FAQ

Frequently asked questions

Mastering FAQ

How should I prepare my mixes for mastering?


Please remove any limiting you have on the mix, and make sure your peaks aren't hitting (or exceeding) 0 dBFS. There's a widespread misconception that mastering engineers require 3-6 dB of headroom, but this is simply not true. As long as it's not clipping, everything is fine! Another misconception is that you shouldn't use any mix buss processing at all. Also false. Nothing wrong with compression and EQ. We do however advise against heavy handed compression and/or limiting for the sake of loudness, as well as the use of stereo widening tools on the mix buss. If you have any doubts about what you've done, please send us a version with and without. Be sure that when you bounce/export you're not doing any normalization, and that you send us your stereo files (interleaved and multiple mono are both fine) at the same bit depth and sample rate that you've been working at. WAV and AIFF files are fine, but please no AAC or MP3's. Before you send your files, make sure that there is silence both before and after the track. Remove any fades that you have done, and provide us with a timestamp of when you would like it to start and end. If you are using any Waves plugins, we highly recommend that the "Analog" or "Mains" setting is off. All this does is add unnecessary noise. If there is other undesirable background noise present anywhere in the recording, it's helpful for us to have a few seconds of just the noise from the track(s) that it is present on. This allows us to take a sonic fingerprint of the noise, and remove, or at least reduce it. However you choose to send your files, we would advise that you zip/compress them instead of uploading them all individually.




How do I send you my files?


Click here to send us your files via our WeTransfer page. If you already have your mixes in Dropbox etc., you can email a download link to info@railtownmastering.com.




What are ISRC codes, and how do I get them?


The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording which is assigned as its digital fingerprint. ISRCs provide the means to track and identify recordings and are used widely by digital services and retailers. CONNECT Music Licensing acts as the Canadian administrator for ISRC codes on behalf of Music Canada. Please fill out the ISRC REGISTRANT CODE APPLICATION. Once they receive your application you will be e-mailed your ISRC Registrant Code.




What is a DDP?


Disc Description Protocol (DDP) is a format for specifying the content of optical discs, including CDs and DVDs, that is commonly used for delivery of disc premasters to manufacturing. Along with audio, a DDP image includes track metadata (song name, artist etc.), the spacing between tracks, and an MD5 checksum which ensures there are no errors between what was originally sent, and what is going to be made in to your CD. When we send you your masters for approval, you will recieve a DDP image, as well as a DDP player so you can listen to the masters, audition the transitions between songs, and confirm that all your track info is correct.




Can I attend the session?


Of course you can! Instant feedback is helpful, and it's a great opportunity for us to get to know you better. It also gives us a chance to share a little bit about the mastering process, and why we do things the way we do. On top of that, playback on our system is likely the best you will ever hear your album. It can be a surprisingly powerful way to wrap up a project.




What is Apple Digital Masters (Mastered for iTunes)?  Are you an Apple certified facility?


Please note Apple has recently re-branded MFiT as Apple Digital Masters. Yes, we are an Apple Digital Masters certified facility. Apple Digital Masters is a set of processes, quality checks, and delivery specs made by Apple, specifically for distribution on iTunes. It allows you submit higher resolution wav files than normal, and ensures that your music will sound the best that it possibly can on iTunes. If you are using a digital distributor that supports MFiT, you'll typically need to do a separate upload for these files. If this is part of your deliverables, we'll include a PDF "how to" with your masters.




What do I receive when the masters are complete?


It depends on how you'll be releasing your music. Click here for our "read me" that comes with your masters explaing what the different formats are, and how to use them.




How do I get my music on Shazam?


Most digital distribution services take care of this for you. It's no longer possible to submit your music manually.




Do you charge for revisions?


Revisions and changes are included in the cost of mastering. It's very rare to go past 2 or 3 rounds, but we won't stop until you've got exactly what you want.




Do you offer a free test master?


Sort of. We offer a risk free trial of one song for new clients. If for some reason you're not completely happy with your master, we won't send you a bill. If you love it (we're pretty sure you will), and you are going to use and release the master we did, then all's well in the world, and we'll send you an invoice!





General

Do you work evenings or weekends?


We're typically here 8am-6pm Monday-Friday, but if there's a deadline to meet, or you can only attend the session in the evening, or on a weekend, we'll make it happen.




What forms of payment do you accept?


Cash, cheque (local only), Interac eTransfer, PayPal and credit. You'll receive payment options and instructions when we send you your invoice.




Is there parking?


We do have underground parking available, but it's a hot commodity before 3pm. Let us know, and we'll do our best to get you a spot. There's also parking on Alexander, and Powell Street. Powell is $1/hr, and Alexander is $2.




Will there be food available during attended sessions?


There are light refreshments available, and we are of course happy to arrange for meals to be brought in. Just let us know!





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