Frequently Asked Questions[/heading_title]

How should we prepare out tracks for mastering?

Please don’t limit! Leave as much headroom as possible. Try to make the mix as dynamic as possible. Over-processing, especially in the digital realm, can lead to a saturated, fatiguing and lifeless mix which in turn will benefit little from mastering and you’ll end up disappointed. Don’t try to make the mix radio-ready. Don’t try to copy the sound of others/ your favorite band. Try to think (and act) in terms of what you have to say with your music and how you envisioned the sound. Don’t over use tools, especially plugins, just because they’re handy – they are only tools. Use what’s needed to achieve your goal and nothing more. If you have to use more processing after processing something’s wrong and you should star over. Export at the sample rate you mixed. Up-sampling won’t provide any improvement. Use 24bit if possible. Send us more than one version of a mix if in doubt (e.g.  vocal +1dB, -1dB bass, and so on) and we’ll pick the one we think is best. Please contact us if you need mix consulting; we’ll gladly listen to your track and give you some advice in order to obtain a better mix and subsequently a GREAT master.

(If you are a more experienced engineer or producer and you already know all of the above please don’t be offended and disregard them; they’re meant for the less experienced, younger clients as they might take good use of these suggestions).

How and When can I pay? Are revisions included? Can I change my mix?

1.   We prefer payment before the session begins. In special cases we allow payment during the session, but before the session ends. We make every effort to meet all deadlines so please make arrangements regarding payment to avoid delays or reschedules. No master will be released under any circumstances unless paid in full. We accept PayPal and bank to bank wire transfers for US and PayPal only for international customers. Don’t pay ahead. Send us your PayPal info (email) and we will invoice you.

2.   Mixes sent to us MUST be final, approved by the band, producer or whoever is in charge and has the final say. Any changes regarding the initial mixes after the mastering session starts will be considered a new session and will be charged accordingly. Revisions to the mastered tracks are included in the mastering rate and, if the case, we’ll do as many as necessary until the client is 100% happy with the results, as long as the initial mix is used. Changing the mix means starting all over and will be charged as a new song/project. We might recommend remixing a certain project or song if we consider it will not yield a good enough master, in which case there will be no additional charges.

3.   It is very important to properly label all audio files or media sent to us (CDs, DATs, memory sticks, tapes). Please include the name of the band/artist, all track titles, album title, bit depth /sample rates and if possible, attached in a text file, recording and mix engineer’s name, studio, label, producer etc.

4.   Please provide the final running order of tracks at the beginning of the mastering session along with the correct and proofed track titles, album title and artist name. For any alterations or changes, after the session ends, additional charges will apply.

5.   Please provide any additional requests like special fades, cross-fades, links between tracks, unusual index placements or any other particular requirements regarding your project beforehand, in an attached text file. Also, please send the ISRC and UPC/EAN codes if you want them included in the master. For any alterations or changes, after the session ends, additional charges will apply.

6.   You have 15 days after the first delivery to approve the master or request revisions. Any changes after that period of time will be charged accordingly. If you know you will need more time for approval, that has to be agreed upon beforehand by both parties.

What is CD-Text?

CD-Text allows for storage and display of additional information (e.g. album name, song name, and artist) by hardware CD-players. CD-Text is not related to the CDDB (see below) and therefore does not allow track titles to show up in media players such as iTunes – only hardware players such as some home and automotive CD players. Please note that CD-Text is only included upon request.

Why don’t the track names come up on my computer when I put in my reference disc?

The first thing you need to do it to visit Gracenote – this is who you will upload the information to about your disc. Over time, the information will propagate to everyone’s computer as their media player software (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc) connects to the Gracenote music recognition service (originally known as CDDB) and downloads the updated information.

What are ISRC codes?

The ISRC is a unique alpha-numeric code that functions as a digital “fingerprint” for your music. The ISRC remains allocated to a recording regardless of changes in ownership and is an extremely powerful tool for royalty collection, administration and anti-piracy safeguards. If you are on a label, they will typically provide the ISRC codes for your recordings. If you are an independent artist, you will need to have your own registrant code provided by USISRC (in the US) or IFPI (elsewhere). These organizations will help you through the process of applying for a registrant code – we can help you generate the appropriate ISRC codes from there. Please note: not all clients require ISRC codes – if you need ISRC codes embedded in your production master(s), please make us aware when you order the production master(s).

What is Mastered For iTunes (MFiT)?

In 2012 Apple introduced Mastered For iTunes (MFiT) – a combination of practices and tools that allow us to help ensure that your fans have a great listening experience with iTunes purchased music no matter where they listen to it. Mastervargas is not officialy approved to deliver iTunes masters with the iTunes logo because the whole process and the certification is Mac only and we are a PC based studio but we understand the guidelines and we are able to deliver iTunes ready files with the required resolution free of overs in accordance with the MFiT “standard”. MFiT masters do require some extra time, so there are extra fees associated with the creation of these masters. If you are interested in having your music sounds as good as it can on iTunes, be sure to ask us for more information. Not all labels & digital distributors are currently able to accept MFiT masters, so be sure to check with your label or distributor about MFiT availability for your project. (read more here)