What is it and why should I care about it?
Mastering is the last step of the production process, during which a few crucial things need to be done in order for a song to be properly released:
- Generate the master files in a format that is suited to each distribution media, including optimal sample rate, bit depth and ISRC code embedding when necessary
- Ensure that the loudness is coherent between all tracks in an album, consistent with industry standards when required (EBU R128, AES TD1004.1.15-10) and competitive within the genre
- Refine overall tonal balance and stereo imaging (including mono compatibility) to ensure that each mix will translate well on all typical listening situations, while retaining the original artist/producer’s intention
Mastering requires surgical, meaningful moves and a proper listening environment, as well as years of experience in order to be performed efficiently. Mixing engineers, even when they can master their mixes, delegate this step to mastering engineers because bringing a fresh set of ears to a project on which the artist/producer have been working relentlessly for weeks is a very useful feedback to get when you can’t have the candor of a first listen anymore. That is why hiring a seasoned, professional mastering engineer rather than DIY or automated services is recommended. Every single mastering job is performed by Jean-Marc Boulier with the same dedication and professionalism, in line with the artist’s original vision.
Mastering for online stores and streaming
Nowadays the vast majority of releases are done online rather than via physical medium. This is why we are specialising in mastering for online stores and streaming platforms. There are hundreds of them and each has their own loudness normalisation algorithms, format requirements and peculiarities. We are constantly monitoring evolution and changes in the industry and always provide master files that will alleviate the quality loss to a minimum when they are compressed to a lossy format for streaming. Feel free to talk to us about our mastering services and rates.
Formerly known as Mastered for iTunes, Apple Digital Masters is a programme that provides better audio quality for selected content on Apple Music (formerly iTunes). This is achieved when your music is mastered by an Apple authorised mastering house, which guarantees that the mastering engineer will follow a specific procedure and provide a high quality master: source files must be at 24-bit resolution with a minimum sample rate of 44.1 kHz and a set of rules are observed in order to alleviate distorsion and excessive loss of dynamic range.
SoundWise Music Production is on the Apple Digital Masters Providers List. Please note that your music has to be distributed through an aggregator that has 24-bit resolution capability in order to stay compliant.