Steve Kitch Mastering FAQ
About Steve Kitch Mastering…
Can I have a free demo?
Yes! Steve Kitch Mastering is happy to provide a free test master for all new clients. Just apply for our online mastering service and upload your track. Turnaround times for test masters can vary depending on current work schedules. Subject to time and availability.
When do I pay?
Once your files have been received and checked then an electronic invoice will be sent. You will also receive a provisional start date. The invoice has to be paid prior to any mastering being completed.
I want to send my tracks by post. What is the address?
Send your tracks here:
Steve Kitch Mastering
70 Argyll Road
What formats can you provide my final master in?
Once your mastering has been completed then a number of formats can be supplied:
As standard, the following are provided:
24bit Hi-res (ideal format for streaming)
Suitable for most streaming platforms and digital distributors. Now that streaming platforms are slowly transitioning to lossless playback, most digital distributers are allowing you to upload files with a higher bitrate and sample rate. I am also an approved Apple Digital Masters engineer, so if you have this option then use my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the digital distributor upload form).
Accepted by all digital distributors including CDBaby. Also, the same format required for CD.
Smaller file size suitable for email attachments, press kits etc. Not to be used for any digital distribution.
Masters can also be provided for physical formats such as CD, vinyl and cassette. For an update on the latest format requirements click here.
How long does it normally take?
Your masters are usually finished and returned to you within 5-7 working days. This can vary depending on the current workload. Once your tracks have been received and checked in, you’ll receive an email with an estimated completion date. If your job is urgent then please contact me in advance to discuss your requirements. There is a 48hr priority turnaround option if you’re in a hurry.
How can I pay?
The following methods of payment are accepted.
Debit or Credit card – UK and Overseas customers
Including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Switch and Solo.
Cheque – UK customers only
Cheques made payable to “Audiomaster Ltd.”
Bank transfer – UK customers
Use online banking to pay directly.
Account name: Audiomaster Ltd.
Sort code: 404728
Account number: 01760599
Bank transfer – International customers
Consult your bank to complete an overseas transfer:
Account name: Audiomaster Ltd.
Bank name: HSBC
BIC code: HBUKGB4165H
Sort code: 404728
Why should I trust you with my master?
Steve Kitch has over 20 years worth of experience in the music and mastering industry. His record and customer satisfaction speaks for itself. Using the best in analogue hardware and digital software.
I’m a little uncomfortable with unattended mastering…
Don’t worry. All the work completed at Steve Kitch Mastering is via the online mastering system with 1000’s of happy clients. Apart from the cheaper costs, think about the fact that you don’t have to sit through a 10-hour session listening to the same 15-second section of your track whilst the EQ is being tweaked! Steve is vastly experienced and know’s exactly what is needed to make your tracks sound great. Just make sure you provide lots of notes and examples of other material if needs be.
What if I don’t like the results?
Steve Kitch Mastering firmly believe that your music is in safe hands and that you will be delighted by the results of your mastering. Once your mastering has been completed then you will be able to listen/stream online or download the files to your computer. Any revisions (within reason) are completed until you are 100% happy. Please note that revisions that involve submitting a new mix will be charged at £10 each.
What do you do about revisions?
Steve Kitch Mastering firmly believe that your music is in safe hands and that you will be delighted by the results of your mastering. Once your mastering has been completed then you will be able to listen online or download the files to your computer. Any revisions (within reason) are completed until you are 100% happy. Please note that revisions that involve submitting a new mix will be charged at £10 each.
Are you Mastered for iTunes (Apple Digital Masters) certified?
Yes! ‘Mastered for iTunes’ has been rebranded as ‘Apple Digital Masters’. Now every audio advantage of these high-resolution masters is available across iTunes and Apple Music. Invited and certified by Apple from the very beginning…I’m on the official ‘Apple Digital Masters Providers List’.
Do you master for vinyl?
Mastering specifically for vinyl is different to what is done for CD and digital. Steve Kitch Mastering can tailor a master specifically for vinyl making use of the characteristics that vinyl will give you. A 24bit WAV file for each side can be provided for the cutting engineer.
What musical styles do you cover?
Steve Kitch has a vast range of experience in ALL styles working with clients all over the world. You can be confident any genre can be handed. Recent projects have included tracks in the style of rock, pop, r&b, jazz, classical, gospel, rap, hip hop, reggae, dancehall, bangra, dance, metal and latin.
Why don’t you offer ‘before and after’ samples?
Steve Kitch Mastering doesn’t post before and after samples for a number of reasons and you’ll find most proper mastering studios/engineers don’t either. A lot of $5 a track ‘bedroom mastering companies’ tend to do this – artificially enhancing the difference to make you think that they are amazing. It’s not always appropriate to make a dramatic change when mastering so posting examples where there is a huge contrast can lead to false expectations. Louder = better isn’t necessarily true. The brain is easily fooled.
In terms of taste and context then the mastering should appropriate for the track and client requirements. If an example was posted that happened to be ‘warm and dynamic’ but you liked ‘clean and pumping’ then that would influence your decision. Both is possible depending on what you need.
The solution is to provide new clients with a test master so you can hear the effects of the mastering on your own material. Its the only way you’ll get a grasp on everything involved and get a proper judgment. You can listen to examples of other music or read up on tons of websites, but the best thing is to hear the results on your own music.
Don’t forget you can always listen to music mastered at Steve Kitch Mastering via Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services.
How do I credit you for album artwork etc?
Credits are always appreciated! Mastering credits should be “Mastered at Steve Kitch Mastering”. Thanks in advance.
What is mastering?
What is mastering? Mastering is the process of transforming the final mixes of your music into a “master” that is acceptable for replication and playback. Some of the steps of the mastering process are straightforward eg. sequencing the songs into the right order, fades and adjusting levels so that one is not louder than another unnecessarily. However, making your recording sound like a commercial master is a whole different ballgame. Read more here.
Why do I need mastering?
The music market is very demanding and the competition is huge. If you want your tracks to compete then it is vitally important that your track can hold its own sonically as well as musically. Have you ever wondered why commercial records sound louder than yours? Or why your tracks just don’t sound like a “record”? If your tracks have been recorded and mixed at different times (or even at different studios) then you will end up with massive differences in level and tone. Mastering will create a seamless collection of your music that will sound great on streaming services, radio, TV, in shops and most importantly – in the home of the listener. Whether your music is for commercial release or you are sending demos to get a deal, then you need mastering.
In addition to the sonic differences you will hear with mastering, it is also vitally important that your master is correctly encoded and produced in the correct formats.
Do I need mixing or mastering?
Mastering is the process of taking the final stereo mix and enhancing it further making it ready for replication, downloads and for commercial use. You will need to mix the tracks to the best of your ability and provide stereo files. Treatment tends to be broad and access to individual elements of the mix is limited if not impossible. It is always best to fix things at source rather than at the mastering stage.
Mixing is blending every individual element of the track (kick, snare, bass, guitar, piano, vocals etc.) to make a cohesive final mix. Every channel can be treated differently allowing for processes such as EQ, compression, reverb, automation etc.
What is a DDP master?
The DDP format contains all the data and codes from a CD master and was specially designed for a safe and error-free transfer from mastering studio to replication plant. This is now the industry way to send CD masters online. There is no need to create a physical master and unlike a CD, there is a file and error protection process. For further information on the DDP format then please read this guide.
Will my CD text appear on a computer?
There are two ways of displaying your song and track titles. When you insert your CD into your computer then the information displayed is drawn from an online database. If nothing has been submitted then nothing will be displayed. This information is not taken from the CD itself. You will need to submit your data to CDDB (iTunes), AMG (Windows Media Player and Freedb (everything else).
CDs can store CD-Text which can only be displayed by compatible CD players.
What are ISRC codes?
The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music videorecordings. 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. If you are going to sell or broadcast your music commercially then it’s wise to add these codes to your masters. You will need to apply to your country’s ISRC provider to get these codes. Further information can be found at:
How much headroom should I leave?
The most important thing is that the overall mix buss shouldn’t exceed 0db at any point. Going over 0dB will cause digital clipping and a loss of dynamics. You should export your mix at 24bit or 32bit which will allow you to leave plenty of headroom without affecting the audio quality. Around 3-4dB should be fine.
What is Mastered for iTunes?
Mastered for iTunes albums allow artists and recording engineers to deliver music at a higher sample rate and bit resolution. Steve Kitch is certified by Apple to supply masters for the Mastered for iTunes store. You can read further information here.
What format should I use when uploading files?
When exporting your final mixes then please use the following guide…
• Remove any mastering/limiting/compression from the overall master buss
• Export making sure the master buss (overall mix) doesn’t peak beyond 0db at any point. Reduce the master fader leaving 3-4dB of headroom
• Export the mix as a mixed, stereo 24 or 32bit WAV or AIFF file.
What can I fit onto a CD master?
Here’s what you can fit on a Redbook compatible CD master:
Maximum number of tracks is 99 .
Minimum time limit for a track is 4 seconds.
Maximum time for a CD is 74 minutes. Some replicators will allow up to 80 minutes if you sign a waiver.
Maximum number of index points (subdivisions within a track) is 99 with no minimum time limit.
Average space between tracks is 2 to 4 seconds however this can be completely customised.
Should I limit or make my mixes loud before sending for mastering?
In a word no. Gaining maximum volume at the mix stage is not important and will only affect the results achievable at the mastering stage. Make sure you remove any limiting when you export your mix and don’t allow the master buss to exceed 0db at any point. Exporting at 24 or 32bit means you can leave plenty of headroom without affecting any quality.
If you have any further questions then please get in contact here.