Dunlavy SC-IV/A Reference-Loudspeakers
2 x Emotiva Monoblock Power Amplifiers
Metric Halo Spectra Foo Complete
Bespoke Crookwood Console:
M1-7AI Stereo Mastering Console
Lavry Black AD-10
Crookwood DAC (x2)
Dangerous BAX EQ
2 x API 550m EQ (modified)
Custom FCS P3S Mastering Edition Compressor
Custom Less is More™ box
iZotope, PSP Audio, and many more plugins
Sonic Studio soundBlade
Plextor Premium CD burners
All digital file formats
Mike Spitz Modified Ampex ATR-102 1/2" tape machine
DBX DX-5 CD player
Nakamichi MR2b cassette deck
Tascam DA-20 DAT
Technics 1200 MKII turntable
John McCaig: Engineer
I believe mastering is a very important and often misunderstood step in producing an album. Often, because of the cost, independent artists and labels skimp on mastering, but I believe high quality mastering should be affordable to everybody. Mastering is all I do, and its great that I get to listen to a lot of interesting music before everyone else (which is my secret guilty pleasure.
To me, the most important tool to being a great mastering engineer is a good set of ears and experience, I try to hear and correct the slightest deviation in tone, balance, or wavelength, so that your tracks sound great everywhere. For me, a simple and accurate tool set helps me get the exact sound I want reliably and efficiently. This is why I have carefully chosen top quality gear to outfit my studio.
I was born and raised in Seattle Washington (and I love it here) -- I have been playing, making, sampling, mixing and synthesizing music for all my life. Music has been and always will be a driving force in me and my family's lives. I received my BFA from the University of Washington in Digital Signal Processing and Music Composition in 1997. Audio and CD Mastering became a fulltime and focused endeavor in 2001. In addition to a minor obsession with buying and selling gear on a regular basis, and riding my bike around town, I've had releases of my own music as effacer on Asthmatic Kitty Records, audiobulb, Kikapu, and panicRecordings, and as fell on en:peg digital, Neo Ouija, and Papergoose records.
Here's my preferred files formats:
- Sample Rate -- Whatever native sample rate you are currently working at. (I can accept sample rates up to 192k)
- Bit Rate -- 16, 20, 24 or 32bit Format -- Wave, AIFF Digital Delivery - please WinRar or Zip your files to facilitate quicker and safer transfer.
- CD-ROM -- I can accept either Data CDR (preferred) or Audio CDR.
- Analog Tape -- Please include tones at 100hz, 1k and 10k
Full Service vs Express Mastering
Full Service Mastering is appropriate for labels and bands who plan on retail distribution and expect to sell downloads and/or physical CDs. This service offers more personalized treatment of every song and extra time to ensure all tracks sound perfect.
Express Mastering is great for musicians who are happy with their mixes and want to simply ensure radio-ready sound on a tight budget.
Master CDR or DDPi
When preparing a master for release on a tangible medium (a CD), a proper master recording must be made. Now days, this is either a Master CDR or a DDPi dataset. The Master CDR or DDPi must be properly sequenced, coded, burned, and then listened to in real-time for errors. Since digital delivery does not involve a physical media, there is no need for a Master CDR or DDPi to be made.
CD-TEXT vs CDDB
CD-Text and CDDB are different from each other, and often confused. CD-Text is when track and artist names are written to the CD and displayed on compatible CD players. CD-Text does not display track names on your computer, in iTunes™ or your media playing software. The way for your music to display track titles on computer software is to submit the track data to either Gracenote CDDB or to AMG Allmusic database. Gracenote CDDB is the more commonly used database among music softwares.
Submitting your music to the CDDB and the AMG AllMusic database
Using iTunes™ to submit your music to the Gracenote CDDB: Submit Your CD to the CDDB with iTunes.
Submitting your music to the AMG Allmusic database: Submission information.
It's always fun to see your name in print, and believe it or not, I like it too. Please use the following information when referring to us on your CD liner notes.
"Album mastered by John McCaig at panicStudios in Seattle, Washington."
OR Mastering: John McCaig at panicStudios
OR Mastering: John McCaig
Note: It's John McCaig (resist the temptation to put an "r" in McCaig and don't forget the "g" at the end!)
panicStudios (note that only the "S" in Studio is capitalized.)
Please do not refer to us as Panic Mastering.
Turn Around Time
Turn around time varies depending on how many bookings I currently have. For full mastering, the time until completion is 4-7 days. For Express Mastering, it is 48 hours.
Note: Business Hours are Monday-Friday
Uploading Your Music
To upload your music, please zip all the tracks into one zip file and upload using wetransfer.com and use john @ panicstudios dot com as the send to address.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about mastering, my gear, or anything else that comes to mind.
- john mcCaig