CD Mastering Services at Vestman Mastering
 

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Our Services

Hardware
Software
Discrete Class-A parametric equalization
De-essing, multiband compression, expansion
Discrete Class-A limiting and pultec-style EQ
Mid-Side width and spatial processing
Discrete Class-A customized precision EQ
Equalization, compression, limiting, expansion
Level correction, Acoustic Bit Correction™ Polarity and phase correction
Precision peak limiting, outboard tube limiting
Editing, cross-fades, sequencing
96k analog audio, 2-Track Ampex analog tape
PQ / ISRC / UPC codes, CD Text
Discrete Class-A monitor control referencing Precision Certified MP3/AAC conversions
Multiband Compression, M-S equalization
Restoration: Declicking, Decrackling, Denoising
Ambiance enhancement, selectable dithering
Reverbs or special processing effects
Vinyl and tape transfers, tape baking/transfer
to digital
Automated eq, vintage gear emulation, tape emulation, center channel focus
Stem mixing - Digital Performer, Pro Tools, Logic, Sequoia
MP3 ID3 tags - add images, lyrics, ISRC codes and more to your MP3's

Mastered For iTunes files
Better sounding music by using higher standards.

High Resolution from beginning to final master begins with upsampling to 96k-24 bit audio - prior to processing via our analog gear.

Attention to detail to prevent clipping distortion. Vestman Mastering masters has been at that exact standard for years. It makes sense.

MFiT standard: Final output audio masters are high resolution 24-bit at  either 96k or 88.2k.

MFiT-compliant means we monitor the Apple AAC conversion IN REAL TIME. We hear the results, and so do you.

A huge benefit: NATURALLY DYNAMIC AUDIO doesn't get blown away by slammed mastering in all situations. In fact, better dynamics will sound punchier, more open, and more distinct. MFiT is about creating better master audio files so that music will move you - the way it wanted to move you in the first place.


We make Certified High-Quality MP3's
for website audio, promotion, etc.


When not utilizing the MFiT format, "record label quality" MP3's don't just take 30 seconds the way they do in iTunes. We have been ahead of the trends for years now to ensure the best sound. The MP3's are played in real time to certify that the file doesn't clip. We can also add images, ISRC Codes, lyrics and more.

Key: Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 conversions to be sure the level is properly adjusted. All loud files that are straight transfers via iTunes are clipped and distorted. We do real-time evaluation to ensure that the file is correctly made.


Digital Audio Workstation Tips

Years ago, we offered an alternative to the confined procedure of traditional mastering: Bring-in-your-DAW mastering!  Having your whole computer (or all-in-one portable recording system) in the mastering room offered amazing flexibility to make mix adjustments in the mastering studio.  The sound coming directly from the digital stereo buss output of the computer's virtual console sounded more open and musical than a typical bounced or re-recorded-into-the-box (loop-back) stereo mix.  When reclocked, the "source" computer that the client brought in sounded warmer and fuller. 


One of the primary advantages of this method was that we could raise up kic drums to a much punchier level than before when the client only brought in 2-track masters.  We could really A/B compare our client's sound with any commercial CD and hear what could be done on-the-spot to optimize the sound. But let's face it.... t's just a pain to lug in that computer -- especially if you don't live in the Los Angels area!!!!! 

Of course... if you change the kic drum, you may want to change the bass... and you may want to change the vocal... etc.  The better one element got, the better you wanted to make other elements!  With every single solitary track at your finger tips we sometimes found ourselves involved in mixing.  Too many tracks, too many options.

A word about punch - be sure your  waveforms are polarity-correct!


We still offer this method for mastering, but we don't recommend it unless you have a Roland, Yamaha, Tascam, AKAI etc. all-in-one digital recording setup.  (Even then making Separations from these systems is excellent.) The advantages of submitting Separations far outweighs the bring-in-the-DAW method.

If you have an all-in-one setup, you can make Separations!  Simply put a sharp, snappy CLICK at the beginning of your song (a bright count-off works so long as there are stick-clicks that are easily heard).  When you make each Separation, simply be sure to include the same exact count at the beginning of the stereo mix and the Separations. We'll sync up your Separations using the click as a visual guide.  Separations are easier, they sound better, and they are flexible in the ways you really need.  Separations keep the mastering process all about REFINEMENT, not REMIXING. 


Separation Mastering is a cutting edge format which includes the stereo mix as reference.  All options are available.  

See how to make Separations - and how we can use Separations Mastering to practically transform your CD master!

Quick tip:
Always record in the highest sampling rate possible. And after you have checked to be sure that your stereo mix does not ever go into clipping (digital overs) and in fact has 2-3 dB of headroom, remove your master fader (so long as  you are not using stereo buss processing) - your mix will sound better!

Important: Use the 3-D's - Document, Describe and Detail!


EQ Magazine

  See article in the May 2006 issue
 
EQ Magazine -
Separation Mastering

If you still feel it will be to your advantage to bring in your computer or all-in-one.... here are some suggestions to help things go smoothly and efficiently.

1) Be fast on your computer/hard disc system. Know your stuff - we move fast in mixing situations, so be ready to cook!

2) Have cue points or markers where you can instantly go to a certain area. So if we say "Please play verse 2 again" you don't have to hunt on a screen - you press whatever your hot-key is to cue to verse 2 and zap! it's playing. Mark all the verses, chorus', bridges, solos, etc., but not more than 10 cue points.

3) Know which tracks are automated and (if so) which tracks aren't.

4) Be able to "select all" tracks in the waveform editing window (envelop window) so that you can bring all the tracks down 2 to 4 dB without disturbing the balance between everything in the mix - sort of like bringing all faders down proportionately. Be able to do the same thing on an entire individual track too.  Headroom in digital is a good thing. Those pesky red lights are not.

5) Know your pluggins and screens well. Sometimes we'll ask to play with the eq or compression parameters - be able to get back and forth quickly. Be sure you know how to save a plugin setting so it can be called up again easily. When you name a pluggin setting, like a new eq setting, make a short name that can include an abbreviated song title, instrument reference, and number. Like "Some Kic 3" would be the 3rd kic drum eq setting used in the song "Somewhere."

6) Know how to set your clock source to digital in (could be called AES/EBU in, Optical in, or S/PDIF in). This is so we can send you a signal from a high-precision digital clock -- which then makes your DAW sound more solid, spacious, and cleaner on the top end. Some systems can do this for the whole system, some you have to change it for each song.

7) Once you're mixdown sessions are all saved and you're ready to go, do a "Save As" for every song and give each song a new name in case we need to refer back to what you did originally. For instance, if your song is called "Peace Train," - save as "Peace Train.2" or something like that, perhaps in a new folder.

8) Make sure your computer is running smoothly and isn't so fragile that a ride in the back seat of your car is going to make it wig out. Back up your hard drive - bring an audio CD burnt from your mixes so we can compare what were doing with what you had before.  If you're hesitant about hauling your computer in the car.... make Separations instead!

9) Know how to remove the master stereo mix fader from your virtual "console." Pro Tools, Digital Performer and Cubase can do this, we're not sure about Nuendo. If you have used the master fader to bring down the overall levels so you aren't getting digital "overs," see item #4 and bring all your track levels down to accomplish the same goal.

10) Learn how to reduce the demand on your computer's CPU.  Drop-outs from processing power shortages are time consuming. Start by minimizing the amount of stuff on the virtual console that has to be redrawn on the screen.  Once your pan's are set, remove the pan "knob" from the "console."  Once your input-outputs are set, remove them from the screen if possible, etc. 


Q) In mastering, are you working with the original 16 tracks? -Jon

No. We us Separations, not a full-blown mixing session.

If you're fine-tuning the original tracks, should I go back and automate each track on every song?

Each system is different. Hard disc systems like Roland's VS series are more difficult to work with because they use snapshots - computer workstations tend to be easier. Be sure you know how to modify fader levels, eq settings etc. whether you've automated them or not. You just want to be sure that the mix you heard at home is the mix you're going to start out with when we plug in your system here.

Digital isn't the only answer to pro sound - some folks hare a misconception that if it's recorded digitally, it's perfect and it will sound like the majors. In many cases digital is used by the majors, but all of the elements starting from the ground up go into what makes the smooth, big sound you hear on a commercial CD (hey just singing in tune is a big plus).

Lots of digital pluggins and such are trying to emulate the "old" sound of vintage compressors and equalizers and analog tape, just because it all sounded so good! Straight digital tends to be a little cold and harsh unless you've paid the price of great converters and other hardware, like the big studios have...

What I have now are my own 2-track stereo masters using the Roland mastering function,

Be careful about a "Mastering" function. That could just be a word for "stereo audio CD" or it could mean more digital processing applied to the stereo buss in order to "enhance" your mix or overall output level. Additional stereo processing to the stereo buss recalculates the numbers and can shrink down the sound image and punch if you're not careful. Generally, it's best to do your eq, compression, reverb, fx etc. to the individual tracks and leave the stereo buss alone.

I've also had several clients who just don't like the sound of the CDRs that the Roland makes for them (that may improve with time). They prefer the sound that comes straight from the mixdown mode. Therefore you'd need to be able to recall them all from whatever drive they reside on - be that external or internal.

I suspect you need to work with original tracks, so automating the mixes is probably better.

Automated is great if you can bring in the computer or hard disc system, but we don't need to do it that way.  Allow for some setup time needed with all-in-one systems.  We've had good luck with this method so remember, we're here to assist you in achieving your goals. 

Can I take a Pro Tools session and import it into Reaper in order to recall it in my own computer? Will there be any deterioration to the sound?

Reaper looks like a good program. I seriously doubt that it can import a Pro Tools session and open the waveforms edited, placed and crossfaded in place just as they appeared in Pro Tools. Even if you had Pro Tools, you'd need the same exact plugins to do the same processing that's there in your current Pro Tools project. The automation in Pro Tools would mostly likely not be able to be read by Reaper. Your
Pro Tools files would have to recorded using broadcast wav files that have time code information embedded in them, and even that doesn't work when edited wave forms are cloned and moved to different locations.

If you have access to your current
Pro Tools session, you can consolidate any edited audio into "beginning-to-end" single-track contiguous audio files. These can then be reassembled in a new DAW. If you are thrilled with the plugin processing in your current Pro Tools session, then you can do (what Digital Performer calls) a Freeze, where the edited-fragmented waveforms are assembled (including the plugin processing) into a new waveform with everything "locked" into the new single-file wav(eform). This is yet another way some people create "stems" - by freezing, or bouncing, or capturing,... all processing and automated moves on to a new track... which then can be imported into a new session/DAW.

Importing  PT files into a new DAW wouldn't be hugely detrimental to the sound, but it's probably not able to be done.... unless you have an import feature in Reaper that I don't know about! 

Solution: In the future whenever you make any mix in any facility other than your own system, you should always always make a full mix, an instrumental mix, and an a cappella vocal mix. This is stock procedure for any artist who might perform live using a tracks version. A TV version (one that includes backup vocals but no lead vocal) is another mixing standard.

In the days of yesteryear, engineers made 4 or 5 alternate mixes - vocal up, vocal down, kic up, snare down, vocal/snare up, etc. for the time when all the songs were brought into mastering. That way if the "objective" recommendation of the mastering engineer called for a louder vocal on a song, there was an alternate take available for just that reason. Nowadays, 2 short passes with instruments and vocals relieves the need for multiple alternate takes because of our ability to recombine them in mastering.

Gregorian Chillout
Gregorian Chillout
Warner Brothers Web Concert Series - Sting
Warner Brothers
Web Concert Series
Sting, Chili Peppers
Teena Marie
Teena Marie
Marc Seal
Marc Seal
Damon the Gypsy
Damon the Gypsy
HD Separation
Mastering
Eden
Eden
Everette Harp
Everette Harp
Cutting a Hot CD

Mastering Procedures

How to prepare for mastering

Creative changes

Even More Secrets of Mixing

Even more about studio monitors

Separations

How to create Separations

Illustrated History of Separations

Great reference CD's

Getting a bigger sound recording

Eq Settings that make a mix come alive!

How much compression?

Should I have the pressing plant make the glass master at 1X?

Stereo widening techniques

Different opinions in the studio

Backup your masters!

How to Align a 2-Track Analog Machine

Career Consultation

Date created: 03/14/03 • modified: 1-26-11
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