Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirement for the best outcome?
Avoid highly limited (maximized) mixes!
A compressor, sometimes even a limiter, that contributes to the artistic outcome of the mix, is no problem.
A headroom is necessary to prevent digital overloads. Further reduction of the level (-6db etc.) is an avoidable digital process on your mix.
Check your mixes for mono compatibility. If your mix looses important aspects or instruments in mono, expect this to happen on several systems like radio, clubs and boom boxes.
Preferably have the original sample rate of your production to be sent for mastering. Avoid sample rate conversions.
Please mind, that we work and communicate on the base of filenames (not song titles). This grants both parties to locate mixes or masters, even if the order has been completed years ago and the song has been renamed.
To communicate musical intentions, you might want to send a “reference song”.
Please let us know, if you need “Apple-Digital-Masters”. We offer this service free of charge.
We will return your recordings as digital audio masters, 44.1khz/24bit/wav-files. Please let us know, if you need further formats as like Vinyl-Ready, 16Bit-Files, 48Khz video resolution, etc.
What about CD masters?
ISRC, CD-Text and/or EAN for compiling should be attached to your delivery, if they are available. Please keep in mind, that cd-text needs to be writte in ISO 8859-1 (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8859-1#ISO.2FIEC_8859-1) only. Basically this means to avoid any fancy letters. Think of doimain names 😉
As most CD masters are delivered as DDP-files, a DDP-player comes in convinient, when CD masters need to be checked by the client. There are several free player on the net, that solve this problem.
What to consider, if my music will be pressed on vinyl?
Keep the playtime limits of your record in mind to avoid problems in the cutting booth. If in doubt, a net search for “pressing plants” always leads you to some sort of list for playtime limits.
Have a look at the topic about “mono compatibility” below.
Would you wish to receive the masters as 2 audio files (a-side & b-side), or as separate track files? Here the pauses between tracks are appended to the tail of the tracks. If in doubt, please ask your pressing plant, what they prefer.
If you like to understand the technical magic behind vinyl records, you might want to have a look at this: Stereo Disc Recording
Do i need to care about “mono compatibility”?
It is a grey zone, and decisions need to be made on the individual track and it’s final destination.
Vinyl tracks with a too broad stereo-field in the low frequency spectrum can cause a needle to jump out of the groove.
Tracks that have a high amount of “phased out content”, collapse in mono-mode to a degree, that can change the whole appearance of the mix in a negative way.
Even smaller phase issues can cause a mix to sound blurry, unfocussed or indirect. Especially, if the playback situation is less than perfect.
Most soundsystems use mono-subwoofers. Here the bass can lose energy through phase cancellation.
Again, it’s a technical issue, that can be a problem, but is a grey zone that needs the artists/producers/labels evaluation. We will let you know, if any such problems appear.
What means “Apple Digital Music”?
Apple Digital Music is Apple’s quality standard for premium releases.
Only the white-listed Mastering engineers are able to label their masters “Apple Digital Music”.
The benefit of this label is questioned frequently. Some voices talk about a promotional effect, others about a better ranking in the Store.
Basically the label grants a minimum sound quality – that’s it. If you wish to use that label, we will provide you with our Apple Digital Music-ID. Beside that, the product can be equipped with further information like credits and extended artwork.
What is “Stem Mastering” and do i need it?
With stem mastering the mix is not delivered as one stereo file, but several groups that together reassemble to the complete mix. These stems will be mastered separately and then together again as one mix.
Stem mastering makes sense, if you have music that is also used for playback- or TV shows. Here you need a regular master, but also an instrumental or playback to sing along. This means you need two stems: Instrumental & Vocal. Another application for stems could be a mix with problems, that can’t be solved in the production stage. For example, homestudios that are in doubt with the amount and sound of their “low end”. Here a separation like “bass-stem”, “kick drum-stem” and “rest of the mix” would make sense.
We also offer “mix-mastering” on request. Here the complete mix with all its separate tracks is delivered to us for mastering.
With stems the producer should keep a few aspects in mind:
1. Stems need to add up to the original mix. For example, vocal stem + Instrumental stem add up to the initial mix again.
2. The original mix should be sent as well for verification.
3. The “artistic” use of master-buss-processes, such as compression and saturation are no problem when creating the stems during mix. Just leave out the Limiter / Maximizer.