Help FAQ: Mastering

How should I prepare my source files to send for mastering?

It’s best to supply files for mastering at the same resolution, (sample size and sample rate), as your final mixed files.  24 bit/44.1khz or higher in interleaved and uncompressed WAV. or AIFF format is preferred.  It is best to include 10 seconds of space before and after each song.  Allow the music to breathe and don’t use buss compression, however if you feel the need to use buss compression then supply a flat version along with your buss compression version.   Make sure that the digital levels are between  -10 dBFS to -3 dBFS.

Master Format for CD Production - DDP  Master

If you are having CD discs manufactured you will need a CD master.   A DDP (Disc Description Protocol) master is a file that can be sent directly to the pressing plant via the internet and can be burned onto a DVD or backed up onto a hard drive as well for your personal safety copy.

HD Resolution Audiophile and ‘Mastered For iTunes’ (MFiT) Formats 

If you are recording at any resolution between 24 bit / 44.1kHz to 24 bit / 96kHz, we can provide you with a high definition master at the same resolution as your master recording. This new master is used for digital distribution of audiophile high resolution files that are not altered or compressed in any way.  These very large files are being sold at specialty websites such as ( ).

Another use of these HD masters are for Apples new initiative ‘Mastered For Itunes’ or MFiT files.  These files are delivered to iTunes in their original HD format and are converted by Apple resulting in a better transfer to their smaller format standards.  They are then sold on iTunes in a special area of the iTunes store.

CD+Text  verses  ‘ iTunes Text ’ ?

CD+Text usually contains information such as artist name, project title and song titles that can be encoded on a DDP master.  Not all CD players will display the text; usually only DJ and automobile CD players can read and display text from a disc.  This should not be confused with text that is displayed when a CD is inserted into a computer or what we call ‘iTunes text’.  iTunes uses an online Database called Gracenote to display the info about an audio disc. To enter iTunes text, enter the name, artist, and other relevant info into iTunes under the Advanced menu ‘Submit CD Track Name’. This will update the Gracenote database which all iTunes users will be able to access.  The information usually takes two to three days to appear.

What are ISRC’s?

ISRCs or International Standard Recording Codes is a 12 digit code that identify a sound recording, regardless of the format on which it is used, and independent of any changes in  ownership.  Digital distributors including iTunes use them to track sales and radio stations use them to track the number of plays to calculate royalty payments.  If you want us to encode ISRC’s in your DDP production master file, they need to be obtained before the master can be generated.   

Do you accept stems?

We accept stems for mastering from 44.1Khz thru 96Khz. provided on a hard drive, CD, DVD or internet files.

What are Mastering Stems or Separations?

Stems are the equivalent of your stereo mix broken down into several  separate tracks. (Ex. Bass, Drums, Instruments, Vocals) Stem Mastering allows us to correct problems with individual instruments.  For Example, if you have a song that needs more bass, but not more kick drum, stems will allow us to correct this without compromise.  With a stereo mix it is impossible to increase just the bass because it shares the same frequencies as the kick drum.

How Do I Prepare Stems?

Before you are ready to prepare stems, you should first create a standard 2-track stereo mix that is approved and ready for mastering.   Next you should choose your stem groupings.   You want to make a stem for each element in your mix that you would like control over.  Many times this depends on the style of music.  We suggest you keep the echo and effects on the source stem instead of making a separate stem.  This way raising the level on a stem track will keep the same relationship with the effect. When you play all of your stems simultaneously they should sound exactly like your two-track stereo mix. If you layout your mix with stems in mind it should simplify the process. If you have any questions, feel free to call 201-766-1520 or  email.

What kinds of Masters do you provide?

        - DDP Files

        - Standard WAV files

        - HD and Apple MFiT WAV files