Mastering Project Cost Calculator
mp3 Streaming Option
Choose this option if you’d like Mystery Room Mastering to set up a custom page to stream an mp3 version of your project’s initial master and all revisions. This will be a private page that can only be accessed using a special link that you’ll receive. A page like this 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 mp3 stream page is for promotional needs leading up to and during the launch of the project. 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.
ISRC Code Generation
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/Apple Music software on a computer. See HERE for more info on how CD players and music playback software like iTunes/Apple Music and Windows Media Player will identify your CD.
ISRC codes are not required for a CD release, and are not required to be embedded in the master WAV files for digital distribution. If you do not have ISRC codes at the time of digital distribution, your digital distributor will create them. However, this means the codes will not be on your CD master (if applicable) and they will also not be embedded in the master WAV files that you receive from Mystery Room Mastering.
Having Mystery Room Mastering assign your ISRC codes ahead of time and embed them where possible 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 digital distribution. These codes will also be embedded in the master WAV and mp3 files for music licensing, future-proofing, and other miscellaneous things. All of which can simplify things.
If you have Mystery Room Mastering assign and embed codes, please note that at this time, digital distributors (such as DistroKid, CD BaBy, TuneCore, etc.) do not read the embedded codes or any other metadata directly. You will have to manually enter the info for each song and release. If you Mystery Room Mastering assign and embed codes, you’ll receive more info as well as the codes in a spreadsheet view to help with this process.
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 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.
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 needs.
There is also an iOS DDP Player that you can use, but at this time there is not an Android option.
Apple Digital Masters
Choose this option if you are doing an official Apple Digital Masters release and you will receive master files that qualify for an Apple Digital Masters release. An Apple Digital Masters 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 an Apple Digital Masters release.
If you are doing a standard Apple Music 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 Apple Music release.
The base mastering rate provides you with a few different file formats for digital distribution. Most digital distributors such as DistroKid, Tunecore, and The Orchard now accept 24-bit/high sample rate master WAV files, which is something you’ll be provided with automatically.
You’ll also be provided with 16-bit/44.1k sample rate WAV files, which is unfortunately what you have to provide if you use CD Baby for digital distribution at this time.
CLICK HERE for more info on formats.
You will also receive reference mp3 files that are tagged with metadata and the cover artwork (if available). These files are useful for direct sharing with others (friends, family, promotion), as well as for download cards that often come with vinyl and cassette releases because the download card hosts do not convert the audio like digital distributors and streaming services do. They simply host the files you provide to them.
24-bit/High Sample Rate Vinyl Pre-Master
These are 24-bit WAV files prepared at the native sample rate of your mastering project (or 96k 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 are retained in the cutting process.
The files will be sonically optimized to translate to vinyl as well as possible. The lacquer cutting engineer 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.
mp3 or m4a Reference Files
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.
Do you need a physical master CD-R?
You probably do not need a physical CD-R, but a handful of CD manufacturers and vinyl 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 a DDP for CD production.
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.
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.
USB Archive Option
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 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 $40 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.
Maintain or conserve original dynamic range.
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.
Make it loud!
Choose this option if the main objective of your mastering session is to achieve a loud master, without regard to how the streaming services may end up turning it WAY down anyway. Generally speaking, the louder the master, more compromises to the dynamic range, transients/clarity, and sonic characteristics must be made as the level is pushed to extremely loud levels.
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.
Find the sweet spot.
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. Now that most (but not all) streaming services have loudness normalization turned ON by default in the mobile and desktop apps, it’s becoming more common to choose this option because the loudness in which your music is played back is now managed by the app, and mastering something extremely loud can result in it being turned down more than 5 decibels.
Choosing this option will result in a nice balance so that your release is at a healthy level in non-normalized situations, but still retains some punch, dynamics, and clarity knowing that in a growing majority of cases, the streaming service app will control the final playback level for the listener anyway. This option allows us to do what’s best for your music, rather than potentially damaging it to arbitrarily compete with the extreme loudness of something else.
CLICK HERE to read more about perceived loudness vs. technical loudness.
48k WAV Masters Optimized And Formatted For Video Use
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 which is typically at 48k.
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 unfortunately is often the case with video editors.
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.
Song Spacing Option
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 what your preference is.
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 only 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, fades, etc.
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, fades, etc.
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, fades, etc.
No Additional Space Needed (choose carefully)
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. Reference files from your mix engineer can be different than what is submitted for mastering, so be sure there is no unwanted noises or dead space at the start or end of the actual files used for mastering. Listening carefully on headphones before uploading your files for mastering is highly recommend.
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, fades, etc.
Gracenote Database Submission
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, Apple Music/iTunes or Windows Media Player 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 72 hours after the project is approved.
Target Completion Date
Please let us know when you need to have this project 100% ready for production and distribution. Ample time will be allowed for reviewing the initial master and requesting any potential changes, so please use this date to indicate when the project needs to be finalized and ready for production and distribution, not when you’d like to hear the initial master.
It’s common for projects 5 songs or less to be ready for approval within 4-7 days, while projects 6 songs or more may take up to 7 to 10 days for an initial master ready for approval. This really just depends on the timing of your project and the current workload.
If you need an ultra fast turnaround, choose “Rush Service” in the “Other Options” section above.
Feel free to email mysteryroommastering(at)gmail.com to discuss any deadline specifics.
TV Mix Masters/Radio Edits/Alternate Passes etc.
Check this box if you are also supplying TV mixes or alternate mixes of your songs to be mastered such as radio edits. 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 if they need to be done at a later time.
How many songs
Simply enter the number of songs involved with your project. The price per song decreases as the number of songs increases. For example, the base price for 1 song is $80, but the base price for 10 songs is less than $800.
Simply enter the total time of your project, or a rough estimate.
If your project is especially short and/or simple, please leave a message in the “Additional Notes” section about having it considered for a discount. Sometimes a discount can be offered when projects have especially short songs, or all the songs were recorded and mixed at the same time and have the same instrumentation for each song, which tends to allow things to go quicker.