My experience in discovering the need for mastering was very recent. I had created my first respectable mix, and thus thought I was finished, but I could not figure out why it was so quiet compared to commercial CD's, even though the meters would read the same value. I posed the question of my perplexingly quiet mix in another forum, and the responses led to my discovery of the mastering process. I then had it mastered by a studio, and indeed the levels were rendered adequate. However, I am still puzzled by the apparent necessity of this intermediary step. My question is, why does mastering (or rather mixing?) itself exist? From the technical/hardware point of view, why has someone or some company not developed a system that allows one to lay tracks at mastered levels, so that one goes from tracking to mastering rather than tracking to a mix that then needs to be mastered? Perhaps there is some obvious reason and benefit for the two steps rather than one, and I am curious.