WHAT IS MASTERING?
Mastering is the final step in the audio chain, our job is to make sure the audio translates well across the required formats whether CD, vinyl or digital streaming. Mastering is a two way relationship, not only does the audio need to translate well across the various mediums, but you also need to be happy with the sound, and in some cases, a compromise needs to be found between these two factors.
WHAT FORMAT SHOULD MY MIX BE?
24bit / 32bit WAV or AIFF files sent online via WeTransfer, Dropbox or alternative. Leave the sample rate at the mixing projects existing sample rate when bouncing/rendering. If bouncing at 32bit, please make sure that no dither is selected. If bouncing at 24bit, please select the relevant dither, if unsure about this, please contact us. Do not use any mix bus limiting and leave a few DB of headroom and do not normalise the file.
WILL MASTERING CHANGE THE SOUND OF MY MIX?
This is completely dependent on your needs. The finished product can be transparent or coloured, less or more width, louder, thinner or fuller and so forth. When sending audio for mastering ensure you let us know exactly what you want from the finished product. If you do not tell us your aims and ideas for the audio, do not be surprised when the audio comes back sounding different to what you expect. This is completely mix dependant, a perfect mix may need minor or no tweaking, a mix with problems might need more surgical work. Please be thorough when explaining what you want and if possible, send audio examples for us to reference.
IS IT OK TO USE A BRICKWALL LIMITER ON MY OUTPUT?
No, please leave all processing off of the mix/output buss, limiting and even compression can sometimes mean that your audio can not be mastered at all. Brickwall limiting flattens transients and punch, this should be introduced at the final stage of mastering if needed as if done incorrectly, this can be detrimental to the finished sound and likely cause a bad/quiet cut if going onto vinyl or dubplate. Please leave limiting and compression for the mastering engineer.
WHY ARE VINYL MASTERS QUIETER THAN DIGITAL MASTERS?
When you receive your vinyl masters, the overall volume will be a lot quieter than CD or digital masters, due to having none, or little limiting and leaving headroom for the cutting engineer to work with the audio properly to ensure the best possible translation onto vinyl or dubplate. It is at this stage that the cutting engineer at the pressing plant will bring the overall level of the audio up to the highest volume possible.
I WANT MY MASTERS TO BE AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE
Whilst masters can be made loud, this will compromise dynamics and sound quality. Please remember if you are using streaming services like YouTube, Spotify etc, they use sound normalisation, so your loud master could even be made quieter (see info here: tinyurl.com/yaapcut3). We advise sound quality over sound volume but are happy to accommodate whatever requirements you need.
ARE DIGITAL AND VINYL MASTERS DIFFERENT?
A digital master for CD has to have a 16bit word length, this type of master can have as much limiting as required and be as loud as you want, this is also true for files for online streaming, except many platforms now accept 24-bit and higher sample rates. With the vinyl master there is a physical limit to what can be fed to the cutting head of the lathe, this means heavily clipped and limited masters are not welcome and can only be accommodated, if at all, by serious level reduction. For vinyl, the optimum source is 32-bit, dynamic, and no limiting at all. Other factors come into play, feel free to contact us and ask questions if there is anything you want to know.
CAN I SEND YOU A MP3?
No, we requite full, high resolution files of either WAVE or AIFF formats.
DO YOU OFFER DISCOUNTS FOR LARGER PROJECTS?
Yes, if you are working on an album or EP we can work out a discount for sure.
HOW LONG WILL THE MASTERING TAKE?
Usually a few days to a week per session, it can be quicker, or longer depending on your needs. When we send you your firs test master to hear, you then get 4 revisions, so please be thorough with notes and feedback.
WHAT IS YOUR VINYL MADE FROM?
We cut onto 2mm polyvinyl. This is a record made from a PVC compound designed and created specifically for record cutting using a diamond stylus. Unlike the traditional acetate dubplate which has a limited life span, polyvinyl lasts as long, if not longer than standard vinyl.