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Go to the bottom of this page How to prepare your tracks for the mastering studio
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thechronic thechronic is a male
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How to prepare your tracks for the mastering studio Reply to this Post Post Reply with Quote Edit/Delete Posts Report Post to a Moderator       Go to the top of this page

Guidelines to send in your stuff for mastering

This is a preparation guide for people who want to send their tracks to be mastered at a professional mastering studio.


Preparations

Mix preparation:
- mixdown the track without mastering processing (no fade in/out, compression, limiting or EQ on the master stereo channel!)
- adjust your master fader so that your master volume is peaking at around -6dB (to avoid any 'overs')


Mixdown file specs:
- format: WAV or AIFF
- sampling rate: 44.1, 88.2 or 96kHz (88.2 preferred for CD master, 96 preferred for vinyl master)
- bit depth: 16, 20 or 24 bit (24 bit preferred)


Reference tracks:
Find 2 reference tracks - go through your CD collection and find some tracks of which you think they sound superb and which are similar in style to yours. These can be used as a reference when doing the mastering.
These tracks don't necessarily have to be in WAV format, but can be in high quality mp3 format too. Minimum bitrate 192 kbps (256kbps or 320kbps preferred).


Your own master:
It's nice if you can include a version of the tune you mastered yourself. This can also be in high quality MP3 format. The mastering engineer can use this to have an impression of what you would prefer it to sound like, and if it is well done it can be used as an additional reference.



Sending the tracks

By FTP:
In most cases you can upload the files to an FTP server for minimal hassle. The mastering studio will provide you the log in details.


On a CD:
Alternatively you can send the files on a CD. Beware that CD's can have write errors on them which can end up on the final master, so you have to take care when burning the CD.
  • Write a data CD, *not an audio CD*!!
    Data CD's have many advantages such as better error checking, possibility to verify the CD after burning, and the engineer can simply copy the files into the mastering software.
    Also higher sampling rates and bit depths (like 24-bit 96kHz) are not supported by audio CD's and will be converted by the burning program, which makes you lose quality.
  • Use good quality branded media
  • Write at a very low speed (1X if possible, never more than 8X)
  • Verify the data after burning


In some cases it is possible that the mastering engineer will ask you to make some adjustments to the mix if there are some problems with the balance or something else. Remember that a good master can only be done on a good mixdown! "You can't polish a turd"

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15-12-2005 19:31 Send an Email to thechronic Homepage of thechronic Search for Posts by thechronic Add thechronic to your Buddy List
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Nice tips!! Thank you

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yes, thanks.
I did not imagine that it were necessary to fill conditions as many, especially for the criterion of the -6dB to -10 dB.
you speak about the "Tune Of The Month Winner" has which you offer a mastering ? ???? Confused

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Big Grin

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guys, you gotta understand.. those are not tips, they are GUIDELINES.. there's a difference

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cheers chronic Bigup mad pointers

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If you are transferring by FTP you can compress your audio using lossless codecs (such as FLAC) to speed up the transfers.

It's best to ask the engineer which codecs he can work with, but it's likely that they accept any popular format.

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-6dB to -10dB? that seems like a really low volume to mix things at, is that what you should be aiming for with a standard dB meter? or are you referring to a different metering mode? i understand that its to stop anything going 'over' but it still seems a little low......

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quote:
Originally posted by sephiroth
-6dB to -10dB? that seems like a really low volume to mix things at, is that what you should be aiming for with a standard dB meter? or are you referring to a different metering mode? i understand that its to stop anything going 'over' but it still seems a little low......

It's just a guideline. If you peak at -1dB and are sure you have no 'overs' it's fine as well. And you don't need to 'mix' at this volume, if you mean to listen to this level while working on the mix. Just take down the master fader when you are done mixing and ready to bounce the final WAV.

-6dB is not low at all by the way and is very easy to spot on most meters. If you work in 24 bit you have a total dynamic range of 144dB. So peaking at -6dB you will still have 138dB left which is more than enough.

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ah i see, so your still mixing as loud as possible (which seems to be the trend nowadays from what ive read), without peaking, but when preparing the mix for the mastering studio, the master fader needs to be lowered to between -6dB and -10dB to give the mastering engineer some headroom.....is this right or am i talking bollocks?
Confused

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jus realised my own stupidity Roll Eyes i take it your referring to between -6dB and -10dB rms and not peak? stupid fl studio and its peak meter confusing my fraglile little mind. those rms values make perfectly good sense to give a mastering engineer a little headroom.

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quote:
Originally posted by thechronic
quote:
Originally posted by sephiroth
-6dB to -10dB? that seems like a really low volume to mix things at, is that what you should be aiming for with a standard dB meter? or are you referring to a different metering mode? i understand that its to stop anything going 'over' but it still seems a little low......

It's just a guideline. If you peak at -1dB and are sure you have no 'overs' it's fine as well. And you don't need to 'mix' at this volume, if you mean to listen to this level while working on the mix. Just take down the master fader when you are done mixing and ready to bounce the final WAV.

-6dB is not low at all by the way and is very easy to spot on most meters. If you work in 24 bit you have a total dynamic range of 144dB. So peaking at -6dB you will still have 138dB left which is more than enough.


except every 3 db the enrgy doubles, so it seem slike a lot but it's about a 1/3 of that. but still. and precived sound it's every 10 db....

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This post has been edited 1 time(s), it was last edited by Halph-Price: 08-05-2008 04:07.

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cheers chron man, some good guides there

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http://mixonline.com/recording/mixing/au...s_new_sampling/

A nice read about 44.1 kHz / 16-bit (Audio CD quality)

My only comment about it would be that any, even a slight downgrade of the audiowaves could lead to a different result.

But: If you send in a 44.1 kHz / 16-bit wavefile to master, and the end-result will be a 44.1 kHz / 16-bit wavefile, would it be different if you had sent in an 88.2 kHz / 24-bit wavefile?

The only difference - as it looks to me - is that in case 1 the person who is mastering the track will already be hearing the output quality and master on that, whereas if the input quality is higher, he can master it and only after mastering the wavefile is "downgraded". It seems like a better idea to work in the final quality at all times to me, or could someone explain to me why it's not like that?

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44.1 khz is the standard for audio cd's, other sample rates for music are usually doubled, i.e. 88.2, 176.4 - if your audio interface (+ software) can handle 88.2/ 176.4 khz then go for it and record, mix etc your track at that sample rate.....its more than likely that the mastering engineer will be using pro tools anyway which can handle samples up to 192khz (or 96 khz at least)....when mastered to cd, the mastered track will be 44.1 even if mixed at 88.2 or 176.4. but it would need dither applied during mastering to kinda 'preserve' the sound when the sample rate gets lower. a higher sample rate will allow you to create a more accurate mix before its mastered but it will depend on your soundcard/ software. 48, 96 + 192 khz are more the standard sample rates for dvd and film i think.

Confused im not 100% sure thats right, anyone help?

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Jimmy said to me to export wav at 48khz 24bit.
And to export with no plugins on master (compressors, limiters etc) and also to turn the master down a little bit to give more headroom.

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quote:
Originally posted by TheSentinel
Jimmy said to me to export wav at 48khz 24bit.
And to export with no plugins on master (compressors, limiters etc) and also to turn the master down a little bit to give more headroom.


Bear in mind I'm not the most technical guy when it comes to mastering!

I'm not too bothered about the sample rate being stupidly high but the bit depth really needs to be 24bit imo

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yeh 24-bit is defo better, i was just saying that 16-bit is common for audio cd's and 24-bit common for dvd but hardware interfaces tend to support both. 24-bit is obviosuly more accurate (more dynamic range etc) but it'll end up on an audio cd as 16-bit (if mastered to cd that is). thats where dither comes in i guess, when the sample rate is being decreased, it does something magical. couldnt explain dither to save my life tho....

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It sort of fills in the missing pieces/gaps so it still flows smoothly.
Something along those lines.

I don't remember the actual explaination.
Just that it creates noise to fill in the bits that are missing when you downgrade the bitrate/samples etc.

I think.

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http://www.hifi-writer.com/he/dvdaudio/dither.htm

it explains various forms of dithering.

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