PDF Vinyl Application 101 (Mastering Vinyl Application)

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These stampers are sort of the molds that create your records, like the masters these have ridges instead of groves and these ridges press the grooves into your record. Time Constraints At URP we strongly suggest limiting the amount of music you put on a record to help insure that you get a quality product. Cramming too much music on a side can really lower the quality of your record and increase the possibility of damage or sound issues.

However, if your music is fairly bass-heavy, you may want to shoot for a maximum of per side in order to insure optimal sound quality. The reason for the different times is basically the trade off of space versus quality. More audiophile recordings are coming this way and are sacrificing a little convenience by spreading the material over two LPs in favor of sound quality.

Rhino was smart with the way they did it, making both available since there are the two different schools of thought. These numbers will sometimes help trace back where a record was mastered or pressed. They often contain the song titles too.

The Basics of Vinyl

A little known fact about record labels is that they contain no adhesive, but are pressed into a record while the vinyl is hot and the hot vinyl essentially melts into the pores of the paper keeping it in place. Most sleeves these days are plain white ones with a hole so you can see the label. Some folks splurge on custom sleeves with art, lyrics or liner notes on them. Although there are lots of options for jackets, there are basically two standards — the single pocket and the two pocket gatefold, both of which are made of cardboard.

Stickers are printed and applied to identify the record, key singles, barcodes and such. Colors There are lots of cosmetic options for your records. The other school of thought is folks putting an emphasis on the lead content present in most black vinyl. Black vinyl does indeed contain a small amount of lead and it very well may play a part in the sound differenc- es. Free CD Inside? Will it Warp My Records? When the first creative folks got the idea to include a free CD inside a vinyl record there was a bit of a scare that the presence of the CD warped the record.

Initially it was a valid concern as most records are still cooling a bit when placed into the record jacket and the presence of the CD against a warm record did cause warping but trial and error got most folks over that hump as just changing the process a bit and allowing the records to cool more all but eliminated the problem. Some vinyl jacket vendors have jackets with pockets made specifically for CDs and a few of them are designed in ways that drastically reduce the chance of it warping.

Could it be the change in vibration or something…? Maybe, I wish I could tell you. Etched vinyl is an unplayable side of a record that contains no music but has an image pressed into it which has sort of a frosted appearance.

Mastering Tips: The Benefits of Mid Side Processing

In the case of Portishead they used an etched vinyl image as the B-side to one of their recent singles. In the case of Willie Nelson, he had too much music for a single LP but not quite enough for a double so he pressed three sides of music but used an etched image on the 4th side. In Closing… There are lots of things to consider before pressing your records.

Make sure you promote your features color, etchings, downloads , on your website, sales sheet or stickered on the jacket as it can really make a difference to consumers… I know it does to me. The Basics of Vinyl. Does Vinyl Really Sound Better? Our Playlist.


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We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Having metadata embedded in your WAV and reference mp3 files can also be critical when used for music licensing so that whoever is using, or considering using the material has access to potentially critical details such as ISRC codes, songwriting, publishing, etc. Always start with the highest resolution file available and acceptable for the format in which you are distributing your music. Up-sampling a Once a file size is reduced and encoded to mp3 or AAC, you must go back to the source to retain the quality of your original master.

You should not convert mp3s into WAV files in order for them to be used for online distribution.

owner and chief mastering engineer

An mp3 is to audio as a grainy, pixilated image is to photography. Once the data is stripped from a high-resolution file, it cannot be brought back. Even though you can technically convert an mp3 back into a WAV file, you will still have a loss in quality compared to the original WAV file.

This loss of quality is particularly noticeable in the high frequencies, resulting in a swirly, underwater sound depending on the size and bit-rate of the mp3. The same is true regarding 24 and bit files. This is why the files you receive from your mastering engineer should require no further processing or adjustments. After your mastering engineer provides WAV files for uploading to online distribution and streaming services, even if they have tagged those files with metadata, expect to submit the artwork and other metadata separately as you submit the audio files for online distribution.

The distribution service you use will handle the metadata tagging that is seen by the end user based on the info you enter, and what is supported by the end file format. The most universal concept is to leave enough peak-headroom to avoid clipping after the streaming services convert your master WAV files to a lossy format mp3, AAC, etc. Most mastering engineers are now familiar with this concept but for those who are self-mastering, or not familiar with this concept, here are a few tips:. Leaving up to a full decibel dB of peak-headroom on your master WAV files can help prevent clipping and overs when the WAV masters are reduced to a data-compressed format, which is inevitable.


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  6. However, setting the output ceiling of your limiter to -1dB is probably a good balance between safety and loudness for most applications. You upload your master WAV files and project details to the aggregator just one time, and they take care of the details regarding getting your music into the distribution channels of your choice. Most professional mastering software can export a mastered project to DDP format very easily. Most audio playback and CD burning software programs have settings for adding extra space between tracks, and some programs have settings that can alter the sound quality and overall levels which can be easy for users to overlook, resulting in an inaccurate listening experience.

    This can lead to problems with song sequencing, incorrect CD-Text, lack of CD-Text, and in some cases the audio itself can be altered if files are handled improperly. This is ideal because the listener will be listening to the exact same file that would be used for CD replication and most online distribution services. DDP is especially useful when the mastering engineer and client are not in the same location because a DDP file can be transmitted via the Internet quite easily.

    ISRC codes are not essential for CD and vinyl releases, but your songs will need ISRC codes in order to be sold on the iTunes Store, as well as other online distribution channels and streaming services. Some aggregators can generate ISRC codes for you if needed when you set up online distribution.

    Fees may apply depending on your method of operation. Vinyl: Ideally, your vinyl pre-master is one bit or bit floating point WAV file for each side of the record, at the native sample rate of your mastering session. Some vinyl manufacturers may request that your audio masters be sent on an audio CD-R. Only use an audio CD-R for vinyl production if absolutely necessary due to manufacturing limitations.

    Using a 3rd party lacquer cutter can greatly improve your final product. Lacquer cutting is the first and arguably the most important step in the vinyl process after your master leaves the original mastering studio. You typically have a more open line of communication with a 3rd party lacquer cutting engineer vs. This is a big reason why results are typically better when using a 3rd party lacquer cutter.

    This means that any fixes will likely require major back-tracking and could be costly and delay your order. When using a 3rd party lacquer cutter, once you approve the reference lacquer, the production lacquer s are cut and shipped off to the pressing plant of your choice for the remainder of the process — possibly with a stop in between for metal plating depending on who you are working with for the actual pressing.

    You will also want to be aware of how long your sides are for vinyl releases. With vinyl, there are no hard time limits as we have with a compact disc. Each pressing plant and lacquer cutter has their own suggested maximum times for sides, but generally speaking, sides will sound better the shorter they are, and short sides can usually be cut louder than long sides.

    Long sides are susceptible to distortion inner groove distortion , graininess near the end of the sides, and the overall level of the sides will likely be on the quiet side. Some manufacturers will not guarantee sound quality after exceeding a certain time.

    Why Master?

    For the vinyl pre-master, it may be worth removing songs from your album or shortening some songs to avoid long sides. The longest side usually determines the overall level and tone of the entire record, so creating the shortest, most even sides will produce the best results in most cases. Low-frequency content also plays a role in how loud the record can be cut. Skilled lacquer cutting engineers can sometimes produce good sounding records at long lengths, but the results usually vary depending on the source material and person doing the cutting work.

    Maximum times for sides are posted for a reason and should be taken seriously if you care about the sound quality of your vinyl. You can read an article I wrote about the importance of lacquer cutting for vinyl by clicking here. Mastered For iTunes: Only mastering studios that have been certified by Apple are allowed to provide masters for Mastered For iTunes releases.

    This is why careful testing must take place for each song within each project to qualify as Mastered For iTunes compatible. Every second of every song must be analyzed through the encoder to test for overs and the proper headroom must be set to avoid these overs throughout the course of the song, or complete album. Offline encoder checking via Sonnox ProCodec is, in my opinion, the best way to check for post-encoding overs with repeatable results.

    Using tools that run in real-time on playback do not provide repeatable results when it comes to overs. The most common method to prevent clipping and overs when your mastered WAV files are converted to a compressed format is lowering the output ceiling of the final limiter in the mastering session to a certain point in order to leave enough headroom for the file conversion and data compression process.

    It was eventually discovered that Typically, you want to lower your output ceiling as little as needed, but just enough to prevent these overs when converted to mp3 or AAC. The optimal setting is dependent on your specific material and the target compressed format. Lower quality mp3s tend to clip more easily than higher quality mp3s.

    There are a variety of tools that a mastering engineer can use to know how a master will react to a certain mp3 or AAC encoding. Sonnox Codec Toolbox has a standalone version as well that can run on its own outside of any other audio software.

    The Mastering Guide to Audio Formats and Delivery Mediums (UPDATED: )

    This can result in a more pleasing sounding file for the end user that purchases your music via iTunes, as well as other stores and streaming services. The Mastered For iTunes theory can be applied to most of the online distribution channels as well. There is not a realistic way to test exclusively for all the various encoders your music could encounter.

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