Step 1: Preparation
Render each mix from your DAW as a single stereo 24-bit or higher .wav or AIFF file, at the sample rate you tracked at. Make sure there are no plugins (EQ, compression, limiting, tape or tube emulation, etc) on the master output bus.
Feel free to EQ and compress individual and group channels to your heart’s content, but any processing performed on the mix as a whole is, by my definition at least, mastering — and should be left to the mastering engineer!
Double-check each of the rendered files to make sure they all peak under 0 dB. If not, lower the master fader and render the offending mixes again.
If any tracks end with a long fade, note the start and end times so that I can perform the fade out after all other processing. If you do it yourself, the sound of the track will change as it passes through the mastering compressor’s threshold.
Step 2: Upload
Send me your files using the transfer service of your choice. I find it easiest to share a Dropbox folder, but WeTransfer is your best bet if you don’t already have a Dropbox account. Include one reference track from a commercial release with the tonal balance, punch, and volume you’re looking for.
I can make your release as loud as anything out there, at the cost of dynamic range. Dynamics are a necessary part of music, and without them, the ears tire quickly. The choice is up to you, but I prefer to err on the side of dynamic range. Unless you tell me otherwise, I aim for -9 LUFS.
Email me with the artist name, release title, track sequence, and any fade times.
There’s no need to schedule your project in advance. Whenever you’re ready, lay it on me!
Step 3: Payment
Payment in full is required before I begin work. If you’ve got a PayPal account, you can simply “Send Money” to [email protected]. If not, let me know and I’ll email you an invoice you can pay with a credit card, or provide the studio address for you to send a check.
My mastering rate is $199 for the first track, plus $90 per additional track.
So for example, 3 tracks is $379 and 8 tracks is $919.
Step 4: Review
I’ll go over your mixes and let you know if I hear any problems that would best be corrected on your end. Assuming everything is good to go, expect a set of mastered 16-bit .wav and mp3 files within one week. I may check in with you before that to make sure I’m on the right track.
At this point, please don’t listen to your mixes anymore. Take some time off and listen to other major label releases in the genre, so that you can audition the mastered files with fresh ears.
Step 5: Approval
Once you’ve downloaded your mastered files, compare them to the reference track you provided, and to each other. Listening back to your unmastered files is confusing and counterproductive at this stage.
Audition your masters on the best set of speakers you’ve got, and the best set of headphones. Some engineers swear by checking mixes on every playback system available, but in my experience, that shifts the focus from the music itself to the limitations of the speakers.
I’ll provide alternate mastered versions as needed until you’re completely satisfied.
Step 6: Delivery
If your release is digital-only, we’re done. We don’t have to worry about spacing between tracks, CD-Text, or ISRC codes. Simply upload the mastered 16-bit .wav files to your aggregator (CD Baby, DistroKid, etc).
For physical releases, I’ll mail you two identical CD-Rs: a reference burn and your production master. If your replicator accepts DDP images (I’m a Disc Makers studio partner – they do), I’ll mail you the reference burn and upload the DDP image for you.