I had a music lover ask about us rolling him a copy of a 1/2" master tape. Seems simple yes? But really.... No, it's not that simple. I'll explain more in an upcoming issue at DSD-Guide but for now, here's a simple story of mastering.
Have you ever played back your downloads in shuffle? Heard a streaming program that varies song to song? What is probably happening is that you're reaching for the volume knob on every song to make the perfect adjustment. Most subtle is the EQ or reverb... probably varies song to song as well.
Back in the "old days" when we made albums, we "mastered" an album to have continuity of flow... relative volume levels so no adjustment had to be made by reaching to the knob. These days, with people using shuffle mode between albums and songs taking on more importance, "flow" from mastering seems to have been a lost artform.
Radio handled these variances with 1000/1 compression enforced by the FCC. All dynamics were lost and everything over compressed to output the approximate same volume. All streaming services employ their own types of volume leveling which is partly why all services sound differently.
Very few mix engineers mix with thoughts to match the final out put volume. We all know that stage will be handled in 'mastering'.
To make a copy of a 1/2" master tape requires two 1/2" tape machines. Few studios (except mastering houses and large studios who still use tape) have two reel to reel 1/2" machines. Our studio has a 2", 1/2" and not working 1/4" tape machine that's not worth repairing. We don't have the capability to master the mixed 1/2" tape so that the experience is worth the $700 or more you'd end up paying for those tapes.
Recording through to getting a consumer ready product is not easy to understand. There are no simple solutions, only expensive ones. I know... I've mortgaged my house several times because of it. :)