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Preparation for the Mastering session

There are two ways to prepare for mastering. Please submit all details and variables of the project. The easiest way for that, is to use our Mastering-Price-Calculator. There you’ll find further information on how to upload your audio files. If other agreements need to be made, send an email with a link to the audio files.

Please attach a note with the following information:

– the group/artist name exactly as it should appear in the CD-Text and/or metadata (information embedded in the master CD and/or mp3 and WAV files)

– the album title or version/project name (please do not use ALL CAPITAL letters unless it is really part of the name/title)

– the order of the songs/track list ( for vinyl, please note where sides A and B are separated). Make sure that spelling and capitalization are exactly as they should appear. In addition, note if there are any mix files that may have an old or different name rather than the official name to avoid confusion.

– the publication format(s) of the project (CD, vinyl, cassette, online/digital distribution, Mastered For iTunes), etc.

Other options:

ISRC codes are optional, but you will probably need it for online sales. By sending over the code in advance, we make sure that it is correctly applied to all master formats provided by Studio-Tan’s mastering service.

If you want the album cover to be included into the mp3 version of your project, please send us an image file in.jpg or.png format. WAV files can also contain images, but very few applications can display them. However, CD masters do not support this.

Since the songs are provided by you or your mixer as data files, they are not sorted in any other order than alphabetically. Please make sure that you specify the order of the songs on the web form or on a separate note.

Noise cancellation

For all noise, counts or chatter before and after a song, please note whether any of these sounds should be kept or deleted. Feel free to comment on the transitions from one song to another and the general distances between songs. It may be useful to create and send a continuous file of the whole album. This is the best way to display transitions between songs. This reference file can also be in mp3 format to facilitate sending. This is only an indication of the chronological order of the songs. The mp3 itself is of course not used.

Caused by the increase in volume, every noise in a song can appear louder after mastering. Do you want the noise of your equipment to be cancelled or reduced during intros, outros or other sections of silent songs? So, please add a second of noise, before or after the song, without music or other noise.

Please check the final mixes very carefully. Also remove noise such as pops and clicks. Delete individual tracks that are no longer used in the mix. This prevents the overlay and accumulation of unwanted noise after mastering.

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What are the preferred audio formats?

Your final mix files must be stereo (interlaced) files, in *.wav or *.aif format.

32-bit floating point audio files are preferred. 16-bit files are OK only if the 32-bit (or 24-bit) files are absolutely not available!

***Note for mixing engineers and those who mix their own mix:

Even if your recording session was configured in 24 bits, your digital audio workstation probably processed it with 32-bit floating point audio. It is therefore important to save your mixes in 32-bit floating or 24-bit dither. Personally, I think that saving in 32 bits floating without dithering is the best option. Feel free to send me an e-mail if you have any questions. If you are not sure how deep the bit your DAW is processing the audio, you can use this free plugin to analyse your mixing session. Place it in the last insert of your master fader and use it to see if your session is larger than 24 bits.

Recording a 24-bit mix file from a digital audio station that operates in 32-bit floating point means that some bits are truncated. Saving in 32 floating point bits also allows peak values that have exceeded 0 dB per accident to be obtained.

The preferred sampling rate is the one of the original recording and/or original mix. It is not necessary to increase the sampling frequency of files after their creation. Therefore, please DO NOT modify it before sending it.

If file transfer is not possible, you can send your mixes as a data CD or DVD, hard disk or USB stick. If your master files are already available in mp3 or on an audio CD, please obtain the original files directly from your mixing engineer. Once the audio files have been burned to an audio CD or converted to mp3, there is no way to restore the quality required for mastering.

Do not convert mp3s to WAV format for mastering. Use original WAV files!

How much headroom should I keep?

For mastering preparation, the mix files should have a range of 3LU and must not already be very loud in volume. It is sometimes impossible to do anything significant for mixes that already have a high average volume level and regularly reach 0LUFS.

It is assumed that in some cases, some plug-ins on faders/bus masters can be very important for your sound. But if you only add a limiter to increase the volume, it is advisable to remove this treatment befor mastering.

The final master can be as loud as you want. But it is difficult to perform high quality mastering if the files, that are not yet mastered, already have a high volume. This limits the mastering engineer’s room for manoeuvre.

This only applies to processing on the master fader, mix file or global mix. The compression on individual tracks or instruments in the mix is certainly consistent.

As long as the level of the global mix does not reach or exceed 0LUFS, the levels should be acceptable for mastering.

The “fake mastering”

It is more and more common for mixing engineers to show their mixes to customers with a little bit of fake mastering. They compress the summing bus and increase the volume. Ideally, however, the mixing engineer removes this “fake mastering” and creates a 32-bit floating point mix-file without limiting or editing the volume of the mixing session. If you think your mixes are not the same without a specific plug-in on the master fader, send these “fake mastered” versions as a reference.

Even if it sounds simple, you can’t just turn down a mix file that’s already too loud. In most cases, significant sound compression (and its damage) has already been applied to achieve this sound intensity. It can only be removed by deactivating the limiter on the stereo bus.

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How should I deliver my stereo mixes?

On the page of our cost calculatoryou will find instructions on how to transfer unmastered files directly to a secure location. Please transfer only one.zip file containing all files. Please clearly indicate the name of the artist/project so that they can be easily identified.

To share a direct link or a folder for your mixing files, we prefer Dropbox. If you do not have an account, you can register for a free 2.5 GB account at www.dropbox.com. This should be enough to download your high-resolution mix files for a complete album. Share your folder with the following dropbox account:

ID: stevie.bangert@gmail.com

Direct links from other file-sharing sites are also accepted. But do not use services that require a login or the creation of an account to receive your files. Please also avoid websites where each file must be downloaded individually. Creating a single.zip file of all your mixes to avoid errors or problems is the best way to do this and saves everyones time.

DATA CD/DVD or flash drives can be sent via postmail to:

Studio – Tan c/o Stefan (a.k.a. Stevie) Bangert

Roucollias

24620 Peyzac – Le Moustier

Frankreich

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What happens after mastering?

Once the first mastering is completed, you will receive an email with a download link to validate the mastering. Once everything is approved and completed, the masters for the desired format(s) will be created. Most CD manufacturers accept a DDPi file as an audio master that can be easily transferred over the internet. No physical CD-Rs are required. Ask your CD manufacturer, because using a DDPi file is the easiest and most efficient method.

CDs are much more sensitive to errors and always contain a number of micro errors. All audio CDs mastered by Studio – Tan c/o Stefan Bangert are tested for C1/C2 errors. This ensures that the error rate is within specifications. When sending a DDP file for a CD production master, there is no room for these errors, which is why DDPi is better than the CD for the master.

For the preparation, testing, material and sending of the physical CD masters 40,- Euro are extra charged.

The publication

If you are publishing your project online, please check the file format you need. Most online distribution services require 16-bit/44.1k WAV files as the main source. Bandcamp and SoundCloud can accept 24-bit WAV files with a sample rate greater than 44.1kB/s. This generally gives better sounding results for the end user.

Some distributors also offer the “Mastered For iTunes” program. This means that you can download files with a higher resolution than the master source. These are then converted to AAC format. This is what the end consumer buys. Mastered For iTunes is a special program and differs from the standard versions of the iTunes Store. Mastered For iTunes usually requires a separate version.

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Pre-Master for vinyl

For the vinyl premaster, a 24-bit WAV file is created for each side of the disc. Unlike audio CDs, there are no limits to the bit depth and sampling rate of the vinyl. Thus, instead of reducing the audio quality to CD quality and then transferring it to vinyl, it is better to maintain the audio quality at 24 bits and over 44.1k. Other adjustments are made to optimize the vinyl engraving system. The reason for one file per side is that the transition between songs and their order cannot be changed accidentally. A PDF file containing information about songs and times is provided so that the transferring engineer knows where each song starts and ends.

Please find an explanatory video here :

The submission of new mixes or remixes is subject to an additional charge. The basic mastering fee includes an unlimited number of revisions until you are satisfied with the results. Payment details will be sent to you in a separate email.

PayPal is also accepted.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to send me an email.

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