Mastering is the last step that a record experiences before getting to the factory, and is the last chance for an artist, producer or a company to make their record sound the best possible way, and therefore make it more competitive at national and international markets – besides improving its artistic message, helping that record to withstand the test of time.
REMEMBER – YOUR MUSIC GETS ONLY ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION.
Many people believe that music mastering has an air of the esoteric, or that it is a kind of voodoo, and that it is therefore not necessary for their own audio projects. These are the people who would say that audio mastering services are not worth spending any money on. But the truth tells a different story: good music mastering can make all the difference between a good and a fantastic sounding recording. Mastering generally brings about dramatic improvements in terms of overall sound quality, and it makes a recording sound more professional, better balanced, and simply sweeter to the ear. Without exception, every commercial CD released by a major label was mastered professionally before it went into production. Even recordings done in the best and most expensive studios are sent off to a professional mastering facility once the mixing process is completed. What can you expect from a mastering? The mastering procedure includes the following steps:
- differentiation of Vinyl or CD mastering
- EQ-processing (stereo and/or MS)
- compression (stereo and/or MS)
- realization of a balanced frequency spectrum
- removal of interfering frequencies
- volume optimization
- adding more punch and warmth to the production (if needed)
- adding tape saturation for a more analogue feeling (if needed)
- improvement of the stereo field (phase correction)
Professional music mastering is and will always be a complex task. It takes time, needs the well-trained ears of an experienced mastering engineer, a professional listening environment with an acoustically optimized room, and a mastering-grade monitoring system, plus lots of expensive analog and digital mastering tools. Take all of this into account when you are searching the web for a truly professional service that will master your music properly. A company that offers ultra exclusive high-end audio mastering online, with the finest analog and digital tools, for just $9.99 per track, can be nothing but a fake. Also try to avoid many phantom "mastering-services" who publish on their web-pages photos of other luxury mastering facilities and in real life have only set of trivial plug-ins in a simple computer located in an ordinary living room. There is no way to check it and disastrous results of their "work" make a negative impact on the overall image and status of mastering industry in general.
Before and after examples
Artist: Esiko | Track "In Dub". © Esiko.
Artist: The Conspirators | Track "Rock Jesus". © The Conspirators.
Artist: The Conspirators | Track "The Whooper". © The Conspirators.
- STEREO MASTERING (CD, Vinyl, Online services) - $80 / $65
- Mastering of one stereo mix. Price per track ordering 1-4 tracks / 5 and more tracks respectively. Attended and unattended (e-mastering) mastering session available. Mix consultation and feedback (without mastering) is free of any charge.
- STEM MASTERING (MIXING) - depend on track
- Mastering of a mix of maximum 4 stereo stems.
- DJ MIX'S MASTERING - $150 / $190
- Mastering of one DJ stereo set 60 / 90 min respectively.
- MASTERING TO TAPE + $40
- Mastering of one stereo mix to analog tape. Addition to price per track.
- DDP Image FILE MASTER - $80
- A physical Red Book CD or DDPi master disc.
CD Text & CDDB
I encode CD Text on all my client's red book master discs. However, this is different from CDDB information that online music services use to identify songs when a disc is placed in a computer with Internet access. It is the artist's responsibility to register CDDB information with Gracenote.
It is also the artist / label's responsibility to obtain and supply UPC/EAN and ISRC codes if they would like Plasmid Sound to encode that information in their album. Feel free to contact me with any technical questions you have about mastering your project.
Stem-mastering is a technique derived from stem mixing. Just like in stem-mixing, the individual audio tracks are grouped together to allow for independent control and signal processing of each stem and can be manipulated independently from each other. It is like using the sub groups on a live mixing console. Instead of everything being summed to the stereo master output to create a single stereo mix file, you can break the mix down into the specific parts. These parts can then each receive special attention in the mastering session. For example, you could create a stereo drum track stem, a stem combining a stereo vocal track with backing vocals and vocal effects mixed in, and a final stem combining the remaining instruments. These stems are exported with the exact same start time, then assembled again in a multi-track stem mastering session where the mastering engineer can address these mix problems more effectively. For instance, I could EQ the bass guitar without altering other areas of the mix, de-ess the vocals without effecting the cymbals, raise or lower the drums for more or less impact.
WHY DO IT?
Under the right circumstances, stem mastering can make a very big difference to the sound of the finished master. Stem mastering effectively finishes off the mix in a controlled environment, which in turn helps the mastering process achieve the maximum sonic potential for the project. Clients with limited mixing experience, engineers with poor monitoring, and recordings produced with low budget equipment can all benefit from stem mastering.
DOES IT COST MORE?
Stem mastering is more expensive than mastering a stereo track. The time required largely depends on the quantity and quality of the stem files provided and how much work is required to obtain the best results.
Mastering of DJ Mixes
DJ mixes are actually one of the more difficult things to master as there are so many disparate elements going into it. The fact that all of the tunes are already mastered is irrelevant; they all sound different (vinyl tracks versus CD's), and the challenge is getting them to sound like they work together. This often means automating EQ and compressor settings throughout the entire mix or some tricks with phase and parallel processing. Many electronic producers aren't working with the best knowledge of mixing, so it can be hard to wrangle everything to a middle ground. The goal of mastering engineer is to make mix sound monolithic as a single audio image from beginning to the end.
- Audio CD
- WAV, AIFF, SD2 with sample rates and bit depths up to 96KHz and 32 bit float
- 1/4" tape at 7.5 ips and 15 ips
- Audio cassete