Frequently Asked Mastering and Audio Production Questions

Mastering is a final stage of production - AFTER mixing - to prepare audio for release. The main goal is to ensure that the audio playback is well-balanced in tone and volume to optimize clarity across a wide range of speaker systems. Generally this involves the careful use of EQ to shape the audio's tone and compression to control the overall perceived volume. (and sometimes none at all) To effectively master audio, a critical listening environment with highly detailed speakers, amplification and room acoustics is key. Most studios that offer "Mix and Master" services are using mixing environments that are NOT designed with this task in mind, and will often provide much lower quality masters as a result.

DDP (Disc Description Protocol) is a format for specifying the contents of a CD. While often referred to as a DDP "file", it's actually an archive containing everything that goes onto a CD including audio, track layout, CD-TEXT meta-data, and more. A DDP file is a complete lossless master copy of the CD, suitable for electronic delivery to replication or duplication houses. DDP files have taken the place of CD master reference discs (But we still produce reference discs upon request).

ISRC ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique international identification code for your recording. ISRC codes are per track - a 10 track album would have 10 individual codes. They are widely used by digital distribution companies (like iTunes, Spotify, etc) to identify recordings and track royalties. ISRC codes can be obtained independently, although the process can be confusing and expensive ($95 registration). However, 2Track Mastering is a registered ISRC manager, and we can provide codes for tracks we master at no additional charge. (Need a code for a track we didn't master? We can issue those too for a nominal $2 fee)

We can accept any audio format for work, but there are suggested guidelines that will ensure your project's quality. First, a lossless format (such as WAV or AIFF) is highly preferred over a lossy format like MP3. This is because MP3 encoding discards audio information that cannot be recovered. While it may not be noticable in a high quality 320k MP3, it will certainly be noticable in lower-quality MP3 conversions. Second, don't convert the audio bit depth or sample frequency before sending your original files. 24bit (or 32bit float) files have more dynamic range than 16bit files, but if you didn't record and mix at that bit depth, send it as is. Same with the sample frequency - a 96kHz file can contain much more detailed high frequency data, but if you recorded/mixed at 44.1kHz don't upsample your final mix. We can accept files up to 192kHz.