technology means that today it is possible to make a CD at
home on your personal computer. But if you decide to release
that disc, how do you know it will live up to the standards
of other products in the shops?
One way is to have the audio project professionally mastered.
"Mastering" is often used to refer to simply creating
a final disc, or "burning" it to a consumer CDR,
but those "in the know" regard professional mastering,
or post-production, as an essential part of the recording
process and the final creative stage before manufacture. In
fact many engineers will mix their projects with mastering
in mind. Few people are aware that virtually every
major-release Audio CD has been professionally mastered.
In it's simplest form, mastering is simply the creation of
a high-spec production master , however, more often it involves
a subtle but dramatic creative process, requiring great empathy
and skill on the part of the engineer. Every track is assessed
on it's own merits and treated accordingly, but at the same
time are brought together to work as a "whole",
to make an album a consistent listening experience. Still
something of a "black art", we firmly believe that
for the best results it should be performed by experienced
professionals at an established facility, and our customer's
comments support this.
We offer various types of mastering. The two most popular
Direct Transfer - a flat transfer from your
digital source to a PQ encoded Exabyte DDP or 1630 Umatic
production master. One of SRTs engineers will listen throughout
the transfer to hard disc to monitor for any faults - e.g.
clicks, dropouts, distortion etc, then PQ encode the material
and write the production master. Contrary to popular belief,
there are many things that can go wrong with even a flat digital
transfer - in fact it's surprising how often we point out
features our customers weren't aware of ! You will then receive
a CD-R listening copy of the production master and a printed
PQ sheet with any relevant engineers notes - this is the cheapest
option. For an immediate quote, click here .
High-End Mastering - an experienced engineer
will assess your source and advise you on possible improvements
or enhancements to ensure that your project is the best it
can possibly be. Mastering is always recommended if your material
comes from an older analogue or "vintage" source,
and / or from a variety of sources, for example a "best-of"
or compilation album. After the sonic processes of mastering,
the final audio is then PQ encoded and written to the production
master (Exabyte or 1630 Umatic). You will receive a reference
CD-R for your approval and a print out of the PQ sheet with
any relevant engineers comments.
If you're not sure which option is best for you, read on!
Alternatively, contact us for a personal assessment.
So you've spent days, weeks or months recording or compiling
your project. Now the question is, how confident are you that
it's absolutely perfect? Does it sound fantastic throughout?
Are all the tracks at the ideal volume compared to one another?
Are the gaps just right? There are no messy starts, stops;
no annoying little clicks or slightly uneven fades? If the
answer to all of these questions is "yes", you'll
probably want what we term a direct transfer - if not, or
if you know there are things you know you'd like to improve
- a track which needs more bass, to be punchier or to have
more life & air, or you're just missing that certain "something"...
you may want to consider High-End Mastering. If your material
comes from several different sources or is more than a few
years old, it will almost certainly benefit from the extra
care and attention we can provide.
SRT has years of experience providing post-production for
a wide range of projects. (Click here to see some of our recent
projects.) The sophisticated equipment we have available allows
us to make adjustments to the level, EQ (bass and treble),
dynamics, gaps and fades, noise-shaping - any aspect of your
project - adjustments which can be so subtle they are scarcely
audible, or so radical as to transform the sound almost beyond
Our experienced engineers can use their editing and musical
skills to improve your audio if need be, whether it's removing
noises like vocal 'plosives' or clicks, radical editing like
changing the structure of a track for radio play, or reworking
a start or ending. Our SADiE hard disc editors use what is
known as 'non-destructive editing'. - This means that no matter
how drastically your audio is altered, we can always 'undo'
changes, go back a stage or two, or simply revert to the original
version if required.
Sessions - Of course you are always welcome to attend
the mastering session yourself, whether you're the artist,
producer, manager or record company and work with one of our
our engineers. This allows you to offer your opinion about
any changes he feels may be necessary, and he'll be happy
to discuss every option, and offer a professional, impartial
opinion about the project as a whole. Our large studios provide
a unique, comfortable environment and help you see your project
in a new objective light. The perspectives gained here can
be invaluable in shaping the final sound. Attended sessions
are based on four hours for an album, or two for a single,
but of coarse each project (and budget!) is individual so
times may vary. Overnight accommodation before the session
is provided as part of the Mastering/Manufacturing package
if you need it.
For information on preparing a suitable source for direct
transfer or high end mastering, or other technical queries,
see the FAQ.