What is mastering?
Why do I need mastering? / What can I expect from you?
– We make the individual mixes work as an album. The sound will be coherent between songs, the pause timing will create a natural flow, the levels will feel just right, the listener will never feel the need to reach for any controls. A good album will have you listen to the music, not the sound recording thereof. You should never have to think about the fact that there’s sound coming out of the speakers.
– We make sure the release works perfectly on the medium it is to be delivered on. That means that we know everything there is to know about the content delivery mechanism. We know what is possible and what can go wrong. When you receive your master, whatever the format may be, you can be sure that the replicated product will work exactly as you expect it to.
How are you able to do those things?
At 24-96 Mastering, we work in a controlled environment specifically designed for the purpose: a highly conditioned acoustic space with the most linear speakers. This very neutral listening environment takes out as many variables as possible and lets us make informed judgments on the recording itself without having to worry about characteristics the acoustic space or playback equipment is introducing.
We use only the absolute best equipment to process sound. Actually, we test pretty much all of the high end gear out there, then buy what we think is the best equipment you can get and then, a lot of the time, we modify it because we find there’s still room for improvement. You’ll be amazed at the level of detail that we consider, both in the design of our work environment and when working on your recording. We care about the smallest details because we know that they in turn influence the big picture.
What is the eMastering process? How does this work?
2. After we have received your enquiry, we will soon get back to you to confirm whether we can work to your deadline, and will instruct you on how to send your mixes and make the payment. If you want to, you can of course also send us some additional information, or talk to the mastering engineer before the session.
3. After the mastering session, you will receive the master in your preferred format.
Do you offer any guarantees?
Do your standard prices include revisions, should I want any changes in the master?
What formats, sample rates and bit depths should the tracks be in?
Please make sure that your mixes are clearly named. We suggest naming each track in the following way:
When all the mixes are checked and prepared, please pack them all into a single ZIP file before uploading.
For attended sessions, you can supply files or audio streams on any type of CD, DVD, USB sticks, Firewire & USB hard drives, laptop computer, media card or AIT tape.
If you bring a tape, DAT, DA88 tape, HD24, cassette tape, minidisc, vinyl, VHS, Protools or Sadie project, or any other format not mentioned here, please let us know well beforehand so we can have the right playback device here and ready when you arrive.
What information should I include with the mixes?
– If you want ISRCs or UPC/EAN on your CD master, please include these also. (If you don’t know what these are, then you probably don’t need to worry about this.)
– If you have any thoughts or specific expectations regarding the overall volume of your album, we would love to know! The louder a disc is, the higher the distortion, so if you don’t need your disc to be as loud as your reference (if you sent us one), or as other popular albums of that genre, we’d like to know about it.
– If you require specific edits, crossfades, spacing or fadeouts for your album, please either describe them (and include times), or even better, include an edit mockup/template as mp3.
– If you want to, you can of course also send us a sound reference track (or multiple, if you prefer), to communicate specific sound ideals. If you do, please mark them clearly as references and make sure they’re good quality audio.
We encourage you to send us any other information you also want to provide. Just write it up with the rest. And of course, if you’d rather talk about details on the phone, feel free to call anytime.
You can communicate all this any way (e-mail, phone, fax, chat), but it’s probably most convenient and reliable to put all info in a .txt or .doc file and upload it with the mixes.
What peak level should the files be? Should there be any loudness processing on them?
Please do not apply loudness processing on the mixes you send us. There should usually be no limiter, maximizer, inflator, exciter, stereo widener, or such on the master output for the sake of loudness. Individual channel compression and deliberate mix bus compression is of course very much part of the mix, so don’t take that off. But pure loudness processing (as often used by mixers for client ref discs) on the summing bus can make our work very hard because it limits our options.
If you like the way your processing sounds on the mix bus, but aren’t entirely sure about it, we suggest you send/bring mixdowns with processing along too. Together, we’ll decide, if we want to work from them and even if not, they can be a useful indicator of your sound preferences. But please always also have a version without loudness processing with you.
How do I send you the mixes?
If you need any assistance, please let us know.
What master format do I need? What is best?
– a DDP master image, delivered online: You will receive a link to a DDP image file via email. You can then download that image file, and use our free DDP application (also in the email) to play, burn a CD, or convert the tracks to wav files. Most pressing plants also accept DDP images as an input master format, so you can either send them the zipped DDP image, or just forward our link via email. The benefits of a DDP master image are low cost, fast transfer (there is no time lost in shipping) and high data safety (a DDP image can be guaranteed to be error free because of built in checksums).
– master WAV files, delivered online: You will receive a link to a zip file containing individual WAV audio files via email. You can then download that zip file, unpack it, and play or use the WAV files as you please. Most computers have the ability to play WAV files or burn them to Audio CD without any need for conversion. Choose wav files if you don’t have or need a specific track order, don’t need specific pauses, want to be able to switch the songs around and don’t plan on having a CD professionally replicated.
– a master on CDR, delivered by mail: You will receive an error tested master CDR and reference copy by snail mail, or courier if you prefer. You can use the reference copy to evaluate the master, and pass the master CDR on to the presing plant. Choose this if you are going to have a CD replicated, but your replicator / pressing plant does not accept DDP image files. This method takes longer because of shipping, and is more expensive to make because it requires physical manufacturing and error-testing.
Can you do separation / stem mastering?
For the preparation of the stems, please make sure that all stems summed at unity gain will result precisely in your stereo mix. Please record any effects onto the stems that the sending signal is on. That is, the vocal echo should be on the vocals stem, the snare reverb should be on the drums track. If you have any more questions about mastering with stems / separation mastering, please do not hesitate to contact us.