CD Mastering Services at Vestman Mastering
 

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  Out of Town Customer Information  

It's easy to send us files either over our internet server or by using our File Upload page. Contact us for easy details on using our internet server.

We do our best to estimate the costs of your project, and every one is unique.

How we deliver our work to you:

1. Audio files sent to you over the internet - simply provide your valid email address

2, Audio reference CDR(s) picked up here or shipped to you

3. CDR or DDP masters picked up here or shipped to you

4. MP3's or AAC's converted from mastered audio files

5. 16, 24 or 32 bit audio data copied to hard drive, DVD, CDR, Flash Drive (aka "thumb")
or other media drives

Payment in full is required for delivery of these above completed formats.

For 4 songs or less, full estimated cost is payable in advance. That way we send you full-length audio files or reference disc(s) to audition. Sending full-length mastered audio files to you is considered delivery of our product.

For 5 songs or more, brand new clients may choose to pay a 50% deposit to hear how the sound is progressing early-on. We can send 50%-length audio samples for you to hear based on a 50% deposit. Full project payment gets you delivery of 100%-length reference audio files sent to you.

Let us know if you want hard copy masters. Shipping costs are addtional to the studio rate and payable prior to delivery. Full payment is required for us to upload DDP files to your replicator or other server.


If extra time beyond your deposit/package amount would be beneficial to your sound, we'll let you know the amount due so you can send payment and get your master quickly.

Save Time: Please fill out our Booking Form so we know the artist name, album title, song sequence, your sonic goals etc.

Email us or call now to schedule your time.

Pack your masters securely if shipping them to us. PLEASE use some kind of light cardboard box and put padding between each and every CDR jewel case!  It saves time and money to be extra secure! 

Please include your typed name, address, phone, payment amount, and email information (shipping labels sometimes fade) with your notes about your music. The same is helpful via email. Let us know what you'd like to hear in the way of enhancements, the order of the songs, what are the important things that should shine, what you plan to do with your CD, who's hands you want it to land in, marketing plans, etc.  We are happy to ship directly to your pressing plant or record label if you prefer.

• We don't recommend using P.O. Boxes for your return address.
• Use a return address where someone will get your package.
• Unless you request it, we do not waive a signature when shipping to you.
When shipping your music to us, we don't recommend the US Post Office. Fed Ex is always reliable.

Keep a back up your masters!

Q) John, I am reletivly new to the mastering deal, and productions in general. What are Separations?  My real goal is to bring all these tracks together in the same range.  -Mike

A) Separations are making files of the basic elements in your mix - stereo drums, instruments, vocals etc. and sending them to us along with your standard 2-track mix.  We have more control over the tonality of your music when we can "operate" on the different parts vs. digging into a stereo file.  It's an amazing format that solves quite a few issues that folks have at mix/mastering time.

 
As producer on this project, I am finding it difficult to "match" the songs from track-to-track. 

Every song has it's own "flavor" and by the end of the project, every mix leans in slightly different directions.  It's common for different songs to appear to have different vocal levels that don't match up, even when they felt perfect at mix time.  Separation Mastering eliminates that concern, because you can't go wrong.  You mix it the way you feel it, and we can correct any song-to-song projection of the vocal.  It's all recallable, non-destructive and it puts the ideal match of  technological flexibility and time-tested expertise at your disposal at a reasonable price. 

John - The band wants to know how can we be sure that you'll get us the sound we're looking for? - Steven.


A) Good question! Tell us what you're looking for!  It helps if you send us a clean copy of a couple commercial CDs that you love the sound of (or a "compilation CDR copy" of 3-5 songs from different artists). This gives us an exact idea of what you like in your area of music. During your session, we'll refer to the commercial CDs you send just as if you were here.

Note any particular things you'd like us to work on in individual songs, or any over-all emphasis. Let us know what characteristics you like about the reference CDs you include. Let us know how detailed you'd like us to get. We comment and communicate with you about your project, so expect that we'll all be on the same page all the way.

After you have your first reference CDR, there are still creative changes or basic corrections that can occur

Unusual: We sometimes offer suggestions or ideas that are not usually approached in regular mastering practices.  For instance, we might suggest a shorter intro for a song if it's especially targeted for airplay or publishing demos -- we might suggest tightening up some aspects of the playing on the tracks themselves, especially at the entrances to phrases -- we might suggest cloning a better-performed section and insert it in place of another section.  Especially when we have Separations, we can give a lot more creative input than just "eq, levels, and compression".  WE ARE NOT MARRIED TO OUR IDEAS.  Your goals are our goals, and we do not take it personally if you prefer your original idea.  If you would like us to make any suggestions as far as song order or mix ideas, we're at your service.

See what other clients have said
 

Q) John, would you listen to one of our songs? I'd just like an opinion from someone well educated to decide if its even worth our time or money to make a full album. -Jon

Our opinion shouldn't be the "measuring stick" by which you decide to do your project or not. If you love your music, and if others would enjoy listening to it on CD, if their iPod would welcome your music, then follow your mind and heart. Some projects sound like platinum to us, and some don't -- but it's all about your dreams!  In the end, all who were involved in your project will have grown - it's a great experience. 

Will there be uncertainty? Sure, why not? Nothing teaches life navigation any better than just steping up to the plate and taking a swing.  Let the process motivate you.  Rejecting yourself will never give you a smile.   Honor your vision, but keep it in balance.  Don't sell the farm or put yourself at great risk.

Key: Imagine what it would feel like once the project is done.  Will you be more excited or less if you had a completed CD in your hand, ready to promote, ready to share, ready to sell?  Often when we make the decision based on what we'll gain, versus what we stand to lose, the choice is clear.  Then just set your intentions - your firm direction - your ability to make things happen and draw in the support you deserve.  You'll be surprised how many people want to see you achieve your dreams....

May the force be with you!

Q) Would it work better if the finished mixes were sorta flat, or if they were brighter, leaving the balancing to the mastering process?

Make it as much to your liking as possible. Listen on different systems, in the car, on the roof, under water, whatever. If you like what you have, you're good to go. Don't try to pre-guess or pre-set for mastering. Don't compress or limit the stereo buss (unless it's the only way to get your sound), but certainly compress as needed on individual tracks. Don't worry much about the loud volume levels of commercial CDs.  Mastering tackle's the volume issue.  It's always helpful to do level-matched A/B comparisons to reference CDs in the studio too - don't be shy - do critial listening into the mixes of commercial recordings.  If you send in Separations, you're particularly in good shape because refinements to the separated musical elements make for excellent musical balance and an improved CD master. 

Should the overall level of the tracks hit between +4 and +8 on the stereo VU meter having the volume level set at unity? Would this make the compression process bring out the bottom so much that it would sound distorted?

This is quite a question, actually.  Increasing the level going into a compressor can increase sustain in the bottom range, causing low frequencies (which have more energy) to break up at different points.  (High frequencies have more intensity, and can cause different issues as well.) 

What to know: A standard VU meter only displays up to +3 VU, but the amount of voltage of the actual electronic signal  that the meter is displaying is different than the VU meter's numeric scale.  "+4" is "line level" which equals about 1.23 volts (+8 output level would be a non-standard voltage).  Typically, line level should be represented by a meter reading of "0VU" in a common signal path in the hardware world.  See, VU meters were designed to "look" like the sound you hear, and often they were paired up with analog tape.  But the trick is that tape actually has 14 dB of headroom above the calibrated standard "0" VU meter display!   The "bonus" area of +1 +2 and +3 on a VU meter really is just the beginning of the headroom that's supposed to be there for the purpose of avoiding distortion. 

Often we think back to the days of slamming meters when recording to analog tape.   Slamming the signal going to analog tape (meter's-a-peggin') used to be cool (remember there was actually 11 dB more invisible headroom above the VU meter's scale) but those pesky red clipping lights on a Full Scale digital meter (peak) is definitely NOT cool because there is no "bonus" room above clipping!  Those red lights don't sound good the way analog pegging sounded!  Don't look at them the same way you look at a VU meter. 

Digital meters show you a different picture that is Full Scale, meaning there is NO headroom above the top.  None.  Full scale meters show you the peaks with no averaging (unless it's a Dorrough meter).  For instance, a triangle or other small percussion instrument can "light up" a digital peak meter all the way, but hardly move the needle on an analog meter.  We recommend at least 2 dB of headroom before clipping an digital meter.  The main reason you don't see VU meters on digital audio workstations is because the software company doesn't know how you are going to calibrate your D-A converters which determine how much electronic signal strength you're putting out. 

Metering and gain structure is important at all stages to avoid distortion. Unity gain is really a point in hardware gear where the calibrated signal in equals the same calibrated signal out.  Digital virtual consoles and plug ins often operate the same way, but distortion occurs at different points in different systems.  Calibrating digital systems (with a smooth sine wave test tone) starts at  -18dBFS which has been a "standard" reference point (18dB below full clipping).  However it gets confusing when it comes to audio CDs, which have gotten louder (a more elevated level) and so sometimes the D-A converter output needs to be changed to accommodate a hotter signal that could cause distortion. 

Unity gain is where the signal is supposed to be ideal, or at least it's a place where you have room above and below the signal to get great sound and less noise.  See your instruction manuals to get more info about your gear and how it's best set up, and above all, use your ears.. carefully! 

I will soon have more compressors to mix with, but this project now will be uncompressed, so will that be a problem to master properly?

Not really, especially if you send in Separations.  We can address the compression of the individual elements very effectively here.  Meanwhile, you can use the old school technique of riding the faders on individual tracks (manual compression) to a good degree - and if you get a mix that you're happy with, we'll just make it even better! 


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