Here are some answers to common questions I get:
What is Mastering?
• Mastering is the last step in the record-making process before your music is released to the world.
• Mastering is a transfer of formats -- from the format of your final mixes (analog tapes or digital files) to a format releasable as a product in the real world of fans, friends, moms, pets, and bots.
• Mastering is a human quality-control step to make sure your music sounds great on as many listening systems as possible.
• Mastering deals with the project overall -- taking a collection of individual songs and putting them together to make the whole project feel cohesive and complete.
What is your mastering aesthetic?
I aim to do the least amount of processing necessary to achieve the highest quality final results. With a plethora of available tools, it is easy to over-process and lower the quality of final mixes when transferring to final masters. Mastering should never be a downgrade in quality. I have spent years working as an engineer/producer/recordist/mixer and have the utmost respect for the hard work going into each final mix by everyone involved (the Artist, Engineer, Producer, Assistant, Intern, Manager, Strangers, Baristas, Line-Cooks, Dogs, Cats). I do my best to elevate your project to completion while being as invisible as possible. I am not interested in putting my own sonic "stamp" on your record, I will only make substantial changes to your music if you specifically ask me to do so. This is all about your art -- I want to help you present it the way you intended.
Ok, but what actually happens in Mastering?
A human (me) listens to your final mixes and performs any helpful sonic adjustments to make your music translates its best across as many listening systems as possible -- all while maintaining a sense of your musical and artistic intentions. These sonic adjustments often include: dynamic range treatment (compression/limiting), tonal balancing (EQ), sequence adjustments (fade ins/outs, cross-fades), overall loudness adjustment (which can/should be tailored to your specific release formats), and rigorous quality-control listening of your final Production Masters.
What are the different releasable formats? (also known as "Production Masters")
• Digital Distribution files: digital audio files to be submitted to a Digital Distributor. Typically I include both CD-quality standard 16bit/44.1kHz wav files and hi-res 24bit/96kHz wav files. I can provide other file types and resolutions if you need them (such as 24bit/48kHz for video).
• CD Master (DDP): "Disc Description Protocol" is the standard format that CD manufacturers use. I can send this directly to your manufacturer for you.
• Cassette: I can generate the appropriate masters for your specific cassette manufacturer. Typically they require two 16bit audio files, one for Side A and one for Side B.
• Vinyl: Releasing vinyl has many more manufacturing steps than other formats and can therefore be a bit more complicated. I love vinyl and would be happy to discuss the various options to find the best solution for your particular project and budget.
What are your rates?
To keep things simple and easy, I provide flat rates for typical project lengths. This includes all formats that I can generate for you. However, not all projects fit into these molds. Once I have all the important info about your project, I can give you an accurate quote tailored specifically for you.
• Typical LP length = $800 flat (10-12 songs or 40-50 minutes)
• Typical EP length = $500 flat (5-6 songs or 25-30 minutes)
• Individual songs = $100/each (around 5 minutes)
Once we schedule mastering and I give you the final mixes, what happens?
Once I perform an initial round of mastering I will send you Listening References (wav files) for you to check out. You can check these on all the sound systems you typically use (your headphones, your car, your friend's audiophile hi-fi stereo, your bluetooth speaker, etc). Then you can get back to me with any questions, comments or adjustments you want to make. I will make any adjustments you like until you are completely happy with the Listening Refs. Once we have approved Listening Refs, I will generate and quality-control your final Production Masters for each format you need and will send them off to the appropriate places.