Sending your audio
Audio can be supplied
- As soundfiles on data CD or DVD, data drive or via the internet – see ‘e-Mastering’ below
- On an audio CD
- On a vinyl record
- On cassette tape
- On an Alesis Masterlink CD24 format CD
Other formats by arrangement.
You can send your tracks over the internet using a file-sharing service such as Wetransfer or Dropbox – files should preferably be 24-bit and at the original project sample rate. Mastered files will be returned for approval, and once signed off a master for manufacture or digital distribution will be provided to you or the manufacturer/distributor of your choice.
Lately there’s been a welcome trend towards releases on vinyl records alongside the CD version, or on vinyl alone – vinyl benefits from a 24-bit master without the loudness ‘tricks’ typical on a CD, giving the eventual cutting engineer freedom when making the transfer. We can recommend record pressing plants who include the cut as part of a manufacturing package, and also specialist cutting engineers: please contact us for further details.
Denoising and restoration
With some of the best denoising tools available we can restore your audio to pristine condition: processes such as hiss, hum and crackle removal together with declicking, declipping and more are available. Sources include soundfiles, tape and vinyl on both recent and older material.
We can evaluate your mixes if required, identifying things such as low frequency problems which can be adjusted before mastering to help achieve a better final result. There is no charge for this service to mastering customers.
Rates and payment
We charge an hourly rate with additional incidental and master charges, and also offer package deals paid in advance after project costs have been agreed. Extra time and attended sessions are charged at the standard rate, with payment in full before final masters are released.
For UK customers prices are plus VAT, and for those in the EU a VAT registration number is required for VAT to not be charged. VAT does not apply to customers outside the EU.
Frequently asked questions
Can I attend my mastering session?
Attendees are welcome, so if you’re in the UK and within reasonable travelling distance (London and much of the Southeast, East Anglia and the Midlands) we can usually arrange for you to be at your session if required.
Where can I get my CDs manufactured?
We recommend a number of UK brokers and factories to replicate CDs or duplicate CD-Rs from your finished master, all of whom offer value for money and good customer service. Here’s a selection of links in alphabetical order: Audiotree, Demomaster, ICC Duplication, Launch Music International, MTS Multimedia.
How can I get my tracks on iTunes and the web?
If you’d prefer to to arrange digital distribution yourself rather than through an existing deal with a record label or other distributor, you’ll need a specialist gateway company called an ‘aggregator’. Our recommendation, providing access to all the main digital players such as iTunes, Spotify and Napster, is Doxmedia.
What is audio mastering?
A mastering engineer (ME) listens to mixed audio, making adjustments to the sound where necessary and preparing it for manufacture or download, ensuring that the production master is appropriately error-checked and documented – an analogy is the way an art gallery frames and lights a painting, increasing its saleability without having created it.
Why get my music mastered?
An experienced ME will help you present your music to its best advantage. The aim is usually to process the audio just enough to make an improvement where necessary but not to do harm – as veteran ME Bob Olhsson puts it, ‘Mastering is the art of balancing objective degradation against subjective enhancement.’ There are times when little or nothing sonically needs doing and others when a more radical approach is required: knowing the difference is part of an ME’s expertise.
How loud will my tracks be?
Tracks mastered here are usually loud enough to be competitive within the relevant genre but not so loud as to unduly affect audio quality. A superloud master won’t necessarily sound better, in fact it’ll probably sound worse than a more dynamic version turned up to the same level on your Hi Fi. It’s also not true that loud tracks sound better on the radio – the opposite is more likely to be the case because of the level processing broadcasters use.
When mixing, should I add overall compression and/or EQ?
That shouldn’t be a problem provided you like what it’s doing and process for sound rather than volume. Avoid using loudness maximisers across the mix, and leave final loudness to the ME. If in doubt run an unprocessed version as well, and make the final choice at the mastering stage.
Where can I find out more about audio mastering?
We’re always pleased to advise on both project-related and more general mastering topics, just email or phone. Dave Collins’ The Mastering Room and Dana White’s Mastering Dynamics are well-run internet forums with experienced member MEs, and the Mastering Audio book by Bob Katz is also a good source of information.