Once your recording project is mixed, you’ve left the studio with a CDR or perhaps a DAT or Minidisc of the tracks, and it will often be desirable to spend a little time checking it in different environments to see how it sounds in the ‘real world’. You are nearly at the stage where it will be committed forever in it’s final state – is it really ‘finished’ enough?
This is where the concept of ‘mastering’ comes in, and there are several misunderstandings about what that word actually means. You may hear people talking about ‘mixing’ and ‘mastering’ as if they were the same thing – they aren’t! Put simply, mastering is the partly artistic, and partly technical process of transferring, editing and compiling your original recordings to create a polished and professional CD master, in a format that is fully ready for manufacture.
The technical (and let’s face it, mostly boring) bit of the process requires us to check such things as sample rates, ISRC codes, analogue to digital conversion, and accuracy of PQ encoding etc. But the artistic side of good mastering can bring a variety of improvements and enhancements to the sound, which are frequently surprising, and sometimes even revelatory!
Firstly, it’s vital to check comparative levels from track to track, to ensure a consistent listening experience from start to finish. This will often involve simple level changes – sometimes it may require EQ adjustments from one piece to another. Overall compression techniques will also usually play a part to obtain maximum overall volume and impact. Three band dynamic processing can provide an amazing lift in level and punch, without adversely affecting the original character…
On top of this, there are other issues such as running orders, gaps between tracks, fades (or cross-fades where appropriate), ‘topping and tailing’ at the starts and ends to clean them up, eleventh hour edit ideas, and maybe even the last minute inclusion or exclusion of a track which, for whatever reason suddenly does or doesn’t fit!
All these issues and more are the domain of the mastering session, and it is a grave mistake to go to manufacture without addressing them properly… The mastering engineer will consider all these factors with a view to helping you end up with a more exciting and consistent CD. Not only that, but he will give you a neutral ‘third party’ insight into your material which you may not have had when you were recording it.
At CDReprouk we can implement all these things for you in our mastering studio which is equipped with powerful tri-amped 3 way monitors, which ‘take no prisoners’ when it comes to scrutinising your source material. We also use the industry standard SADiE Artemis digital mastering workstation, Daniel Weiss sample rate conversion, and TC Electronic and Focusrite multi band processers to prepare your master.
Our professional mastering services can cost as little as around £110 depending on the nature of your project, and if we are handling the duplication job for you, a full length album will be in the region of £180.
If your project has already been mastered elsewhere, we are delighted to proceed with the existing material and manufacture your CDs. If not, please talk to us first before you end up with some permanent regrets!
To enquire about our CD mastering services please e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01344 870291.