CD sales might be on the decline but we still have plenty of clients needing masters ready for CD duplication. Steve Kitch Mastering can provide a CD master with correctly sequenced tracks plus encoded data such as CD-Text and ISRC codes. The format of choice is a DDP which stands for Disc Description Protocol.
How we used to do it…
For many years the standard way to provide a master ready for replication was to create a ‘redbook’ CD master. This was a high quality CDR created in a CD burner. It worked but there were several disadvantages. The physical medium had to be manually error checked several times through the process from initial creation to final replication. Unfortunately all CDRs contain errors and can sometimes be rejected from the duplication company. They discs are vulnerable to damage and can easily be broken. Plus it takes time and extra expense to send them in the post. Rubbish!
How we do it now…
The standard, preferred method of sending a CD master is to provide a ‘DDPi image’ (Disc Description Protocol image). Invented by Doug Carson and DCA. This format is designed to carry the content of optical discs which include CD. The DDP is a set of files and must contain five parts.
Audio image (.DAT file)
DDP Identifier (DDPID)
DDP Stream descriptor (DDPMS)
Subcode descriptor (PQDESCR)
A text file is also included which contains album information, track titles, timings and ISRC codes.
These files can be stored on a hard drive or sent over the internet. Its a very robust format which has an in-built error checking system (MD5 checksum). This guarantees that the masters we deliver haven’t been tampered with and will be exactly the same as what ends up on the replicated CD. Sending individual WAV masters to a CD duplication company can often involve extra cost, set-up time and potential layout issues. The total file size will be no bigger than around 750mb and can easily be sent via a file transfer service. So no shipping costs or delays waiting around for the post.
What do I do with this file?
We provide a download link to download the collection of DDP files which is stored in a ZIP. This is the file that can be uploaded to your duplicator. If they allow it, then you could also provide them with the link. The only downside of the DDP format is that it can’t be played in a normal CD player. However, we provide a free PC/Mac software player which will load up the DDP file so you can play back your CD on your computer. You can also check the audio content, gaps between songs plus the optional encoded metadata such as CD-Text and ISRC codes. Our player also allows you to burn your own CD copy and extract WAV files. Clever.
What information can be stored on a CD DDP file?
- Audio content (at 16bit 44.1kHz quality)
- Track order and gaps
- Album title
- Track titles
- Artist, Songwriter, Composer and Arranger
- ISRC codes
- UPC Code
Who can accept the DDP format?
All CD replication companies should accept the DDP format however I would suggest checking before you make any kind of commitment. If they are unable to accept this format then I would certainly recommend you switch companies. This is a strong indication that they aren’t up to date or reputable.
If you require any further information about the DDP format or have any other questions about the mastering process then please don’t hesitate to get in contact.