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Here is a list of things for you to check before you send out your songs for mastering:
-> If your final product is an audio CD, most mastering engineers prefer to receive 44.1 kHz (24bit) data files on CD-ROM (wav, aiff). This gives us best source material to work with. -> Include all ISRC codes along with your songs, we need these before we burn final master disc. -> DO NOT add any processing to your main mix bus (ie: compression etc). Keep it natural and clean. -> Do not clip your files, keep your peaks somewhere around -6dB and you'll be safe. It's nearly impossible to remove distortion. -> Leave space before and after your music (ie: 2-3 sec at head and tail of each song) -> If you have one, include UPC number of disc. -> Make sure ALL your song names are in full. No abbreviations please! We need full names to add as CD-TEXT (which some CD players use to show your band name and song name). -> Include your CD album title. -> Give us a track list of order you would like your songs to appear on final CD. -> Include your FULL contact information (Band Name, Album Name, Contact Person, address, tel, fax, web, email etc). We use this information to print onto your duplication master disc. -> Send along a few of your favorite songs as reference. Rip a couple of songs from your favorite CD and add these in with your original files. This can do wonders in helping mastering engineer understand 'sound' you are striving for. It's always easier to 'hear' an example than it is for you to explain it!
The absolute bottom-line in mastering is COMMUNICATION. Speak up if you have a concern. It's important that you get what you are paying for, and at Digital Sound Magic, we don't mind taking a little longer for a better product.
©2005 Richard Dolmat (Digital Sound Magic)
About The Author Richard Dolmat is owner, engineer and producer for the Vancouver based recording and mastering studio Digital Sound Magic. Visit his site at: http://www.digitalsoundmagic.com