You’ve Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!
WHAT IS AUDIO MASTERING?
Audio Mastering is the final stage of production that prepares your music or audio for the outside world. Whether your music is intended for a compact disc release, digital distribution or for other media, this is the last chance to ensure that it is free from errors and is balanced to ensure a consistent sound over a wide range of playback systems.
For albums, eps and compilations, it is also the stage at which tracks are correctly balanced to sit together in terms of both volume and frequency content. Track fades and spacing may be applied with the aim to provide a satisfying and cohesive listening experience.
HOW SHOULD I GET MY UNMASTERED FILES TO YOU?
24 bit resolution WAV or AIFF is best but 32 bit is great too. Sampling rates of 44.1khz up to 96khz are preferred. Please avoid using lossy formats such as MP3, Ogg or WMA etc. as they will not give optimal results.
Please ensure that your mix does not exceed 0dB (no clipping) and remove any processing from the master channel. If you are using a bus compressor on the master channel that is intrinsic to the sound you are going for then feel free to leave it on and consider sending both a version with and without the compression.
Please feel free to send files via an ftp link, an internet file hosting service such as Sprend, or alternatively you could use a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. The email address to send links to is firstname.lastname@example.org
Please get in touch if you have any questions about how best to prepare your files.
HOW LONG WILL THE MASTERING TAKE?
This can depend on a number of factors, including the amount of work the job requires, the number of tracks involved and also workload. After we have checked the premasters, we'll let you know how long we expect the work will take. If you have any concerns or a pressing deadline then please make it known and if at all possible you will be accommodated.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO ACHIEVE WITH MASTERING?
Mastering is first and foremost an opportunity for a fresh pair of ears to assess the sonic integrity of your mix in an accurate listening environment with great monitoring.
Pops, clicks and noise that you may not have noticed can be picked up on and addressed with either processing or bringing it to your attention for making adjustments in the mix before resending the file.
Sometimes feedback on improvements can be made before any mastering is done in an effort to achieve superior results.
The frequency balance and dynamics can be shaped to add a professional finish that adds that final gloss and sheen ensuring your music sounds as good as it possibly can. The perceived loudness and density of the music can be increased to give a greater sense of power if that is what is needed or desired.
The bottom line is that mastering can take a mix to the next level. A good mix can make a great master. However, if there are severe issues that should have been addressed at the mixing stage then mastering will not necessarily be able to fix it without introducing compromises. In these cases suggestions to improve the mix may be made rather than attempting to master the music as it is.
WHAT IS STEM MASTERING, AND WHY ARE THERE NO PRICES FOR THIS SERVICE?
It has become more fashionable lately for many mastering studios to offer stem mixing/mastering. In regular stereo mastering, the mix is recorded to a single stereo file. In stem mixing/mastering however, the mix might be split into several files, such as one for kick, bass, leads, atmospheres and FX, or vocals, guitars, drums and keyboards etc. When played back and mixed together, these tracks, or stems, sum together to recreate the final mix.
Whilst Stem mastering affords the mastering engineer more flexibility and options to correct problems and / or selectively enhance elements with less compromises, it also has some very clear disadvantages to regular stereo mastering:
1. It is more expensive as it requires more work, more time downloading and checking files, and more internet bandwidth and archive storage.
2. It takes creative decisions out of the artist/producers hands and can potentially alter the original intention of the music which may or may not be in keeping with the artists vision.
3. Once approved, the client/artist doesn't actually have the corrected / final mix in their possession in their software of choice and with their own tools.
4. If a track has balance issues, the artist doesn't gain as much insight into what the mix required as when given feedback for changing the mix themselves, and resubmitting a revised mix.
So, whilst providing stem mixing/mastering services is entirely possible, it is preferred as a last resort for problem solving than as a default mastering solution. Mix feedback and correction at the client's end is preferred.
If you are interested in stem mastering, it is charged to order and is based on the price of a regular stereo master, plus an additional £10 per stem.
WHAT IF I AM NOT HAPPY WITH THE RESULTS?
Unlimited revisions (within reason) are offered until you are completely satisfied. We want you to be 100% happy that your music has reached it's full sonic potential.