Mastering Advice & Tips
Here are some useful tips to ease you through the process of mastering and to make sure that everything goes through smoothly.
Please don’t leave your mastering until the last minute! Allow as much time as possible. Once you are near to completing your mixing send a quick email to let us know when to expect your material. Steve Kitch Mastering can book your project in advance which will guarantee you a slot. That way you can deliver your mixes right up until the day your mastering is due to start. Although Steve will do his very best to turn around your mastering as quickly as possible, he often gets very busy. If you are on a tight deadline then please do tell us so that we can try to accommodate your needs. A bit of forward planning means a lot less stress and rushing if we can book you a slot in advance.
- Allow at least 1-2 seconds of silence at the beginning and end of your tracks.
- Please include information containing artist/band name, track names and order and project title.
- Any changes that you want to be made. Include comments about clicks, EQ, noise etc with track times.
- Any examples of commercial recordings that have a sound that you are after.
- Any fade-ins, fade-outs and cross-fades you want. Also, include approximate start and end points.
- Think about the gap you want between tracks. We will try and make the project flow as we think best, but if you have some definite ideas then please let us know.
You will probably be mixing on a computer-based DAW so please provide your mixes as WAV or AIFF stereo files. Steve Kitch Mastering can accept files up to 192Khz / 32bit.
If you are producing a CD for commercial release then you will probably need ISRC codes. 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 that can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint. Encoded ISRC provides the means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.
ISRC codes must be encoded at the mastering stage, so if you intend to use them then you must acquire them before the master CD or DDP file is created. ISRC codes can be added at a later date if you obtain them in the future. However, you will be charged for a new master.
To find the ISRC agency for your territory click here:
Payment is usually required in advance. Your provisional slot is not confirmed until payment has been made and masters won’t be released until payment has been made in full. So think about how you wish to make payment and be prepared to do it on time so that your masters can be sent to you on time.
Try and mix your track at the greatest resolution available to you. This is the case even if your individual instrument files are 16bit.
Please do not apply any overall processing to the final mix. Applying any form of mastering yourself seriously hinders our job and your end result. This includes processing such as normalisation, EQ, compression and limiting. We often receive mixdowns that have been squashed to death leaving us with no alternative but to send them back requesting the raw files. If you are using a limiter to stop the meters from overloading then you should re-think your mix and turn down your individual instrument channels. Remember that it is not important to get your mix “loud” at this stage. That is our job! If you are using an external studio then ask the engineer to provide the raw mixdowns with no overall processing applied. It is quite common for an engineer to apply mastering to make their mixes sound good when you leave.