the mastering process explained
preparing your files
Please leave some room around your tracks to work, and disable any "brick-wall" limiters that are there only for the sake of “loudness”, and make sure to leave as much dynamic room where applicable. When in doubt, send both versions. Here's our 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
the mastering session
The actual mastering session takes about 4-10 hours depending on the length and complexity of your album (and sometimes longer if much work needs to be done). During the session, I will process and sequence your tracks for approval. Once you are satisfied with the results, I will create a reference CDR for your final approval. Once you approve the actual burned CDR, the final Master CDR will be created and assured for quality and accuracy. The process is slightly different, depending on whether you are attending the session or not.
Because of how I schedule my work, the only thing I offer attended is the sequencing the album. After I master the album and give you a reference to approve, you can come in and we can line up and sequence the album from song to song, and burn one final reference disc.
Once you are 100% happy with the sound, the spacing, etc. i burn the final master CDR (or DDP) for you.
** Parking can be a pain in this busy part of town, especially during game days (much of the year).
Please plan ahead.
** The studio is on the fourth floor, and you must be buzzed up. Please press the buzzer for suite 409, and i can buzz you in.
A high quality version of the entire CD will be uploaded to the web for your approval. After you're satisfied
with the mastering, my quality control technician will burn your CDs, check them for accuracy, and mail them to
you (or upload the files to the Web). RAR or zip file compression is used for uploads. You can decompress RAR files
by using one of these free utilities:
Mac OSX: UnRarX
Stem mastering is a process where the individual audio tracks are grouped into stems. Each stem represents a
submix of track elements. For example:
1. First stem is the drum submix
2. Second stem is the bass instruments (bass synths, bass guitars, etc)
3. Third stem is remaining "main" instruments.
4. Fourth stem is the vocal track.
If you have any questions about stem mastering, please contact me.
I'm not happy, until you're happy! Corrections and revisions are often free, but, please note that it is important to be sure all corrections and changes are made before I burn your final CDs. Revisions that are billable are taken on a case by case basis. For example, if you bring a new version of a track I previously mastered that you have re-tracked, remixed, and, in short, changed extensively, i will charge my regular rate on the new material. Also, I do charge for additional references and Master CDs for any revisions/modifications made after CDRs have been burned.
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.
GIVING US CREDIT
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
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.