The following information is an overview of how and what to supply for a standard mastering session or a stem mastering session and will answer most of your questions.
However we are only a phone call away if you have a question not covered here or have a curly one that is baffling you.
Digital Audio Files
We accept hi resolution audio files with sample rates from 44.1k up to 192k, in 16bit, 24bit and 32bit.
All audio file formats are welcome.
When supplying your audio files for mastering here’s a short checklist of the important things to include or consider.
- Are your files named correctly and clearly?
- Have you included the track order?
(The track order can always be changed later but it can often be beneficial for the mastering engineer to know how the tracks may “flow” together when working on them.)
- Have you error checked the exported files you are about to send?
Computer errors can and do occur unfortunately, particularly in high track count mixing sessions with a lot of active plugins. Playback may sound ok but it’s best practice to check the exported file/s for any glitches that may have crept in as these will be detected during mastering and a delay may then be encountered while replacement files are supplied.
When your files are checked and ready to send you may wish to upload them in which case we prefer you zip them together into one file rather than uploading each file individually. Most clients have their own preferred file sharing service, some of the most widely used being – Wetransfer, Dropbox, Hightail. Of course you can always use our dropbox, just let us know.
If you prefer sending a hard drive or thumb drive, CD, DVD or any other portable storage please include ONLY the files for mastering as this will avoid any confusion and save time. Your storage will be returned to you at the conclusion of the project.
We realise sometimes all the tech talk can be confusing so we welcome your questions. Please feel free to call us and discuss any aspect of preparing your files for mastering or any other mastering related issue.
Do we accept MP3 files?
Occasionally clients ask if we accept audio in MP3 format or other similar low resolution/compressed file formats.
The answer to this is yes but only if there is no higher resolution files available for the obvious reason that we would like to ensure we are working with the best possible available source files at all times. And NO there is no point converting an MP3 to a WAV file or any higher resolution file type as there is nothing to gain in terms of end quality!
We offer stem mastering as an option and would encourage you to enquire as to how or if this approach may be suited to your music mixes or next project.
If the term “stem mastering” is not familiar to you please read on.
Music producers often like to leave some options open for the mastering engineer to adjust during the mastering session and accordingly will request a stem mastering session.
Unlike a standard mastering session where a simple stereo mix is provided as the source, in a stem mastering session the mix will be supplied in sub-grouped stems. For example, a simple stem mastering session would contain a backing mix of the track (without the vocals) and a vocal mix (without the backing). This allows the mastering engineer to fine tune the vocal level during mastering to find the optimal level or adjust the eq of the backing mix without affecting the vocals.
A more expanded stem session would contain a stereo stem of all the drums, another stereo stem of the bass components, another of the synths and another for the vocals for example. This would allow for more fine tuning of the grouped elements of the mix during mastering. We generally do not encourage a mix be broken down into each and every instrument as stem mastering is not remixing but rather an opportunity to gain some extra flexibility and tweaking options of the various sub-groups, with the ultimate goal of achieving a better sounding master than if only the full mix was supplied.
On occasion the mastering engineer may enquire if stems are available ahead of commencing a session. This would perhaps be due to something that has been observed in the preview of the mix and to ensure that the best possible master is achieved. In this case we would discuss the benefits and reasons in detail with you as they pertained to your project.
We accept an array of Analogue Tape formats and encourage you to call us to discuss this in detail.