How do I prep my files for mastering?
If you’re a home recorder and have never had your record professionally mastered before, we can guide you through the process. Check out our detailed tutorial just for you: “How to prepare your record for online mastering”. (TL;DR – Make sure there are no overs, leave some headroom, and remove any pre-mastering processing such as limiting.) If you’re a seasoned producer/engineer and you know what to do, get in touch to get started!)
How long will it take? And can I attend?
For albums recorded and mixed in a consistent methodology, a full-length (40-50 minutes), typically will take between 4 to 6 hours to master. An EP of 20-30 minutes usually runs about 2 to 4 hours to master. A single can range from 30 mins to an hour. This is all dependent on the quality and consistency of your mixes and any audio hurdles we encounter. The more cohesive the album the less time it will take.
When you contact us to schedule a session, let us know if you’d like to attend – Mat typically starts mastering session in the morning when his ears are most fresh. If that works with your schedule he’d love to have you sit in. If you are not attending your session, you can expect to be able to download your master at the end of that same day. Touchups, if necessary, are included.
How do we work together if I am not attending my session?
You can send us your mix files using wetransfer.com or whatever file sharing service you prefer. For added file integrity and to minimize the possibility of errors, we recommend zip your files.
Will I be able to make changes once you start mastering?
Of course! After you receive the initial master, you can send back notes for revisions as detailed as you like. We don’t place a limit on mastering revisions (though we ask you to be organized, specific, and reasonable). Any revisions that involve submitting a new mix will incur an additional fee of $25/song.
Do you master “In The Box” or in the analog domain?
We generally master in the analog domain not because it’s better or worse than digital (that is a dated argument) but we feel it sounds better and we have more control over your music. We have sophisticated analog modern and vintage gear but better yet, we have been working with it for years which has given us the know-how to get the best out of your songs! We use different methods depending on your goals and expectations and in the end, what the song is asking for.
Do you offer tape layback?
Tape layback involves bouncing your mixes to analog tape, which organically instills EQ, wonderful harmonic distortion and compression characteristics that can greatly compliment some recordings. Then you bounce back to the DAW. Bouncing to tape is a great way to achieve a louder mix in a more kind and gentler fashion. It’s also the perfect antidote to that sterilized digital sound that can affect tracks recorded and mixed entirely within a DAW (“in the box”.) We can offer layback to 1/4″ tape at 7.5, 15 or 30 IPS.
That said, we have a gorgeous ¼” Otari tape machine that has a colorful and historic past. It also sounds fantastic and can add that glue that your mixes yearn to have! If your printed mix-downs are on ¼” tape, send them to us. Please label your reels and be sure to also include at least 30 second test tones for tape machine alignment. We are such fans of analog tape goodness, that we do not charge extra for tape layback.
What files will I receive after mastering?
After the final master is approved, we’ll send you:
- CD format files, 16-bit 44.1kHz PCM
- Mastered for iTunes digital files (MFiT), 24-bit with sample rates up to 96kHz
- MP3 320Kbps LAME files
- DDP 2.0 image file (if requested)
If there is another format that you require, please let us know in advance.
What’s the next step after mastering?
After mastering, your record is ready to be distributed. It’s important to research and make a plan for distribution before you start mastering. Where you choose to distribute your music will affect which mastering services you opt for and how we prepare your tracks. Are you putting it out online with iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify or Tidal? Are you releasing it on a physical medium like vinyl, cassette, CD or wax cylinder. Or will you sign up with an aggregator to handle everything for you like TuneCore, DistroKid or CDBaby? Each distribution method has its pros and cons to carefully consider in terms of audience, cost/profitability, convenience, and sound. Evaluate what makes the most sense for you and let us know your distribution plans when you book your mastering.
What’s included in the mastering service?
When you work with us to master your record, you’ll receive the following:
- Consultation and advice
- Establishing best method of transfer
- EQ, compression and limiting
- Noise reduction, click removal and stereo enhancement
- Analog tape pass through (if requested)
- Tops and tail fades
- ISRC code insertion
- PQ encoding
- DDP Image (if requested)
- Download delivery