Stem Mastering (maximum of 6 stems)
Stem mastering is different from 2 track stereo mastering. Stem Mastering provides the engineer with more options when working on a song. In cases where there are substantial problems with the mix it can be beneficial to the engineer to have access to separate groups of instruments. During the stem mastering process each group of instruments are level balanced, and imperfections are removed. This means that stem mastering uses a number of grouped instruments such as drums, bass, sub bass, lead synth 1, lead synth 2, effects sweeps etc. This allows us to enhance and optimize any specific set of instruments within a mix down. It also affords enhancement based on the summing of the stems. Additionally, standard stereo mastering processes are included. Stem mastering can produce improved sonic results by increased depth and dimension to the master.
Standard stereo mastering is one of the most important and often overlooked steps in audio engineering. It’s the final stage before an album or single is released to the public. This is where each song is level-balanced, frequencies receive finishing touches, small imperfections are removed, and any other problems with the mix are ironed out. Mastering is what takes a recorded and mixed song to a professional level for CD and radio play. We work closely with each artist to make sure they get the sound they want.
Our online Standard Mastering is a quick service for the fast needs of getting that professional feeling on your track. If your pre-mix is already good to go but you are missing that special x-factor we can add it for you! The Standard Mastering offers a single stereo band track to be mastered on a professional basis.
We always try to put a personal approach upfront. We know that a lot of other studios use special systems where you can upload your songs , communicate with the staff, and manage every aspect of your project. In our opinion this doesn’t work out that well at all. By using “old” communication methods. Via phone or e-mail we can communicate a lot faster and adjust your products easier bringing it to the next level. It’s also possible to request revisions, add-on services, and express mastering services at any time through these channels. Your final masters and any previews will be available for download as soon as they are done and e-mailed back .
Prepare your mix
If you spend a bit of time preparing your pre-master correctly, you’ll be giving us the best possible mix to work with, which in turn ensures you get the best results from mastering your music. We’ve tried to cover everything but if you have any questions which aren’t answered below, please send us an email using our contact page.
Can I add any processing to my master bus?
No, please remove all processing from your master channel. Adding processors to the master channel can make it difficult for us to make a great master. EQ, compression and limiting can all affect the dynamics, which is taken care of by us at the mastering stage.
How loud should my pre-master be?
During the main section of your song, the peak level should be about -6 dB. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Giving us enough headroom to work with will give you a better master. We will use EQ and compression alongside other tools which boost the peak level of your song.For example, if you send us a song that’s peaking at 0 dB, our processing will cause the audio to peak above 0 dB and distort. If you’re unsure of your levels, use a peak meter to measure the output on your master channel. Please note: the master fader must remain at 0 dB at all times, with the audio peaking through it at -6 dB.
If you’re unsure of how to measure the output levels in your DAW, there’s many great level meters that you can download for free. We favour the Sonalksis Free G; An excellent free metering vst plugin you can download from the Sonalksis website here. Put the Free G on your master channel and check the peak reading whilst playing the loudest section of your song.
The following screenshot shows two waveforms; the first is too loud and is peaking at 0db, the second is peaking at -6 dB, the correct level for mastering:
If you’re unsure whether your song is the correct level, export it, then import the bounced audio file back into your DAW and compare the waveform next to a mastered song. It should look similar to the waveforms above.
If my song is not peaking at -6 dB, how do I change it?
Do not just lower the master fader; leave the master fader at 0db and lower (or raise) every single channel together in your mix until the overall level is peaking around -6 dB on the loudest section of your song. Although we do ask for -6 dB headroom, we will accept anything between -3 dB and -6 dB.
What file format should I send?
Please submit your files as 44.100 hz, 24bit WAV files (16bit is also acceptable). We do not accept MP3s.
Can I submit reference songs and notes?
Yes. We know what commercial levels are and will match your musical genre to these levels. However within each genre there are often differences in EQ and compression. Likewise many artists want a specific sound on their master. For this reason, it’s very helpful to also send a mastered song that has a sound you want. Also, adding any relevant notes can help reduce revisions.
Do I need to record my pre-master with dithering?
No. Dithering is the very last stage of mastering and will be added by us. We will choose the correct dithering settings for each song. If you’ve added dithering, or other plug-ins designed to “enhance” the sound, please remove them. Please also make sure that ‘normalisation’ is off when exporting.
Can I make changes to my song once I’ve received my master?
Yes. Sometimes, mastering can highlight elements in your mixdown that were previously missed. Therefore, once you have received your mastered song, we allow up to 2 revisions with no extra cost. Any more than 2 revisions will incur a (small) fee.