Choose this option if you’d like Mystery Room Mastering to set up a custom SoundCloud page of your project’s initial master and all revisions. This will be done using the highest resolution source files as possible for the best user listening experience. This will be a private page that can only be accessed using a special link that you’ll receive. A SoundCloud page can be useful if you need an easy way to share your project with others that may be involved with the project, either while the mastering is in progress or the finished product.
If you or others involved are not very tech savvy, this is also a simple way to access your master via any Internet browser on a computer or most smartphones and tablets. It’s not the most accurate or high fidelity way to experience your master, but it is very simple and practical for some situations. It’s very mobile friendly.
Another use for a custom SoundCloud page is for promotional needs leading up to and during the launch of the project. You can be sure that the listening experience via the SoundCloud page is as good as possible within the limitations of SoundCloud audio streaming. The page will stay active for as long as you’d like, and can also be made public at any time if needed.
If you choose this option, please send the album cover art or a temporary image that you’d like to use on the page. You can also send a short set of notes to be visible on the page.
Choose this option if you would like to have ISRC codes generated and assigned to each of your songs. An ISRC code is a digital fingerprint for each of your songs to track online usage, radio play, and other usage in the interest of collecting royalties. ISRC codes do not directly relate to album or project info being displayed on CD players or in iTunes software on a computer. See HERE for more info on how CD players and music playback software like iTunes and Windows Media Player will identify your CD.
ISRC codes are not required for a CD release but most online distributors (iTunes Store/Spotify etc.) do require an ISRC code for each song. Having Mystery Room Mastering assign your ISRC codes ahead of time ensures that your CD master and manufactured CDs have valid ISRC codes embedded, and you can then use these same ISRC codes when you set up your online distribution.
You can also provide your own ISRC codes at no additional cost if you have them. Use the designated ISRC field in the form below if you have your own codes. ISRC codes must be provided by the time the final CD master for production is made (at the very latest) if you’d like them included on the manufactured CDs. There is no way to retroactively add ISRC codes to a physical CD once manufacturing has started but you could remake the DDP or CD-R production master with the ISRC codes added for the next CD pressing.
Check this box if you are also supplying instrumental and/or TV mixes of your songs to be mastered. It’s important to provide these additional mixes at the same time as the main mixes or the total cost will be higher because of extra work involved.
Mystery Room Mastering cannot create instrumental masters from your regular mixes with vocals. Instrumental mixes must be created at the mixing stage.
Please be sure that there are no other changes to the mix other than the vocals being removed when making instrumental mixes. This will ensure the most continuity between the masters of your full mixes, and the masters of your instrumental versions.
As part of the base mastering rate, you will automatically receive your master in DDP format with a licensed copy of HOFA DDP Player for approving your project master and any revisions. The DDP Player allows you to listen to your master on a computer (Mac or PC), burn CDs, and export 16-bit/44.1k WAV files to your computer. It’s often the most effective and foolproof way to listen to your master in order to evaluate spacing between songs, artist/album/song titles, and the sound quality itself.
DDP is also the best, fastest, most reliable, and easiest way to transmit an audio master to a manufacturer for CD production. Nearly all CD manufacturers accept DDP files for CD replication orders. A physical CD-R master is only needed for some smaller CD duplication orders from some (but not all) manufacturers. Check with your manufacturer to be sure DDP can be used for your specific order, or leave a note in the notes section of this form to indicate who you plan to use for CD manufacturing and we can check for you.
The DDP will cover nearly all CD pressing and online distribution needs. If you would like higher resolution master files (for Bandcamp and SoundCloud), Mastered For iTunes compliant files, or mp3 (or AAC) files directly from the mastering session, please select the appropriate option(s) on this form.
16-bit/44.1k WAV files are currently the standard and most common format for submitting your masters to the majority of digital distributors (Tunecore, Orchard, CD Baby), and they can be exported directly from the DDP Player you will receive with your master.
Choose this option if you are doing an official Mastered For iTunes release and you will receive master files that qualify for a Mastered For iTunes release. A Mastered For iTunes release must be set up as a separate release with most digital distributors at this time, so keep that in mind because it’s an extra distribution cost in most cases. This is because a separate set of master files must be created and submitted to your digital distributor for a Mastered For iTunes release.
If you are doing a standard iTunes release, you do not need to check this box. The files you receive as part of the base mastering rate (16-bit 44.1k WAV) will work for most digital distribution including a standard iTunes release.
These files are ideal for submitting to websites like Bandcamp and SoundCloud, as well as to keep in your archive for future needs. Bandcamp and SoundCloud currently accept higher resolution master files than most online distributors which is a good thing. Other digital distributors will likely accept these higher resolution masters sometime in the future.
Also choose this option if you are doing an official Mastered For iTunes release and you will receive master files that qualify for a Mastered For iTunes release. A Mastered For iTunes release must be set up as a separate release with most digital distributors at this time, so keep that in mind because it’s an extra distribution cost in most cases. This is because a separate set of master files must be created and submitted to your digital distributor for a Mastered For iTunes release.
These are 24-bit WAV files prepared at the native sample rate of your project (or double the native sample rate if the original unmastered files are 44.1k or 48k). They are typically prepared as one file per record side to make sure that the spacing and transitions between songs is retained.
The files will be sonically optimized to translate to vinyl as well as possible. The lacquer cutter or pressing plant you choose can also have a major influence on the sound quality of your vinyl record. Feel free to email me if you’d like to discuss how to make sure your vinyl sounds as good as possible.
CLICK HERE to read an article I wrote that covers some important things to consider when doing a vinyl project.
If you know who you are using for lacquer cutting and/or vinyl manufacturing, please leave that info in the notes section below.
These are usually 16-bit/44.1k WAV files (one WAV file for each side of the cassette tape), but if you are using a tape manufacturer that can make cassette tapes from 24-bit/high sample rate files, please include that info in the additional notes section. Cassette Pre-Masters are typically prepared as one file per side to make sure that the spacing and transitions between songs is retained.
If you know who you are using for cassette manufacturing, please leave a note in the additional notes section with this info.
If you choose this option you’ll receive mp3 or m4a (AAC) files of your digital master. Mp3 or m4a files are smaller in size because they are lower resolution files than an audio CD for example. They are comparable to the type of file you would receive when you purchase a song from the iTunes Store.
The mp3/m4a files will be encoded from a 32-bit float source within the mastering software which will produce better results than if you were to encode them yourself from 16-bit or 24-bit WAV files. This will ensure that the mp3/m4a files sound as good as possible given their technical limitations.
The files will also contain all the metadata and artwork you typically see when you purchase a song from the iTunes Store. While mp3/m4a files are rarely used as a master source file, you may want these files for easily sharing your album or project directly with others for personal or promotional use. You can easily fit a few mp3/m4a files in an email attachment. A WAV file of a song is typically too large to attach to an email and not as ideal for direct sharing.
One situation where mp3/m4a files are sometimes used as a master file is for digital download card services. The reason is because many digital download card services simply host the files you submit to them, and they do not do any additional format conversions. So, if you’re planning to offer download cards with your vinyl release or in general, these mp3 files will be ready to go, and they will sound and look as good as possible.
Mp3/m4a files are not the type of files you’d submit for most other online distribution. Most online distribution requires a WAV file as the master source file and it is converted to the end format from the master WAV file. For example, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify all use a unique file type to deliver music to the listener, but that unique file is created from your original master WAV file.
The base mastering rate includes 16-bit/44.1k WAV files which is most common at this time for most online distribution. Some distribution methods accept higher resolution 24-bit / native sample rate files. See that section for more info.
Converting an mp3/m4a to WAV for any reason is not recommended or useful because it will still be a low resolution file in all reality. Once a file is reduced to mp3/m4a quality, the audio quality is forever lost, even if it’s converted back to WAV.
You probably do not need a physical CD-R, but a handful of CD and cassette manufacturers, lacquer cutters (for vinyl projects), and pressing plants still require that a physical disc be mailed to them for production. It ultimately depends who you decide to use and your order details.
Most masters can be transmitted to the manufacturer via Internet without the need for a physical disc. Check with your sales person and/or the specifications on their website. There is no extra charge from Mystery Room Mastering for delivering master files via Internet.
The general rule for CD manufacturing is for replication orders, a DDP file can be used and transmitted via Internet. For small quantity duplication orders, a physical master CD-R is usually needed. The exception to this rule is if you are using Disc Makers or Sooper Dooper, because they can accept DDP files for both CD duplication and replication orders. Just let Sooper Dooper know that your DDP is from Mystery Room Mastering if you are doing a small quantity CD duplication order with them.
It’s best to avoid using a CD-R as a master disc whenever possible because they are not as reliable as a DATA file such as DDP (for CD manufacturing), or 24-bit/high resolution WAV files (for vinyl & cassette production).
When using a CD-R as a master disc is the only option, it is tested here at Mystery Room Mastering for c1/c2 errors using PlexTools software to be sure it qualifies to be considered a master disc for CD production. Burning your own master CD-R is not advised.
A CD-R is not a good method of archiving your project long term. Email to discuss better options for long term archival of your project that you can rely on for years to come.
Choose this option if you would like a custom USB flash drive containing all of your mastered files and other miscellaneous files related to the mastering session.
You will be able to download all your mastered files via Internet in various formats at the end of the mastering process, but if you’d like to receive them all on one convenient USB flash drive, you have that option. Backups are good.
The price includes a USB flash drive and shipping within the United States. Please remember to include your mailing address in the additional notes section below.
Payment via Venmo or personal/business check is appreciated to avoid processing fees. It’s harder for smaller businesses to absorb the processing fees involved with PayPal and credit/debit card payments.
Payment via PayPal or credit/debit card is easily done. You will receive an invoice upon completion of the project with a direct link to make a secure payment.
International Bank Wire Transfers are subject to a $20 USD charge for processing fees. Unfortunately, Bank Wire Transfers are not as common in the US as they are in Europe and are much more costly to process than PayPal and credit/debit cards so a fee must apply.
No payment is required until 100% of the work is done with 110% satisfaction.
If you choose this option, initial masters are guaranteed to be delivered to you within 72 hours from the time the files and data are submitted.
From there, most revisions can be done the same or next day depending on the timing and complexity of the revision requests.
Choose this option if you favor a more natural sounding master. A dynamic and natural sounding master comes at the expense of some overall loudness, but is often more pleasing to listen to in context. A more dynamic master can actually have much more impact than a master that is extremely loud if the mixing and mastering are tastefully done. By preserving the dynamic range of your master, you are leaving some headroom for the loud parts to get loud, and the quieter parts to remain quieter.
It’s a very subjective decision that also depends on the qualities of your performances, recording, and mixing. Remember that louder does not always equal better and you can’t have a master with both an extremely high average loudness and an extremely dynamic master at the same time. It’s a give and take process.
Choose this option if the main objective of your mastering session is to achieve a loud master. Generally speaking, the louder the master, more compromises to the dynamic range and sonic characteristics must be made as the level is pushed louder.
In the digital world, all material reaches a certain point in which making it louder involves compression and/or digital limiting. This will induce sonic artifacts into your music that can work well for some styles of music, but are not pleasing or ideal for all styles of music. Extremely loud masters will begin to sound harsh and aggressive when they reach a certain point.
It’s a very subjective decision that also depends on the style and quality of your performances, recording, and mix. Remember that louder does not always equal better and you can’t have a master with both an extremely high average loudness and an extremely dynamic master at the same time. It’s a give and take process.
Sometimes no matter how loud you attempt to make a master, it may NOT have a lot of “perceived loudness”. CLICK HERE to read more on this.
Choose this option if you trust Mystery Room Mastering to find the sweet spot for your master based on the style of music, as well as the style and qualities of your performances, recording, and mixes. Distribution formats (vinyl, CD, cassette, digital/online) also factor in to this.
CLICK HERE to read more about perceived loudness vs. technical loudness.
Choose this option if you’d like master files at 48k sample rate which is the rate nearly all video editors work at. If you are planning to make video content for any of your songs, you’ll want 48k WAV masters so that your audio does not need to be converted or processed before being imported into the video edit session.
Allowing your master audio to be converted to 48k using the sample rate conversion found in video editing software can do some unnecessary damage to the audio, especially if the person doing the work is not knowledgeable about audio which is often the case.
If you only need 48k masters for a few songs and not the entire project, indicate that in the notes section below and the final price will be adjusted to reflect 48k WAV masters for just those few songs and not the entire project.
Choose one of these three options to give a rough idea of how much time you’d like between each song. This can be easily fine tuned throughout the mastering process as needed, but it helps to have a rough idea at the start of the project.
If you have specific transitions or gaps between songs that are needed, please include an mp3 file of the entire album/project as one continuous file with the song spacing and transitions as you’d like them to appear on the final master. The mp3 will be used as a reference or guide to sequence the actual mastered version and can be fine tuned as needed before finalizing the master.
Choose this option if you would like fairly quick transitions between songs. Leave any special instructions in the Additional Notes section below. Feel free to include a reference mp3 of the entire project as one single file to demonstrate any specific song transitions.
Choose this option if you would like roughly 2 seconds of space between songs. Leave any special instructions in the Additional Notes section below. Feel free to include a reference mp3 of the entire project as one single file to demonstrate any specific song transitions.
Choose this option if you would like longer than average pauses between songs (roughly 4 seconds). Leave any special instructions in the Additional Notes section below. Feel free to include a reference mp3 of the entire project as one single file to demonstrate any specific song transitions.
Choose this option if you already have the spacing between songs and transitions on your unmastered mixes dialed in EXACTLY as you would like them to be, and would like absolutely no more time added or subtracted between songs. If you choose this option, be sure that you have carefully listened to, analyzed, and prepared the actual files to be used for mastering (not reference files from your mix engineer as those can be different) to be sure there is no unwanted noises or dead space at the start or end of the actual files used for mastering. Leave any special instructions in the Additional Notes section below. Feel free to include a reference mp3 of the entire project as one single file to demonstrate any specific song transitions.
Spectral repair is a process that doesn’t always get much praise or attention, but can be highly effective and important in the mastering process. When listening to audio in a quiet, clear, neutral, and accurate mastering room, it’s not uncomon to notice any number of blemishes in a mix that may have gone unnoticed thus far. Digital recordings pushed to a high average loudness are prone to expose minor or even major issues in a recording when listened to carefully. The only way to be certain there are no blemishes is to listen to every single second with 100% focus in an accurate and detailed listening environment. While this comes standard with a regular mastering project, it must be considered an add-on option for the “light touch” mastering service due to the amount of time it takes to scan for any issues, and resolve them. There is no fast way to do it.
I would say that it’s very rare to master a project and not find at least a few minor issues that need to be addressed such as clicks, crackles, pops, ticks, thumps, bumps, saliva/mouth sounds, or other anomalies. Usually mixing engineers have many other more important things to focus on and some of these blemishes can sneak through to the final mix. Also, it’s common for people mixing in home studios with less than ideal monitoring situations to be unable to hear these issues. This is especially true for low frequency issues when using small speakers that don’t reproduce such low frequencies.
Choose this option if you would like your project to be scoured for any digital clicks, crackles, pops, ticks, thumps, bumps, saliva/mouth sounds, and other anomalies.
Please read this entire pop-up and acknowledge that this special reduced rate service is not intended to replace a full-scale mastering job. No analog equipment will be used. Each song will be processed digitally and given a “light touch” treatment (as needed and/or directed) to address any subtle or moderate tonal balance issues (EQ), as well as address any loudness concerns both globally and on a per-song basis to ensure that everything is sitting good before the project is manufactured, distributed, and released. Then of course, the master is properly formatted and rendered to all the various formats that are required for the release of the project.
To properly optimize a master for all formats such as CD (DDP), digital distribution, Mastered For iTunes, vinyl, cassette, and other formats requires a certain set of skills, knowledge, and tools that many great mix engineers and producers do not possess and are not aware of.
The main purpose of this service is to take material that has already been heavily processed and more or less mastered by the mix engineer (or automated mastering service), perform only minimal fine tuning as needed, and then finalize the master for each required format.
If it is determined that your project needs more than this “light touch” approach, you will be notified before starting as that can affect the total cost.
Mystery Room Mastering and/or Justin Perkins are not to be credited for the mastering of your “light touch” mastering project as in most cases much, if not all of the sound qualities are already baked in beforehand. This service is intended as more of a quality control process with minor sonic adjustments made as needed, and not a full-scale mastering job.
Choose this option if you would like Mystery Room Mastering to submit the final master for this project to the Gracenote Database. iTunes and other audio applications identify a CD by referencing the number of tracks on a CD and their respective lengths, and then searching the Gracenote Database for a match. More info HERE.
While CDs can contain CD-Text with the artist name/album title/song titles/ISRC codes and other info, iTunes cannot read any of this data directly from the CD it will show up as Unknown Artist/Track 01, Track 02 etc. until the CD is entered into the database by somebody. If your CD/project is not registered with Gracenote Database, users will not see any of the CD info that you typically see when you insert a known CD. This is normal and not an issue with the CD or mastering itself, it just means the CD hasn’t been submitted to Gracenote Database yet.
Submitting your CD/project to Gracenote Database is something you can do yourself at no cost, but if you’d like us to do it for you we can for a nominal fee as it does take time to enter the data with accuracy. You can read more about this and how to do it yourself by clicking HERE.
Projects are not submitted to the database by Mystery Room Mastering until they are 100% approved and finalized, so even if you check this option it will not be active until approximately 48 hours after the project is approved.