So what is mastering? Every major label release is mastered to prepare it for radio play and retail sale. The reason? In the studio you record one song at a time, resulting in songs that all peak at different levels and have different EQs. A mastering engineer can unify your album with skillful use of EQ, gain, and compression to give it a consistent sound from track to track. This process also allows the mastering engineer to pump up the volume of your overall album so it’s as hot as can be and make it sound unbelievable.
A fresh pair of ears can be the difference between a good-sounding CD and a great one. A real advantage of audio post production is that an unbiased sound professional has the opportunity to evaluate your master and determine how to get the most out of your production. After you’ve spent weeks or even months in a recording studio listening to your CD over and over again, a fresh pair of ears of one of our mastering engineers can put the project into perspective for you, and let you know whether or not your CD will benefit from audio post production. After all, you only have one chance to make your music sound its best. The choice is up to you.
To improve your recording the mastering engineer can:
- Be an extra set of ears during the mix i.e. ‘Mix Consulting’
- Raise the overall level.
- Even out song levels and EQ individual tracks for cohesion.
- Adjust and Improve the stereo balance.
- Correct minor mix deficiencies with equalization.
- Enhance flow by changing the space between tracks.
- Eliminate noises between tracks.
- Make your music sound great on any sound system.
- Add your ISRC codes.
- Add CD-Text information (Artist, Title, and Track Names that can be displayed by some CD players).
- ITunes/Gracenote Metadata What is ITunes Metadata?
- Generate DDP What is a DDP?.
- Upload the DDP to the Manufacturer via FTP.
- the Client can check the generated DPP with a nifty little app called: DDP Player
Screaming Lizard also offers stem mastering
A small selection of albums Screaming Lizard has Mastered:
In addition to our standard standard mastering service we also offer stem mastering for clients who want our mastering engineer to have the most control during the mastering process. For the majority of projects standard stereo mastering will provide excellent results, however for artists who prefer to give our engineers the most possible control over their mix we also offer stem mastering. Mastering from stems allows us to dive in deeper to the mix and more finely adjust frequencies and levels. It also allows us more control to correct problems in the mix that might otherwise be impossible with a single stereo file.
WHAT IS STEM MASTERING
When mastering from stems you will submit multiple stereo tracks that have consolidated instruments. For example an artist might submit 4 stereo wav files ( One containing all guitars, one with lead vocals, one with drums, and one with background vocals, etc.. ). Our engineer would then work with each stem to set frequencies, adjust levels, and correct any imperfections. When he has finished the stems are combined and the final song is then mastered. Since we have access to separated groups of instruments there are more options for the engineer to make fine adjustments and correct problems.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR MIX
Preparing a mix for stem mastering involves grouping your instruments into individual stems. We accept up to 8 stems per song, and as a general rule you want to group similar instruments together. An example set of stems would be: Percussion, lead vocals, backup vocals, rhythm guitars, lead guitar, and bass. The stems you submit can be separated any way that will give our engineer the best options to work with for your project. As with all mastering projects you should leave -3db to -6db of headroom and remove any master bus processing from each stem. Stems should all be the exact same length and start and stop at the same time (this is crucial so the tracks line up when they are mixed together.)
I’ve got a confession to make: I have a compulsion about iTunes track data: I’m obsessed with making sure it’s accurate and, more importantly, consistent. This is especially true of classical music: I have a format that I like all my classical tracks to follow when it comes to name, artist, and album that I think makes it easier to find the music I want on my Mac and on my iOS devices. So I spend some time—some might say an inordinate amount of time—making sure that all of that data is the way I want it.
There are a couple of ways to do that. First and most simply is to select a bunch of tracks and hit Command-I (or select File > Get Info) and edit the metadata there. This obviously works best for fields like Album and Artist—fields that are the same for multiple tracks. You can edit that information for multiple tracks simultaneously from the Get Info window.
That approach doesn’t work as well for the Name of the track. It’s inefficient to select tracks one at a time and open Get Info for each one. Fortunately, you don’t have to: If you select a track then click on its name, that Name field becomes editable. You can type whatever you want directly in the Name field.
But that is still pretty inefficient for renaming a bunch of tracks at once. Which is why I use the Search and Replace Tag Text script from Doug’s Applescripts—an awesome collection of scripts for use with iTunes. As the name implies, this script can search and replace all kinds of metadata, but I find it handiest for editing track names.
Once you download it, you put it in your /Library/iTunes/Scripts folder. That done, it appears in the iTunes scripts menu. What you do is select a bunch of tracks at once, then open that scripts menu and select the Search and Replace Tag Text script. You tell it what you want to look for—I select and copy the text from one of the tracks I want to change and paste that into the search field—then tell it what you want to replace that text with. It runs through the selected tracks, searching for and replacing the text you’ve supplied, and the changes are made, just like that.
That’s just one of the handy scripts available from the Doug’s Applescripts site. There’s even one that lets you use regular expressions to search and replace metadata, if you want to get really geeky about it. The point is, there are multiple ways to edit and manage track metadata in iTunes and, if you want to keep your library well organized, you’d be well served to learn them.
Play back and check DDP images:
Most people will not be able to do a lot with a DDP image. For burning such an image to CD or even for listening to it you will need a very specialized software that might be too expensive for that purpose. HOFA DDP Player is a simple and quite inexpensive alternative.
Features V1.0.14 (changelog):
- Playback of any DDP-Images (DDP 2.00) for CD-A
- Burn DDP Images to CD
- Export tracks as .wav audio files
- Support of ISRC in .wav files
- Display of CD-Text, UPC/EAN and ISRC
- Support of Japanese CD-Text
- Peak & EBU Loudness Meter
- Validation of MD5 Checksums
- simple handling, clear representation
- support for PC and Mac, 32 and 64 Bit
- English & German version available
- The software can be activated and used on two machines at the same time with the HOFA-Plugins Manager. It is possible to deactivate licenses and transfer them to another machine. Also, HOFA plugins can be activated and used offline. A description of the activation and deactivation process is available here.
- The same flash drive can be used for our and other plugin developers’ USB-licenses.
- Be fair – BUY THE SOFTWARE YOU’RE USING!
- HOFA software runs with Windows 7/8/10, Vista and XP, as well as Intel-Mac from OS X 10.5.
- Supports DDP 2.00 images for CD-A
- To use the CD burning feature with Windows XP / Vista a Microsoft update may be necessary.
DDP a registered trademark of DCA Inc.
Info: Click here to download the Manual.
Download & test: HOFA DDP Player can be tested for 14 days. During the test period, the right stereo channel will be muted. Click here to download the HOFA-Plugins Manager.
Purchase: The DDP Player is available here: | GO BUNDLE! >>
HOFA DDP Player only 11,90 €
What is a DDP?
What is a DDP Image & do I need one?
DDP: Disc Description Protocol, also referred to as DDPi (DDP Image) or DDP File Set. An error-protected delivery format that has become industry standard for reliable CD & DVD replication.
Advantages of DDP include:
Integrity Of The Recordings. DDP files are not subject to manipulation and end up exactly as the artist intended. An audio CDR, for example, can influence the sound of a recording when used as a master due to errors and other effects of different dyes used in the disc itself.
Delivery Speed. DDP can be transferred using any medium including over the internet which speeds up the production process. Many organisations now only accept DDP, as they are faster and more reliable to work with.
Replication Errors. Using a DDP Image with MD5 Checksum will ensure accurate replication unlike an audio CDR.
Unlike audio CDs, DDPs can be checked to ensure that the data is 100% accurate. For this we insert a code known as an ‘MD5 Checksum’. The MD5 is created at source and is based on an analysis of the DDP Image data. When the code or is opened by the end user the data is analysed once again and a comparison is made to the existing code. Any difference whatsoever will result in a rejected DDP master. Audio CDRs do not provide this level of assurance from errors. Many CD players will also execute error-correction on playback of your audio CDR and may mask any issues with your disc. These errors may therefore not be identifiable until you hear them on your final disc run!
A DDP Image is recommended for all customers who are replicating CDs of their project.