Frequently Asked Questions…

Quick a question to gain a better understanding of your query. If you have any more questions, feel free to contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

You’ve been in the studio concentrating on each track, probably one at a time, with the same solid focus to each one. Each song is composed and performed to the same high standards that you expect from you and your production team. When it comes to putting out your individual tracks, or putting a collection of them on to CD or on a playlist, it is important that they all ‘flow’.
Just take any seminal album that you know and love and consider ‘perfect’ in every way. That album, whether or not you’re thinking as a musician, engineer, producer or manager, will simply flow. Flow from one track to the other building your anticipation to the next track and satisfying you, the listener. Reading the sleeve notes, that album might have been recorded by several production teams in differing studios across the world on different equipment and at different stages of an artist’s career. Nevertheless, the music still ‘flows’ doesn’t it?

That so-called ‘flow’ is down to the mastering engineer making sound judgements on each of the tracks to ensure that the album does indeed flow. Each track and album needs individual attention to detail to perhaps make the changes necessary. These might be making things the right level (more on this later), matching the equalisation between tracks, making the tracks sit together side-by-side by adjusting the gaps between tracks (or taking them out all together if required), repairing sonic deficiencies such as hiss, rumble, wow and flutter where possible, adding the PQ, ISRC, UPC/EAN codes and preparatory information for the master and simply making your music sound as good as is possible.

Mastering can take between one to two hours per track and an album can be completed in a full day’s work. However, we like to take a little longer over things and give you time to listen to the mastered material on your own equipment in your own time (payment required) and we’ll leep working on it until its ready. How quickly we can turn around your album will depend solely on studio and engineer availability and how many changes you might want. We’ll be able to discuss a definitive date for completion when we take the booking.
Dynamic range is an important part of music, and compositions come with their loud bits and also their quiet bits. As the decades have gone on, this dynamic range has been getting more and more squashed. This is not necessarily for any technical deficiency, but because sonic tastes require it. Each record that is put out is expected to be loud. However it is not as simple as making things ‘one louder’ (Nigel Tuffnell in Spinal Tap, 1980) as we now live in a digital world where the loudest we all can go is 0dB. There are two schools of thought here. We, as mastering engineers, understand that there is a legitimate need to ensure that our client’s music is as loud as it needs to be as it improves radio play potential and also in some forms of music, it must stand side by side with the competition. However, there is the other side of the argument that says, if it is that loud, then the life and soul of the music is altered and can be considered an alteration or distortion of the original.

We are sympathetic to both sides of the loudness coin and as such request that your music comes to us with as much dynamic range as you can allow. We understand the mixes need to be representative, but would prefer that no mastering compression be applied at the mix stage.

Why do we ask this? Some mixes come to us with compression on already. In some cases these are very good, but at other times this can cause more problems for us as we may need to unpick this compression to get the results you want over the whole album. We would prefer for a mix to come to us uncompressed, but the mix sounding excellent. We can then compress and limit your music using our mastering grade techniques to obtain the best results. Alternatively, please provide us with both the compressed version and a version without.

We’d love the music to come in a digital format that can be uploaded to our FTP server for us to work to. However, should you have something a little different, please contact us to discuss how to get the music safely to us. If uploading the material to our server, please ensure that it is in one of the following formats and not mp3 or mp4a etc. Ideally the audio should be either a Sound Designer II file, .aiff or .wav. If you have some variation on these, please contact us.

There are many ways you can give us your material. You could simply give us a stereo file of the mix and we can set to work. However, there are some other alternatives such as Stem mixing. There are many ways in which this can be broken down. Essentially stem mixing means that you provide the mastering engineer with the mix, including the mixing engineer’s EQ, compression and reverb, in stereo pairs. So the stems might be as follows:
– Drums
– Bass
– Guitars
– Keys
– Backing Vocals
– Vocal

However the best ideal stem system for us should appear like this: – Your Mix – Main Vocal (no backing vocals) – No Main Vocals (with backing vocals) – No Vocals at all (Instrumental) For more details and to discuss this please contact us.

ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code and is a way by which each released song is given a unique identifier. This unique identifier is a string of numbers embedded into your CD. The idea is that as songs are played on the radio etc. the ISRC codes can be logged and any royalties can be collected for that song automatically. At the mastering stage of the production process, we encode these ISRC’s into the CD master alongside the UPC/EAN Barcode (explained later).

This is not a service we can provide as this is managed internationally and operated nationally by appointed operators. For the UK this is PPL. To obtain your ISRC codes, please go to PPL’s ISRC website – http://www.ppluk.com/I-Make-Music/Why-Should-I-Become-A-Member/What-is-an-ISRC/. They will ask you to provide them with certain bits of information… Once you have the producer code part of the ISRC please pass that to us.

Obtaining your codes does not usually take a great deal of time to obtain and are free to the user. It would be best to be prepared and consider these at the beginning of the mastering so they can be ready when we complete our CD image for you. PPL will make you aware of your obligations as the owner of these recordings and ISRC codes.

We will always provide an DDPi of the mastered work for your reference. This is included in the price.

Whilst we’d like to offer this service we are unable to act on client’s behalf. The barcode association would prefer we did not do this on your behalf. To get your own Barcode, please visit and telephone them on +44 (0) 20 7092 3500 saying that you would like to purchase a barcode for an audio CD. These were £25 when we investigated, although prices may alter from time to time. These take a little time, so we would suggest that you get in touch with GS1UK as soon as possible at the start of the mastering project so that the code is ready for when we burn your CD image. For more details, do not hesitate to contact us.
Licensing from PRS for Music In the UK it is wise to discuss with PRS for Music (formerly the MCPS-PRS Alliance) whether you need a licence to sell to the public. If you’re a band or solo artist start here. Alternatively for a wider range of options for other areas such as production music etc. please look here.