Mastering is the final part of the recording chain. It's the process of balancing your tracks with equalisation and dynamics processing, removing any unwanted blemishes from your music, and presenting the project in its best possible sonic light. It is referred to as the "pro sheen" that is often lacking from even the best mixes.
Mastering is an essential process that provides continuity and consistency, adding the final touch that allows your songs to sound seamless, finished and playable on a wide variety of playback systems from iPods to car stereos, through to Hi-Fi and club PA systems. With tighter recording budgets becoming the norm, more and more mixing is being done in less than ideal surroundings (bedrooms and ill designed control rooms with poor acoustic treatment and inaccurate monitoring systems) So, professional mastering is now more crucial than ever!
London Road Studios has a dedicated and great sounding mastering room, with superb acoustics, a blend of high end analogue hardware, digital equipment, industry leading software and an incredibly revealing multi monitoring system.
Rates from as little as £30 per track. We offer a fully online mastering service but clients are also welcome to attend a session. We have facilities to master from 2-track stereo mixdowns / sub group "stems" and analogue tape (1/2" & 1/4" up to 30 IPS) We also offer restoration service for old cassette tape, vinyl and DAT recordings.
Please see our "Mix Preparation" and "FAQ" sections for more in depth info on mastering and also how to prepare your files to send to us. Even if you’re not new to mastering It is advisable to view these pages before uploading your tracks. Any further questions you might have feel free to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
The things you want to look out for when making your final stereo mixdown are as follows:
Getting a mix ready for mastering isn't terribly difficult, but it's easy to make mistakes that can impact on what can be achieved at the mastering stage. The use of effects such as heavy compression, equalisation (EQ) or peak limiting on the "master output bus insert" is the first common mistake to make, leave that to us!
Peaking / Clipping
Make sure that none of your individual tracks are clipping either on the track itself or in a plugin.
Master Output Processing
It is not uncommon with many genres of music for engineers / clients to mix into a stereo bus compressor. If that is the case with your mix, please advise us of this fact when uploading using the notes section on WeTransfer Plus. The same goes with using a tape machine (real or plugin emulation) on the master output to provide tape compression.
Leave plenty of "headroom" the master output bus on your DAW should be peaking at -6 db to -3 db at the very most, NEVER clipping into the red.
Bouncing / Exporting
Bounce mixes down at the same resolution that you recorded in, I.E. If you recorded at a bit depth of 24 and sampling rate of 48kHz, make sure you bounce the stereo stem at 24 bit, 48kHz, then send to us. Do not apply "dithering" or down sampling to 16 bit / 44.1 (CD standard) yourself unless that is the resolution at which you recorded in the first place.
Listen to your mixes on as many sets of speakers as you can to make sure you're happy with how it sounds in different environments. Good audio recordings generally sound good everywhere, and the better your audio file sounds before mastering, the better it will sound after mastering.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between mixing and mastering?
Mixing is the process of adjusting the individual tracks/individual instruments in of a song, and mastering typically only deals with the stereo output of a mix. Mastering comes after mixing and is the last creative musical process before releasing a CD.
Do you offer a sample service? Will you master one of my tracks so I can see if I like the results?
Absolutely! We will gladly master one of your tracks and then send you back an audio sample (with white noise or beeps added every 45 seconds) fully mastered for you to proof listen and confirm. If all is approved by you then we can take payment for the single track (see rates section for pricing) and then send you the full track back via email link Or we can carry on and master your EP or album (discounts available for album mastering) We will then send the whole album out to you via email link in wav format and or red book cd master. We also provide high quality MP3 or iTunes Lossless files for free.
Why should the person who masters the songs be someone other than the person who mixed it?
It is has been widely held in the music industry for many years that whoever mixed your record should not also master it. One of the main reasons for this is that mixing and mastering are a totally different skill set and require a custom set of different tools than used in the tracking process. In addition, a mix engineer won't have fresh ears or perspective if they have already listened to a songs a hundred times over. The tendency over time for even the best mix engineers, is to lose clarity and judgement over the song as a whole. The mastering engineer has a fresh outlook to the track and can expand on the original vision of the mix.
How should I upload my tracks for the online mastering service, what info do I need to provide?
When you are ready, please use our secure WeTransfer Plus file transfer system in the "Upload Tracks" section to send your tracks to us. Please fill out the form with your name address and email / contact details along with any pointers on how you'd like the track to sound, the more info the better. High quality audio samples of half the song / track will be sent (via email link) once mastering is complete. We will then wait for your approval and make any tweaks you feel are necessary.
What payment methods do you accept?
Payments can be made with Credit Card, Debit Card, Paypal or Bank Transfer. We will provide a secure payment link once you have are happy with the sample masters of your tracks.
Once payment is received we will send you the full versions via a download link.
How long will it take to get my finished product back?
Usually within 48 hours, but turnaround times vary, sometimes it takes as little as a few days.
Send Your Files
Step 1 - PrepareMake sure to read our section on Mix Preparation before you upload.
Step 2 - Send your track(s)Click the box to the left to upload your tracks using our secure WeTransfer Service.
If you would like to get a free sample master before committing to payment, please make this clear in the 'Message' box when you send your file(s).
Also, if you require the mastered tracks to be sent to an alternative email address, please put it in the 'Message' box.
Step 3 - Payment
We accept VISA, MasterCard & other debit cards through PayPal, as well as direct PayPal payments.
If you do not have a PayPal account you can still pay using your credit or debit card.
We also accept bank transfers.