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Mastering - why actually?

Mastering is the last and crucial step in the production chain before the audio material is sent to the pressing plant.
As a rule, the finished mixed stereo sum is processed, whereby it is not just a matter of "turning up the volume", but also of developing a basic sound that is suitable for the entire project. In consultation with the artist, the maximum emotion and impact is to be achieved. The aim is not only to enhance the sound, but also to ensure that the music always sounds equally good on any system in the world, be it a kitchen radio or a high-end system.


What happens during mastering?

In addition to the final sound polish, there is also the preparation of the (meta) data for the pressing plant as a digital DDP image, which must conform to the so-called RedBook CD standard.
There is no standard solution for sound editing. In some cases, a subdivision into subgroups is helpful (Stem Mastering), in other cases a division into a centre and a side signal (M/S Mastering). Dubbing onto an analogue tape machine can also be the right remedy (tape mastering). Or a combination of all.
With our mix of special mastering outboard, tape machines, the newest plug-ins as well as (and this is the most important thing!) our years of trained ears, we can get the maximum out of your music!


What is Stem Mastering?

Stem mastering involves processing individual subgroups (such as drums / bass / instruments / vocals / effects), analogue processing and summing (via our SSL Sigma summing unit and high-end converters from Merging and Metric Halo) and finally mastering. During this process, sonic influence can be taken on the different groups, also with the help of analogue outboard (e.g. more treble only on the vocal tracks etc.). If you are unsure about volume ratios, sound and compression of your tracks and the advantages of analogue summing (cleaner separation of instruments, wider and deeper sound, more punch) stem mastering would be a sensible alternative. 


What are the advantages of sonicmastering?

We always strive for absolute customer satisfaction! The perfect balance of loudness, liveliness and emotional impact is the goal. With the help of our equipment, experience, intuition, ears and ambition, we will get the maximum out of your music. But beyond all words: decide for yourself on the basis of a free test master!


What should I keep in mind for the delivery?

The required file formats should not be data-reduced, i.e. preferably AIFF or WAV files with 44.1 KHz or higher as well as 24 bits or higher. Please leave the stereo sum as unprocessed as possible, especially as far as plug-ins like limiters or compressors with stronger settings are concerned. Check that there is no digital clipping, i.e. that the level does not exceed 0 dB Fs. And please do not normalise!


How long does mastering take?

For regular mastering of a song you should allow two to three days, for a whole album about a week.
In particularly urgent cases, please let us know - we will do our best!


How does my audio material get to sonicmastering?

The easiest way is via the WeTransfer portal, which has proven to be the fastest and safest method. Click here to upload directly! Dropbox is also available on request.


How do I get my finished master back?

You will also receive a download link via WeTransfer and can then download the master as audio file(s) (WAV/AIFF) or as a DDP image for the pressing plant.


What exactly is a "DDP image"?

DDP means "Disc Description Protocol" and is the worldwide standard for the transfer of master data to a pressing plant, from which the plant can then create the so-called "glass master" (the "prototype") for CD production. No physical medium has to be recorded, the DDP image is transmitted purely digitally. On the one hand, this means greater security, as burning errors are excluded, and on the other hand, it means faster processing.


How can I listen and review a finished DDP image?

Before the pressing plant begins its work, you should definitely listen to and check the DDP image again. We make this possible for you by means of a special DDP Image Play for Mac and PC. You will receive the software from us as soon as the DDP image has been created.

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