Mastering Sessions
Preparation Tips For Mastering At Digital Services

Getting The Best Master For Your Project

Mastering is essentially the process of applying the proper and necessary techniques to a final mix in order to better prepare the audio for the final production. This process includes creating a (pre)Master CD for a duplication or replication plant to finish your project into a sellable form. Digital Services uses a combination of digital and analogue equipment to process your audio into an industry standard commercial format.

We accept material through the internet and mail as a convenience for those clients that can’t sit in on their session. We have noticed a trend in some of the problems that come to us in all types of sessions and in the interest of saving time for our clients and our engineers, please read the following problems and solutions. Often clients that send us files over the internet will only send a compressed version of the songs (mp3, wmv, and other streaming audio formats). These formats are not accepted by us and are very discouraged as they will not benefit nearly as well as full quality formats would from mastering. These formats lose a lot of quality and cannot store all the information that a song requires to properly reproduce the original recording. If your file is only 3-10 megabytes big or only takes a minute to send to us, it is probably the wrong file type. We recommend exporting your final mixes as broadcast wave file formats in 24 bit depths and 48 khz sample rates.

The other big problem we run into with a lot of sessions is the use of compression, hard limiting, and other mastering effects on the stereo bus in a final mix. When you are doing your final mix down, please take off all plug-ins on the stereo bus and don’t worry about the song not being as loud or as bright as another song you hear on a CD or Radio. It is our job to make your song that loud and bright, but we cannot do that if it has already been done to a certain point. Those mastering plug-ins can deteriorate the music and cause it to clip if used improperly. Certain elements of the music can also be lost if those plug-ins are used. We recommend keeping the peak levels of your mix at -3db at the most.

The mastering process is an art form like all other music elements however doesn’t take nearly as long. The first song can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the length and complexity of potential problems in the mix, then after that the session usually progresses pretty quickly. We can normally finish 2-3 songs within 1 hour!

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