0. What is Mastering?
Mastering is both art and science. It is considered the last creative step in the production of a commercial sound recording. Mastering is performed by engineers who understand the strengths and limitations of the medium where the recording will end up on (Vinyl,CD, MFIT etc) and know how to optimize the recording in order to create a functioning, objectively good sounding and competitive result.
Mastering enginneers achieve this by modifying the frequency spectrum, altering the dynamics and/or stereo field.
Furthermore mastering engineers account for the possible differences between songs on an Album in order to make the listening experience more coherent. One could also compare the mastering process to that of spell checking. Sometimes the author has more focus on language than technicalities and it is notoriously difficult to spell check your own work. Given that mastering studios have second to non monitoring/acoustics, the mastering process is intended for finding and correcting these last inconsistencies.
1. How should tracks be delivered for Mastering?
All songs should preferably be delivered as .wav or .aiff extensions, in 24 bit and at the same sample rate as was used during mixing. We support sample rates between 44.1kHz and 192kHz.
All tracks delivered should also not exceed 0dbfs. This is usually indicated by a red lights above your sequencer’s level meters. Also, compression and limiting should not be used over the master output. You can however send your reference track with compression and limiting to give us an idea of where you are going with the effects.
You can either bring your tracks with you when you attend the session, post them by mail (minimum 5 days in advance) or send a download link to firstname.lastname@example.org
preferably all files at once using a service with minimum ad content like Dropbox.
2. Where should my mixes peak before I send them to mastering:
Any level between -8dBFS and -2dBFS is fine.
3. Do you accept analog formats ?
We do accept analog formats like 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch tape but make sure to get in touch beforehand so that we can set things up.
4. I have a reference track I would like you to listen to. Can I include it with the other tracks?
Our rule is that reference tracks are fine as long as they have been used as reference during the mixing and/or production process. Mastering is about refining and gently shaping the sound into the right direction never about radical stylistic changes. Also please point out in detail what it is you like about your reference track. Is it the tonal balance? Or perhaps just the loudness?
Please don’t send the music as a file but just include the title, artist and version in an email. We will buy the track ourselves to ensure maximum quality.
5. Which mastering engineer will be working on my master?
Unless otherwise agreed Joel Krozer will be working on your masters start to finish.
6. Will my song end up being as loud as song “x” after mastering?
Loudness is a balancing act and high levels are always a compromise with dynamics and distortion.
Before deciding whether you want your track to be loud it is worth go through a few notable pitfalls of hyper-compressed music:
1. There’s no correlation between sales and how loud your record is.
2.Hyper-compressed material will actually sound weaker over the radio as the broadcast compressors will over process the signal.
3. Djs in clubs adjust the gain manually and more dynamic tracks are known for going off better than very compressed ones on big PA speakers.
4. Loud tracks seem impressive at first but quickly become fatiguing. Listening to an entire album of hyper-compressed music is often found to be unpleasant.
Now if you still want your track to be the loudest around, we will help you grant that wish. Do keep in mind though that each mix has a so called loudness potential. Once the loudness potential has been reached, the mix will need to be modified in order for the music to appear even louder.
7. I want to get various versions of one track such as instrumental and accapella versions. Are those included in the price when I order a mix?
Yes, three versions of your song are included in the price when your hire is to mix it. This doesn’t apply for mastering only jobs or stem mastering jobs, but as long as you tell us in advance we will make sure to make it fit within your budget.
8. What are ISRC codes and why do I need them?
ISRC are identification codes for your music. They will become useful to your national royalty association for keeping track of where and how often your music has been played.
Once you have acquired your code you can easily modify it yourself for future releases. The code consists of 12 characters, “OO-XXX-YY-NNN-TT” where “OO” stands for the country of origin of the submitter , “XXX” the personalized code you received, “YY” the year of registration, “NNN” the release number and “TT” the track number.
ISRC codes should preferably be supplied prior to the mastering session.
9. How long until I receive my final master?
If you attend the session, you’ll receive your master disk or files immediately after your session.
The typical duration for Online Mastering will be between 3 and 10 days depending on volume. In case that our mastering studio is more tightly booked than usual you will be notified in advance.
10. What format will my final master be in?
The final master will be delivered either as a Master CD (with optional reference disk) a DDP file or individual .wav files. We also specialize in vinyl masters i.e. masters that can be cut directly to vinyl. These will also be sent as .wav files, either as individual or per side consolidates, depending on the manufactureres preference.
11. What is a DDP file?
Think of the DDP file as the master disk on your computer. It contains all of your tracks in the correct order including all crossfades, ISRC codes, PQ codes etc
12. What if I would like a revision?
For mixes a maximum of 1 hour of revisions are included in the price.
For online mastering a minor revision are free e.g. “track 4 could be 1 db quieter” or “the fades between track 8 and 7 are too short” or “a bit less high end on track 2” Bigger changes are charged by the hour.
For attended sessions all revisions are charged by the hour.
13. How can we get you paid?
Please provide us with your invoice details including name, company name, address, email and phone number and we will send you an invoice at the end of the process. We accept Paypal as wells as bank transfer.
14. There is a mistake on our master. How do we solve this?
Glitches are rear but no machine in the world is perfect and we are also only humans after all. It is therefore very important that you thoroughly listen to all your masters before sending them off to the pressing plant/itunes/etc. We assume no responsibility for masters that were sent off to manufacturing without your final approval and your not compensated for any damages caused by this.
We are however very solution oriented people who will do everything in our power (obviously free of charge and immediately) to correct any errors or glitches that could have appeared during mastering. Luckily this rarely ever happens.