FAQ

What format should my mixes be?
What is the anticipated turnaround time for the mastering?
What will I get once the mastering is done? What types of masters are there?
ISRC’s (International Standard Recording Code)
CD-Text vs. Gracenote online database
What should I expect during the mastering process? What is the workflow?
Is my input welcome in the mastering process?


What format should my mixes be?
For digital sources, I prefer 24-bit, stereo-interleaved, .wav or .aif files at whatever sample rate you have been working at. There is no need to sample rate or bit depth convert on your end as it’s better for me to do it. Please do not send SD2 files, mp3’s, or any lossy, data compressed sound files. I am also able to work with Masterlink discs, Audio CD’s, and DAT’s if there are no alternatives. If you are an engineer and have given your clients “loudened” mixes for their approval, please send me these loudened mixes as well as their flat versions. This gives me an indication of what the artist has been listening to.

For analog sources, I can play 1/2″ (half-track) and 1/4″ (half or quarter-track) tapes. Whenever possible, 1/2″ and 1/4″ tapes should have alignment tones (1kHz, 10kHz, 100Hz at least). Analog cassettes and vinyl records can also be used if there is no alternative.

What is the anticipated turnaround time for the mastering?
From the time I receive the mixes, please allow 1 to 2 weeks for the mastering process to take place. In most cases, I will send you the first version within a few days, which will leave time for adjustments if they are needed. Since most CD manufacturers recommend 3 to 4 weeks for their process, please schedule your mastering session 5 to 6 weeks prior to when you need your CD’s in hand. This should leave you with enough time to make sure everything is how you want it to be.

What will I get once the mastering is done? What types of masters are there?
For CD manufacturing, you will receive either a DDP or a PMCD, depending on which format your manufacturer prefers.

A DDP (Disc Description Protocol) is a CD image file set which contains the audio data and PQ information for your CD. Most manufacturers nowadays will accept this format, but you should check with them to be sure. The DDP files can be zipped together and sent over the internet directly to the manufacturer, which saves time and shipping costs. It can also be stored on a data CD-ROM if a physical master is preferred.

A PMCD (Pre Master CD or Production Master CD) is a standard Red Book compliant audio CD. It is playable in a CD player, though I recommend you not to play it to avoid any possible damage. It will come with PQ and error log printouts which should be sent with the disc to the manufacturer.

If you plan to use a “short-run” type of CD duplication service, I will give you 16-bit audio files which can be uploaded directly to most manufacturers’ websites.

For the creation of lossy, compressed audio files (mp3 , AAC) for your Digital release, I can give you 16 or 24-bit audio files at whatever sample rate you need. iTunes now accepts up to 96kHz, 24-bit .wav files from which they create the AAC’s for download. Other sites are starting to do the same. Let me know who your digital distributor will be and what they require, and I’ll plan the mastering accordingly.

For vinyl releases, I will provide you with 24-bit audio files edited with the desired side splits. This simply means that there will be separate “Side A” and “Side B” files which will make it easier for the cutting engineer.

If you plan to do your own editing and sequencing, I can deliver either 16 or 24-bit audio files at whatever sample rate you need, head and tail faded or unfaded. Please let me know in advance if this is what you want.

If you will need high resolution files for HD tracks or other distributors, please let me know prior to the mastering and I will master accordingly.

ISRC’s (International Standard Recording Code)
A unique alphanumeric code, called an ISRC, can be assigned to each track of your project for the purpose of tracking plays for royalty collection and for tracking sales of digital downloads. ISRC’s can be encoded onto each track of a DDP or PMCD which would then be transferred to the manufactured CD’s. To do this, you will need to apply for a registrant code if you do not already have one. More info can be obtained at the www.usisrc.org website. It’s a good idea to do this if possible, but it is not mandatory. Probably less than half of my clients have them. If you have them at the time of the mastering, great, if not, I won’t need these until I create the final PMCD or DDP master.

CD-Text vs. Gracenote online database
There is sometimes confusion regarding CD-Text and internet based databases, such as Gracenote, with regards to displaying the titles and artist information of a CD. CD-Text can be encoded onto a DDP or PMCD which would then be transferred to the manufactured CD’s. CD-Text is only readable in CD-Text enabled players, such as some car and component style players. It is not, however, readable by iTunes or many other computer based media players. For the titles and timings to appear in iTunes and other computer based media players, the title and artist information will need to be submitted to the Gracenote (or other) online database. This is very easy to do and I can walk you through the process.

What should I expect during the mastering process? What is the workflow?
After the initial session, I will either upload audio files or give you a Reference CD for your review. After you have listened to this initial version, you should let me know if there are any adjustments you would like made. Once the mastering has been approved, I will send you all of the required deliverables. Please allow for shipping time for physical masters.

Is my input welcome in the mastering process?
Yes, absolutely. Please give me any notes and directions you have at the beginning of your session. If you are not attending the session, it would be great if we can have a simple phone or email conversation regarding the desired outcome once I have received your mixes. This will help you to achieve what you are looking for from the mastering process. For spaces between tracks, I generally do them by feel unless otherwise directed. If you have a specific idea about the spacing, feel free to send me a mockup audio file of the whole project with the spacings as you would like them. I can then edit the mastered audio files to match it. A wav file is great, but an mp3 would be sufficient for this as well.