Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need IRSC (International Standard Recording Code) Codes For My Songs?
- It depends. IRSC codes are a free digital identification for the purpose of rights administration of your songs. They are required by most digital distribution companies (including iTunes) and download sites to sell music online, but not for CD replication or duplication.
If you have IRSC codes for your songs, I will encode them into the metadata of your master.
Apply for IRSC codes here.
How Hot (Or Loud) Should My Mixes Be?
- Levels that peak at –3dBFS are more than sufficient. Mixes that peak at 0dBFS likely have inter-sample clipping. Clipping is bad.
Avoid normalizing your tracks, since this may have adverse effects and is completely unnecesary.
I Love The Way Album XYZ Sounds, Do You Want To Hear It?
- Absolutely. It is helpful for me to know if you are shooting for a specific sound. Just make sure the music is similar in style, instrumentation and production to your album. And please mention this before I start working on your songs!
I Think The Vocals On My Mix Are Too Quiet, But You Can Turn Them Up In Mastering, Right?
- Sometimes, but it is far easier to fix this problem during mixing.
If you have doubts about the level of the vocals, send a “vocal up” and “vocal down” version in addition to the “normal” mix. I’ll pick the most appropriate version during mastering.
I Want My Album To Sound Loud! Can You Do That?
- Of course. Honestly, with today’s tools, anyone can make an album louder. Unfortunately, this is often done at the expense of subtlety, rhythmic clarity, impact, and fullness; the recording will start to sound loud and tiny, instead of warm, big, and punchy.
Lost transients result in lost punch and clarity.
To learn more about why LOUD isn’t necessarily better, read this article on “The Loudness War”.
My Mix Isn't Bright Enough Or Doesn't Have Enough Bass. Should I Add Some Treble/Bass Before Sending It To You?
- No. You should always use EQ on stereo mixes with caution, since too much may introduce undesirable amounts of phase distortion and change the imaging and depth of the mix.
In general, it is easier for me to brighten things up while mastering than to add bass. In other words, I would rather your mix be on the dull side rather than being too bright, yet containing the desired amount of bass.
My Mix Sucks, But Mastering Will Make It Sound Great! Right?
- No! But it might help a little.
Keep in mind that mastering is the art of compromise. Any changes I make with EQ or compression to fix one instrument or problem will affect others in the mix. This is why it is important to send mixes that you are happy with. If you aren’t happy with a mix, remix it if at all possible.
Should I Let You Know About Any Problems With The Mixes? Like Hum, Distortion, Bad Edits And Clipping?
- Absolutely. This will save me time.
Should I Record At 24-Bit 192 Khz?
- 24-bit? Yes!
I’ve found that most people can hear the difference between 16-bit and 24-bit sources files - even under less than ideal listening conditions.
192 kHz? Maybe not.
With higher sampling rates you need to be concerned about jitter. Jitter sounds bad. Unless you’ve spent thousands of dollars on your A/D/A converter, recording at higher sampling rates may introduce jitter.
Why? Let’s look at an example. Recording at 88.2 kHz requires your A/D converter’s clock to be twice as accurate as at 44.1 kHz for the same amount of jitter! Recording at 192 kHz requires over 4 times the clock accuracy! Additionally, higher sampling rates have higher computer procesing overhead and require more storage space for the resulting files.
Think I’m full of it? Check out Dan Lavry’s excellent white paper on Sampling Theory.
Personally, I record at 88.2kHz. I feel it gives me additional fidelity over 48kHz without overwhelming my computer.
Should I Trim, Fade In Or Fade Out My Mix?
- No, you might accidentiatlly cut out portions of the first or last note. Seriously, it happens. I’ll do the fades during mastering.
Should I Use A Compresser Or Limiter On The Mix I'm Sending You To Master?
- No. Avoid compressing or limiting the whole mix. It is impossible to recover lost dynamics.
If you like the compressed sound you used while mixing, send me both mixes. The uncompressed/unlimited mix for mastering and the compressed mix as a guide.
What Files Should I Send You?
- For mastering, send stereo mixes as WAVE or AIFF files - the highest resolution files you have. 24-bit is prefered, but 16-bit is okay too. Any sampling rate is okay (44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, etc.).
For mixing, send individual mono or stereo files for each track in your DAW. Again, 24-bit files are preferred.
Although less than ideal, I can also work with mp3s or other lossy file types if that is all you have.
What's The Deal With Phase And Mono Compatibility?
- Mono compatibility is especially important when the material is intended for vinyl or for radio or TV broadcast, but is also valuable to pinpoint any potential phase issues.
Check for phase coherence when mixing to ensure mono compatibility. To do this, listen to your mix in mono and see if any instruments disappear.