Mastering begins by addressing the processes that are traditionally known as 'pre-mastering'. Pre-mastering comprises anything that affects the sound of the project, like maintaining a consistent, musically-appropriate approach to tone, dynamics, and loudness across a collection of mixes. After the mixes are processed, a master is created including all relevant metadata, edited transitions, and CD track spacing.
At the end of the session we'll generate reference media so you can listen to the master in your own familiar playback environments. Depending on your distribution medium, your reference can be a Red Book CD-DA, a DDP image, or any applicable compressed audio formats. For DDP, Anthem Mastering will provide a complimentary authorization for Audiofile Engineering's Backline DDP Player.
Sometimes clients decide to make changes to the master or the sequence, like switching song order or using a different version of a mix. Those revisions will be booked promptly, and will also generate reference media.
Once a reference is approved, we'll author a master DDP image or Red Book CD master for replication, and a master fileset for online distribution. CD masters will include PQ subcodes, CD-Text, and ISRC codes (if provided). Every master is quality-checked to ensure flawless performance during replication.How much does it cost?
$40 per song, plus any applicable shipping costs. If you have more specific questions about rates or scheduling, please email email@example.com or call Rob Schlette at 651.335.8076 to discuss your project.
We accept personal and corporate checks, as well as PayPal. Full payment is required before we will release, ship, or upload masters.How do I get my mixes to Anthem Mastering?
Anthem Mastering will provide clients with secure dropbox or ftp resources to upload mix files and session notes. Of course if you're in St. Louis you can bring your files with you to your session.
For mixes delivered on 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch tape, please email first to get specific shipping instructions. Do not ship tapes or hard drives that are not backed up.What other information should I provide for the mastering process?
In addition to your mix masters, we'll need a song order listing with complete song titles, the project title, artist name(s), and any general notes you might have about the mixes, your sonic goals, or transitions. If you need hard-copy CD masters, we'll also need a shipping address.What is Disc Description Protocol (DDP)?
Anthem Mastering will provide a DDP image for CD reference and delivery. Disc Description Protocol (DDP) is a standardized format for providing a master disc image for CD or DVD replication. DDP images can be uploaded directly to replicators for seamless, dependable master delivery.
Anthem Mastering provides a complimentary 30-day authorization of the Backline DDP Player from Audiofile Engineering. With Backline DDP you can audition your project and burn Red Book reference CD’s on almost any Mac. It’s really easy; here are the details.
There is nothing more reliable than DDP for delivering your replication data. That said, some replicators still choose to require CD delivery. In this case, be sure to provide an appropriate shipping address for CD masters or reference discs.What is ISRC?
The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is issued by the US ISRC as a tool for identification and catalog administration. If you provide ISRC numbers, we can include this information in the metadata on your Red Book CD-DA master. For more information on obtaining ISRC numbers prior to your mastering session, check out this page.What is CD-Text?
CD-Text is an Interactive Text Transmission System (ITTS) that was added to the Red Book CD-DA standard in 1996. Using CD-Text, information like Artist Name, Album Title, and Song Title is stored in the lead-in of a Red Book CD. CD players and CD-ROM drives that support CD-Text can display that information during playback.
CD-Text does not supply metadata to digital media applications like iTunes, WMP, or Spotify. Rather, these types of applications use one or more online databases like the Gracenote CDDB to access a much more detailed set of track-specific metadata.
Regardless of the choice to use CD-Text or not, CD database information must be submitted separately. Submitting to the Gracenote CDDB is as simple as inserting the CD into your computer, manually entering the information into the appropriate fields in iTunes, and choosing ‘Submit CD Track Names’ from the Advanced menu. For more information, visit Gracenote's FAQ.Are there industry-standard guidelines for bouncing/creating digital mix masters?
Yes. The P&E Wing of the Recording Academy has established and maintains:
"Recommendations for Delivery of Recorded Music Projects"
Remember, there are Mix Masters and then there are Replication or Download Masters. Your project isn’t finished until it has been mastered, so the relative loudness of a mix does not represent the final level of the project. Comparing the loudness of a Mix Master with a finished commercial CD is not particularly useful.
That said there are a lot of aspects of mixes that directly contribute to the eventual loudness of a finished master. So what should you be listening for while you’re mixing? Here’s an example scenario:
My client has brought me a set of 5 multi-track recordings to mix. The client is very concerned that her project fit in with the latest CD from Artist X as much as possible, including being equally loud. Here are some things I’ll be sure to pay attention to while I'm mixing:
- What is the loudest instrument in Artist X’s mixes? The answer is probably pretty consistent across the whole CD. I’ll be sure to use a similar approach with my client’s project.
- What are the relative loudness relationships between kick, snare, bass, and lead vocal? These relationships go a long way in establishing the fundamental structure of mixes in a lot of genres. Give your reference a listen; you might be surprised.
- What is the brightest instrument in Artist X’s mixes? Transience is a big component in apparent loudness. Pay particular attention to tonal contrast between instruments to get the most impact out of any particular tone.
- Apparent dynamic range can have a lot to do with panning and depth. Do Artist X’s mixes have a lot of subtle panning, or are they 3-channel stereo? What is the contrast between the instruments that seem nearest to the listener and furthest away?
These sorts of musically relevant aspects of mix structure will help you create consistent, engaging mixes that fit into a genre in a lot of fundamental ways. The mastering process can then help prepare those mixes for their commercial audience, including addressing their market loudness.Should I bounce mix stems, or mix reductions?
Instrumental and A Cappella mix reductions can be very useful in a lot of scenarios, including live performance, remixing, music for advertising, and creating ‘clean’ versions (a.k.a. radio edits). Be sure to bounce Full, Instrumental, and A Cappella mixes from the same timeline selection to ensure flawless synchronization. In general, it’s better to take the time to carefully bounce these sorts of additional 2-track resources at the end of a mixing session than to rely on mix recall to generate them later.