Common Mastering Questions
Every Mastering house runs a little differently. Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions specific to us and our process. Please reach out if you have a question that is not answered here. We are happy to discuss your project with you and help clarify the steps along the way.
How long does mastering an album take?
There are several factors that can affect how long any given project will take to complete. The biggest factors are:
- Number of songs
- Total project running
- Quality of the recording & mixes
Most full-length albums are completed in one day’s session. There are exceptions, though rare.
Once your mastering session is complete, you will receive a reference (either physical CD or WAV files) to review and approve. Once you have approved the mastering, we can go forward with any Production Master(s) needed per your release plans.
What format do you accept for mix delivery?
For digital mixes, our preference is to receive full resolution WAV or AIFF files at the highest resolution possible without any conversion. (Sometimes the only audio available might be in MP3 or other lossy format. We can work with that if necessary.) Please render your mixes at the same Sample rate of the recording and with either 24bit or
If you are mixing to tape, we can work with 1/4-inch (1/2 track or 1/4 track) or 1/2-inch (1/2 track), 7.5 ips,15 ips and 30 ips. If possible, please include the following tones: 10k, 1k, 100 at 0 VU. 50hz and 15khz are also useful. If any are not at 0 VU, please note level. Please also provide a track list of what mixes are on which reels, and in what order.
How much headroom should I leave in the mixes?
Peak levels up to -3 or -2 are fine. More important than peak headroom is your Crest Factor, or Peak to RMS ratio. Of course this varies between genres and aesthetic styles, but RMS level is typically not more than 14-16 db below peak level, and not less than about -10db. For example, if your peak level is -3, you would look for RMS levels to be around -17 to -19 or so. These numbers are rough guidelines. Avoid ANY unintentional digital clipping, including tracks, outputs, busses, sends, plugins, etc. Even if you can’t hear it, it can sometimes become audible post mastering chain. All that said, please do not change your mixes to meet these criteria if it changes the way they sound in a way you do not love. Mixes that sound the way you want them to are the top priority.
Do you master for vinyl?
Yes! We love when our work goes to vinyl. Our mastering chain has developed to include a concurrent channel of audio that is specifically for vinyl. If mixes have characteristics that warrant it, occasionally a song can be run a second time with separate settings to address those characteristics. Otherwise, there is not additional studio time for mastering specifically for vinyl, though there IS an additional set of files that get rendered and formatted for delivery to the lacquer cutter, which incurs a charge to prepare, QC, and deliver.
We prepare the audio for your lacquer cutting engineer, but we do not cut lacquers in-house. We have developed a sense of who is doing quality work out there in the vinyl manufacturing world, so if you’re looking for recommendations on who to go through to have records made, just ask!
How much will mastering my album cost?
We work hourly, so cost completely depends on the scope of your project. We are happy to put a customized estimate together for you with your specific project in mind at any time! Just give a call, send an email, or fill out the
How do I get my mixes to you for mastering?
When ready, please get the mixes to us (or have your engineer send them) by directing a share or download link via Dropbox or WeTransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unless using a Dropbox *share* we recommend you ZIP the folder before uploading to ensure an uncompromised transfer. Please name the files with your band name or otherwise indicate which project they belong with. Please do not use other cloud services without checking with us first.
If you prefer to deliver files through our secure FTP server, let us know and we’ll set up login credentials for you.
If you are attending your session, and delivering mixes in file format, please bring them in on a hard drive AND use one of the cloud methods described above.
Tapes or hard drives with your mixes can be shipped to us at: 3136 E Madison St, Ste 300N, Seattle WA 98112.
Please do not send us any material until your session is booked.
We will also need your album information with correct spelling, capitalization and punctuation, so that we can sequence and encode CD Text-
Artist Name, Album Title, Song Titles in order of the album. ISRCs if you have them, though not required.
Location & Contact
3136 East Madison, Suite 300n
Seattle, WA 98112