Mastering for Digital Formats - CD Advice

When sending physical masters to us like Hard Disks, DVDs, CDR or Analogue Reels of Tape(s), it's crucial that everything is labelled correctly and clearly.

 

Please ensure you also send us label copy, detailing correct track titles and appropriate running orders for the designated format along with Catalogue Numbers and UPC/EAN codes if they are required.

 

If you need ISRC Codes embedding on digital masters, please ensure we have all the correct information at the time of booking the session. Once ISRC codes are embedded on a Master for production it's not possible to change them without generating a new Master for production.

 

ISRC Codes (International Standard Recording Code) are numerical data, unique and individual to a particular recording and/or track. They are a permanent identifier and used to electronically assist royalty collection and will track radio and TV play-outs. In many territories the use of ISRC codes is increasingly becoming a tool in the fight against piracy. ISRC Code numbers are generated by a record company or an organisation releasing music and the numbers are attached to each track like a digital fingerprint. You need to register yourself for ISRC codes and all the information you require can be found by following these links.

 

isrc.ifpi.org/en/ UK and Overseas Clients

ppluk.com/ UK Clients

usisrc.org/ US Clients

aria.com.au Australian Clients

 

There is also a PDF file available for download from our FAQ Page. We do not make a charge to add ISRC codes to your CD Master.

 

We also offer the addition of CD TEXT data to be included in your factory-ready master for production. It must be stressed that you double check the spelling of everything you submit to us for CD TEXT and that all track title, including any punctation are correct, as mistakes cannot be rectified once a master has left Mike Marsh Mastering for production.

 

If you have any specific mastering instructions, particularly about the sound you're looking for, it's often a good idea to indicate CDs or audio you like the sound of and that you feel are a useful as a reference comparison. If necessary, also send audio clips to make this comparison easier. If sending audio clips, please send 44.1 kHz/16Bit .wav files and not compressed MP3 files.

 

With regard to compiling an album or a set of tracks, please indicate if you would like us to compile them for you or whether you will be compiling yourself. Please give any specific compiling instructions and indicate whether specific fades need attending to on individual tracks. Alternatively, let us know if you're happy for us to compile your music as our engineer feels best Ė itís usually second nature to them, so youíll be in safe hands!

 

Digital File Delivery Formats

We accept .wav and .aiff files of up to 96 kHz sampling rate with a bit depth of up to 32 Bits. Please ensure your files do not exceed this sampling rate and bit depth.

 

If you are sending digital data files make sure the track(s) and / or variation(s) of each mix are clearly identified with proper, sensible filenames. It's very frustrating when files arrive labelled with random numbers and letters which don't relate to any information we've been given about the tracks we're mastering in the session.

 

Bad labelling and file administration always results in much confusion and it's not an ideal way to commence a mastering session.

 

If you're sending a number of tracks, particularly if they're on a Hard Disk deep in the file-system of the disk please make a new Final Mixes for Mike Marsh Mastering folder and place all the relevant and correctly labelled mixes in this folder.

 

It's common to be asked to carry out mastering to mix variation passes. For example, Vocal Up Mixes / Instrumental Mixes / TV Mixes / PA Mixes. When supplying these extra and alternative mixes please ensure they've been clearly labelled so they're easy to identify.

 

If you're making mix variations and passes, make sure that they are at the same level as the 'Main Mix' that's been supplied for mastering. If they are not equal to the same process of the main mix, each extra pass will be counted as a new track.

 

Make sure that all files have a few seconds of silence at the start and end of each track and ensure that no audio has been clipped. This ensures neat topping and tailing of tracks is possible when putting together the final master.

 

We can work from either stereo interleaved files (which we prefer you to send) or split mono L and R files. It's possible to work from stems but we do not encourage this as the mastering session also becomes a mixing session and will usually incur extra cost.

 

We also accept CD / DVD Data Discs, Audio CDR, DATs and 1630 Umatic Video Tapes. Again, please ensure these formats are clearly labelled and that the files or tracks contained upon them are also clearly labelled.

 

Analogue Delivery Formats

We accept half-inch and quarter-inch analogue tape and can accommodate Dolby A and Dolby SR formats too.

 

Please ensure tape boxes are clearly labelled with the track titles and that each reel, or at least the lead reel from the session, contains proper alignment tones at the head of the reel.

 

Alignment tones of 1 kHz, 10 kHz and 100 Hz are requested as a minimum requirement, with at least 30 seconds of each tone recorded on your reel.

 

We also need to know the tape speed (7.5 / 15 or 30 ips), the recorded reference level of the material (nWb) and the equalization standard of the tape (CCIR / NAB / AES).

 

It's also a good idea to name or number your reels, especially in the instance of a large number of reels being involved.

 

It's common to be asked to carry out mastering to mix variation passes. For example, Vocal Up Mixes / Instrumental Mixes / TV Mixes / PA Mixes. When supplying these extra and alternative mixes please ensure they have been clearly labelled so they are easy to identify.

 

If you're making mix variations and passes, make sure that they're at the same level as the 'Main Mix' that's been supplied for mastering. If they're not equal to the same process of the main mix each extra pass will be counted as a new track.

 

Recording to analogue tape is far less common than it used to be. Consequently, many of the analogue tape machines still in use today are poorly maintained. Mike Marsh Mastering recommends you also send digital backups of your mixes in case of any problems encountered with masters on analogue tape.

 

Poorly maintained analogue tape machines can sometimes influence the frequency response resulting in a lower fidelity recording. They can also be running at the wrong speed which is un-noticed whilst recording and playing back on the same machine but becomes apparent once set up on a different playback tape machine that is running correctly!