What is Mastering?
Mastering is the final creative process that your song goes through before replication and/or digital distribution. The overwhelming majority of music is professionally mastered. Mastering helps your music sound competitive, polished, and professional. An experienced mastering engineer artfully applies processing to enhance your mix, improve clarity, increase dynamic impact, maximize levels, and more. The techniques employed can include equalization, compression, limiting, noise reduction, and stereo image enhancement. EP and album mastering can include other essentials like sequencing, spacing, and DDPi creation (including ISRC and CD-TEXT). Audio mastering is a surgical, intricate process that is best left to a professional mastering engineer. An experienced mastering engineer utilizes specialized mastering gear in an extremely accurate listening environment to ensure your music translates well to all modern playback situations. At Nagasaki Sound, our goal is to provide outstanding mastering services at affordable prices. Our online mastering service is convenient, fast, and an incredible value. Mastering engineer Steve Nagasaki is always available to answer questions throughout your project.
What bit rate, sampling frequency, and file type is best?
We prefer 24 bit, 44.1kHz (or higher) Stereo WAV or AIFF. 16 bit WAV is acceptable. MP3, MP4, AAC, and other compressed formats are not acceptable. No noise-shaping or dither. Make sure your mix has at least 3dB of headroom, and absolutely no clipping or digital distortion. No limiters, compressors, or saturators on the main stereo bus. Do not normalize, maximize, or compress your mix just to “get it loud” after the fact. We have specialized gear and techniques to get your levels competitive in the most transparent way possible. For more info, read our article on master buss processing. The more dynamic range you give us (14dB or more recommended), the better your project will sound after mastering. Finally, it’s very important to name your files properly. For example: “Artist – Song – Mix.wav”. If sending stems, use “Artist – Song – Instrument.wav”.
How do I send files to Nagasaki Sound?
Upload directly to our secure account here: nagasakisound.wetransfer.com. If you already have download links, send to nagasakisound at gmail dot com. Please zip your files before sending as an extra precaution against data corruption and more efficient file transfer.
IMPORTANT: Please label your files clearly. We can’t say that enough.
Example: “Artist – Song – Mix.wav”
What is the turnaround time for mastering?
The turnaround time for a single track is typically 2-4 business days, and entire albums usually require 5-7 business days. We do offer rush service on any project for a surcharge. Contact us for your special needs. If you are a potential new client interested in a free sample mastering, please keep in mind your wait for a free sample may be longer, as paid clients receive priority.
What are your mastering rates?
We are very affordable and have extremely competitive rates, especially given the premium quality of our results. Please see the Rates page for current pricing. We offer a free test master for new clients, no obligation. We know once you hear what we can do for your music, we’ve got ya!
How is payment handled?
All projects must be paid in advance. Nagasaki Sound accepts PayPal payments, and all major credit and debit cards securely through PayPal.
What is a DDPi, and do I need it for my mastering project?
DDPi stands for Disc Description Protocol Image. A DDPi is the modern industry-standard format for delivering disc premasters for duplication. It is a safer, more secure and convenient delivery method than the old hardcopy PMCD format. It is not necessary for digital distribution (internet downloads), but is required for professional physical CD replication in larger runs. We strongly suggest you use a replicator who is familiar with and can intake DDPi. In the United States, we recommend Discmakers.
What is CD-TEXT?
CD-TEXT is text encoded onto your premaster (DDP) that enables your final replicated discs to display artist and song titles in certain CD players. This is included with our service if you order a DDPi.
What is ISRC and do I need it?
ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code. It is a 12-digit code unique to each of your songs and allows them to be tracked for sales and radio station plays. If you are interested in getting the credit and money you deserve from your music, it is highly recommended that you obtain your unique code prefix.
USA clients may obtain their code from www.usisrc.org
International clients may look up their country’s official ISRC issuer from the IFPI here: www.ifpi.org/content/section_resources/isrc_agencies.html
What is Mastered for iTunes, and do I need it?
Mastered For iTunes is Apple’s new high resolution initiative on iTunes. Qualifying releases display the Mastered For iTunes badge. In the same way that mastering for vinyl requires a different approach than mastering for CD, Apple has introduced specific requirements to obtain the best results for their AAC encoding process. Nagasaki Sound is proud to be one of the few mastering studios specifically authorized by Apple to provide MFiT masters. We offer this additional service as a low cost add-on to standard mastering, and will deliver an extra set of high resolution premasters optimized for iTunes.