HOW Do I PREPARE my MIXES?
- High-res files (WAV, AIFF) and take off 2 mix plugs
- Prefer higher sampling rates (96k or 88.2k)
- Don't "upsample" 44.1k or 48k up to a higher sampling rate (you could screw up the fidelity of the final product!)
- leave a second or two before and after audio begins
- label file carefully
PRIOR TO MASTERING, WHAT SHOULD I NOT DO? (FOR YOUR MIX ENGINEER)
The most important “Don’t” is limiting or normalizing the mix. It’s common for mix engineers to apply EQ and/or compression to their whole mix. If either of these occur before mastering it really ties the hands of the mastering engineer. Saving those decisions for the mastering stage is critical.
DO I ATTEND? WHAT DO I BRING TO THE SESSION?
Most mastering clients do not attend the session; however, you're more than welcome to. About 50% of our clients prefer to attend the last hour of their mastering session. However, many drop off hard drives, data discs, or deliver mixes online and never attend the session.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? What are the mastering rates?
Receive a custom quote by contacting us. Mastering prices vary depending on the time required. The time required depends on a billion variables, so the best thing to do is contact us - we'll listen to your mixes, talk over the project, and get a feel for what you're looking for.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
It depends. Generally, mastering takes 1 day. The track density/complexity, dynamics, incoming quality of recording/mix, and the total length of music will all factor into the required mastering time. Also, having consistency (instrumentation on each song, how music was recorded, a single mix engineer) can help reduce the amount of time required for mastering.
I'M NOT SURE HOW TO LISTEN TO MY COMPLETED MASTERS.
Compare apples to apples → Source file volume offset! Your master will be louder than your original mix. You need to match the volume you're listening at so you perceive both the mix and master to be the same level (or equal loudness). Also, it helps to listen to it through something bigger than your iPhone speaker ;)
CAN YOU EXPLAIN MORE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS DURING MASTERING?
Like people, every track is different. Mastering depends on the specific needs of the audio to be processed. There is no one-size fits all solution. However, here are some general examples of actions taken during mastering:
- Apply noise reduction to eliminate hum and hiss.
- Edit minor flaws.
- Adjust stereo width.
- Add ambience.
- Equalize audio between tracks.
- Adjust volumes.
- Dynamic expansion.
- Dynamic compression.
- Peak limit the tracks.
- Sequence the separate songs or tracks (the spaces in between) as they will appear on the final product (for example, an audio CD).
- Process or “sweeten” audio to maximize the sound quality for its particular medium.
- Transfer the audio to the final master format (i.e., Red Book-compatible audio CD or a CD-ROM data, half-inch reel tape, PCM 1630 U-matic tape, etc.)
The guidelines above are mainly descriptive of the mastering process and not considered specific instructions applicable in a given situation. Mastering engineers need to examine the types of input media, the expectations of the source producer or recipient, the limitations of the end medium and process the subject accordingly. General rules of thumb can rarely be applied.