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MASTERING

What is Mastering, and how much does it cost? 
(jump to rates)
(jump to samples)

"If mixing your album was working on its beach body, mastering would be the spray tan." -Steve Poponi

Mastering has been described as the last step in the creative process, and the first step in the manufacturing process. Both descriptions have their merits. In the creative realm, mastering is the last chance for you to make broad sonic changes or specific corrective ones to your material using equalization, compression, limiting, saturation and sometimes even reverb. It is also the time to balance the levels of each song and to sequence and edit the record to sound cohesive and flow well.

In relation to the manufacturing process, the industry has moved towards streaming so in many cases you will only need a set of sequenced wave files. But many artists still produce a variety of physical releases. Below are the most common ones. 

 

DDP 

This is essentially the 21st century way to mail a CD-R to the pressing plant. The manufacturer will use this file set to press, replicate or duplicate thousands (tens) of CDs. We will email you the file set and DDP player so that you may confirm that all information is correct before sending to the plant. 

Vinyl 

We provide you with 2 sides (One wave file each for Sides A and B).

These files are at the native sample rate, high resolution and optimized for vinyl playback. We also provide documentation for the manufacturer.

Cassette 

We provide you with 2 sides like the vinyl process.

These files are identical to the Digital Masters in many cases. We provide documentation for the manufacturer with these as well.

Pricing is not "one size fits all" for mastering but this is a good guide:

 

Single (one song) ~ $50

EP (4-6 songs under 30 mins of music) ~ $200

LP (7-12 songs under 75 mins of music) ~ $500

Mastering Samples:
I think it's pretty telling that what we considered really good "in-house" mixes showed such a huge improvement from mastering, So, you don't suck probably, you just need good mastering! Check out the samples below, Un-mastered on the left and Mastered on the right. The 1st sample will stop when you click the 2nd so you can A/B them easier.

Matt Weber mixed this song @ Gradwell, Mastered by Dave Downham 
 

Steve Poponi mixed this song @ Gradwell, Mastered by Dave Downham


 

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My Car -UNMASTERED - Pilkington
00:00 / 00:00
My Car- MASTERED - Pilkington
00:00 / 00:00
Away- UNMASTERED - Low Dose
00:00 / 00:00
Away- MASTERED - Low Dose
00:00 / 00:00