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What is mastering?

Mastering is the art and science of enhancing an audio recording to a state of maximum musicality, sonic clarity and technical perfection.
It involves balancing, equalising and processing tracks to bring out the very best in them as well as ensuring that they sit well together as a whole. It requires state of the art analog and digital equipment, a perfectly controlled acoustic environment and a mastering engineer with experience.

Can I hear an example of your mastering with my music?

Absolutely. Upload a project, and a track of your choice will be mastered and delivered to you before any payment commitment.

What file type should I upload?

A zip file containing wave or aiff files at the highest bit depth and sample rate available. For example, if you have mixed at 24 bit resolution, keep the final mixes at 24 bit rather than mixing down to 16 bit.

Are my files secure?

All file transactions (uploads and downloads) take place within a password protected area that is fully 256Bit Encrypted HTTPS authenticated by SSL. Your files are secure.

How should I prepare my mixes?

Avoid using compression, limiting or preset ‘mastering plugins’ on the master bus if at all possible. If you are using such processing and feel it is an integral part of the sound then feel free to send two versions of the mixes. Also, try to have your mixes peaking no higher than -4dB.

How long will it take?

Once a project is uploaded, mastering will usually commence within two working days, although it can be quicker than this. The length of time a mastering project takes depends on the number of tracks and amount of revisions required. As a guide, a ten track album can usually be turned around in two to five days.

What if I want to make any changes?

Revisions are free of charge. Do bear in mind however that if you want a Garage Band demo to sound like U2 there’s only so much mastering can do for you…

What will I receive at the end of the day?

A choice from:
-Digitally delivered 16 bit 44.1kHz wave files that you can burn on to CD yourself or send straight to a digital distributor.
-A master CD and reference CD through the post.
-A DDP file delivered either digitally or on CD or DVD via post.

Can you create DDP files?

Certainly, and a DDP master is great way to deliver a project to a duplicator. Hark! will be more than happy to digitally deliver a DDP or burn one to CD or DVD and pop it in the post.

What are ISRC codes?

ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code and is a system that allows sound recordings to be uniquely identified. Each track will be encoded with an ISRC so that the track can be clearly identified in future. This particularly helps with royalty payments.
For further information click visit ifpi.org

My mixes are on 1/4 inch tape, can you work with that?

It would be a pleasure! We have two professional 1/4 inch tape machines in the mastering studio and can easily make a high quality digital transfer and master your project.

Can you record my digital mixes to 1/4 inch tape?

Would be delighted to. This works very well for some projects but isn’t for everything.

When do I pay?

Once you’re happy with the first mastered track. The rest of the project will only proceed when you’re absolutely satisfied with the direction the mastering is going.

How do I pay?

Hark! will issue an invoice by email which will need to be paid before the rest of the mastering can continue. It will be a Paypal invoice but you don’t need a Paypal account to pay as you can simply use your credit or debit card. Paypal is one of the most secure payment methods available.

Why online audio mastering?

Traditionally, audio mastering was usually done with the artist or band present in the room. While this can be great for communication during a mastering session, it almost always ends up being more expensive. By using the internet to transfer mixes and masters to and from a professional mastering studio (‘e-mastering’ or ‘online mastering’) you can receive the same quality of service at a fraction of the price.

More questions? Send us an email