BASELINE AUDIO LABS MASTERING
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES AND MASTERING INFORMATION:
Please read the information below in order to help me do the best job I can with your music
BEFORE THE MASTERING SESSION:
Send an e-mail, or include the following information at a minimum in your submission package:
Artist name exactly as you want it to appear in the CD-Text or metadata file fields
Album name or release/project name
Final song order/track listing
If planning for a vinyl release, please note where side A and B split. (If you are not sure about this, I can help)
A list of the format(s) it is being released on (CD, vinyl, cassette, digital distribution, etc.)
ISRC codes (if you are choosing to include them on the master CD, I am an ISRC manager and can provide these if you do not have them, they are optional but encouraged)
IMPORTANT: Make sure the spelling and capitalizations are exactly as you want them to appear. Also, note if there are any files that may have a working title or old name rather than the new name.
Feel free to include any notes about song transitions/crossfades, the spacing between the songs, or preferences about song spacing.
Album artwork file (JPG, PNG, etc.) to be included in the metadata of the audio files
Catalog number of the release
Other helpful information you may include:
What do you like about your recording/songs? Are there things that you don't like or weren't able to fix in the mix if any?
Any known issues/noises/etc. that I might need to address?
What are some records, comparable to your music, that you like the overall sound of?
Do you prefer loudness over dynamics, or would you prefer dynamics over loudness? In other words, do you want a super loud record or one that breathes a bit more? There is no right answer, just your preference. There's also the option of multiple versions depending on the delivery medium. (louder for CD, more dynamic for streaming, super dynamic for vinyl, etc.)
Anything else related to the overall sound of the record that I might want to know?
Any notes about count-ins, stick clicks, talking, feedback, or other noises at the beginning or end of any songs that should be removed or left in (inevitably, if you want them in, I’ll remove them, and if you want them removed, I’ll leave them in, causing more back and forth)
DELIVERING YOUR MIXES FOR MASTERING
WeTransfer is my preferred way to receive files. You can upload files via http://baselineaudio.wetransfer.com
Alternatively, you can share Google Drive files with me via email@example.com
Please zip the files up into a single package before sharing with me, preferably in the following format: ARTIST_NAME_PROJECT_NAME.zip
Once you have your files shared with me, also send me an email letting me know this. It’s OK to e-mail me a direct link to download a zip file from another service, but please don’t use any services that require me to sign in or make an account just to retrieve the files.
IMPORTANT: Please do not submit MP3s or Audio CDs.
Audio CDs are not appropriate for mastering for several reasons; the only exception is if this is the ONLY available source. Submit your mixes on a DATA CD, DATA DVD, hard disk, SSD or flash drive, etc. If your files have ever been on an audio CD, make every effort to get the raw, unmastered files directly from your mix engineer as once the files have been burned to CD or converted to MP3, there is no way to get the resolution or quality back.
If you prefer to mail your submission (DATA CD, DATA DVD, Hard Drive, SSD, flash drive, etc.), please send it to:
Baseline Audio Labs
PO Box 2871
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-2871
Please send via Priority Mail, and send the tracking information to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. If using FedEx, UPS, or other international couriers, please send an email to the above for an alternate address.
Submitted final mix files can be either .wav or .aif files (wave or AIFF)
Files should be stereo (interleaved)
32-bit floating-point audio files are strongly preferred, or 24-bit audio files with proper dithering as a second choice, 16-bit files are acceptable only when 32-bit or 24-bit files are unavailable, or the original recording/mix session was done at 16-bit to begin with.
Sample rates up to 192k are accepted. The preferred sample rate is at whatever the original mix is printed or whatever sample rate the recording session is at. (Don’t upsample to 96k or 192k if the original session was at 44.1k or 48k, this is unnecessary for the mix engineer)
Please do not submit files that have been “pre-mastered” or normalized in any fashion. I need files that have enough headroom to allow me to do my mastering work. It’s common for a mixing engineer to give you a reference mix that’s been run through something like an L2, Finalizer, or Ozone on a “loud” preset in order to provide you with an idea of how your mix will sound after mastering, but you should remove these processors from the master bus before final mix bounces are done. Once this “quickie mastering” is baked into a file, there is little that can be done to undo that. It’s not a case of simply turning it down and mastering from there. There are technical reasons why this is a poor choice.
If you or your mix engineer thinks that this sound is integral to your mixes, we can discuss this, and I’d ask that you submit both the unprocessed version as well as the processed version so that I can replicate what you’re hearing, but also take care of the other parts of mastering. I likely have better or equal tools to achieve what the mix engineer was attempting. If there’s a particular plugin that you think is imparting a distinct sonic fingerprint to your mixes’ sound, I’m happy to discuss that with you or your mix engineer and see how I may recreate or replicate that.
If you have questions about this, we can discuss you sending a sample file to check out and see if it’s something that I can work with.
AFTER THE MASTERING SESSION
After the initial mastering session, I will provide you with a link to listen to or download reference files for approval. At this point, we can discuss any changes/revisions, and the cycle will repeat until you are satisfied with the reference masters. Once the reference masters are approved and finalized, I will generate all the various final masters and supply you with the following:
High-resolution WAV files (24-bit, up to 96k)
Low-resolution WAV files (16-bit, 44.1kHz ) for submission to CD-Baby and other services requiring 16-bit files
DDP file-set for CD replication
320k MP3 files
High-resolution files for vinyl (if needed, see special note below)
CD-R (tested CD-DA, guaranteed to be within Red Book spec for CD replication or duplication, subject to additional cost for burning, testing, and mailing)
Apple Digital Masters or Mastered for iTunes(sometimes shortened to MFiT, subject to additional costs)
In the case of a DDP, I am happy to assist in uploading this to your CD manufacturing plant of choice. I highly recommend this over submitting a CD-R to a manufacturer as the DDP format is not susceptible to the errors that a CD-R is. It also saves money and significant time over mailing discs.
SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT VINYL MASTERS
For vinyl masters, I will prepare one high-resolution file for each side of the record. Unlike audio CDs, vinyl itself has no practical limits on bit-rate or sample rate, so rather than reduce your music to CD quality and then transfer to vinyl, the preference is to keep things as high resolution as possible as well as leave more dynamics and headroom for the vinyl cutter to work with in order to make the best sounding vinyl master possible. The reason I make one file per side and submit that to the vinyl cutting engineer is to assure that the spacing between the songs or that the song order won’t get changed accidentally. I also include a PDF file with all the song information and times, so the vinyl cutter knows where each song is starting and stopping.
If other file formats
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT REVISIONS/ALTERNATE MIXES
The quoted mastering fee includes at least two revisions, as needed; however, I will likely charge an additional fee for rework beyond a few revisions. I will let you know when this additional fee would come into effect and be transparent with you so that you know what you will be subject to cost-wise. If, after reviewing the original masters, you decide to submit new mixes, these may be subject to additional fees. Again, I will be transparent and will let you know when additional costs are involved.
After the masters have been approved, I will send you an invoice to the email address of your choice, where you can pay via credit card.
If paying by check, please remit to:
Baseline Audio Labs
PO Box 2871
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-2871
If you prefer PayPal, send payment to PayPal ID: email@example.com
If you have read this far, thank you very much, and I look forward to working with you on your project and making it sound the absolute best that it possibly can!
Updated: Nov 2020