a better understanding of the material through additional mastering treatment
  • Is the objective of the producer, mix engineer and artist better delivered?

Utilizing a mastering console allows the auditioning of each piece of analog signal processing along the chain. Assessments can be made between every part of the signal path as well as comparing the original material to the processed version.

While mixing concentrates on balancing instruments, voices, and effects to create one cohesive track, mastering focuses on the balance of the complete album. The mastering process strives to achieve consistency in tone, punch, clarity and volume from track to track.

The overall volume depends on the final format of the released material. One cannot argue that todays CD releases are quantifiably louder than those of CD releases in the past. Depending on record label needs and producer preferences, a current record competing in the present commercial marketplace may need an increase in overall volume.

Sequencing, or track order, and fade-ins and fade-outs are also part of mastering. Final fade-outs should be determined after all processing has been applied to the track.

Once the project is mastered and sequenced, it is ready for delivery. The final format of delivery depends on the target output.

CD Duplication / Replication

  • Master CD (error checked)
    • Includes all CD Text data
  • Reference CD-R (error checked)
    • Includes all CD Text data
  • DDP Image Disc
    • This is the preferred method of delivery for a CD duplication/replication facility
    • Includes all CD Text data
  • PQ Sheet
    • PDF of all CD Text, ISRC data, UPC/EAN

Digital Delivery / Internet

  • 44.1kHz 16bit WAV Files
  • Hi-Res 24bit WAV Files (in the native sampling rate)

Upon request, high-quality MP3 files (320kbps stereo) and Mastered for iTunes files can be provided. For Mastered for iTunes the final distributor will need to be a certified iTunes content provider.


  • Data Disc of Side A sequence and Side B sequence (24bit WAV files).
  • Reference CD-R (error checked)
    • Includes all CD Text date