Mastering FAQ

Procedure for Tiger Mastering

1. Send an email to order mastering or any other services.
2. Attach an MP3 320kbps to your email and get a free mix check
3. Upload your WAV file using WeTransfer
4. After free file check, you will receive a PayPal money request
5. You will receive a download link to the mastered song / file
The average delivery time is 7 to 14 days. Singles can often get express service.

Download
If you do not need to burn or replicate a CD you will simply receive a download link.
A downloadable DDP image is the preferred format used for CD replication. A DDP can contain ISRC and other codes.
ISRC – International Standard Recording Code
If your music is to be sold on iTunes, you need ISRCs. If your music is being played on the radio, ISRC is an advantage for identification purposes.

You get the first part of the ISRC from your local department of IFPI. The full code consists of the items below, and each song will be assigned a unique ISRC:
UK-ABC-14-001-01 (country-record label-year of registration-release-track)

The MP3 for the mix check must be sent at least three weekdays before a session to guarantee feedback, and the service is only intended as a guide.
The WAV file(s) must be uploaded in the correct format and ready for download the night before the session. Alternative versions must be delivered at the same time as the main version.

You can cancel a booking of a single track two weekdays in advance and five weekdays in advance for more than one track.

Preparing for Mastering

File Format
Stereo WAV or AIFF is preferred.

Resolution
24 bits.

Sample Rate
44.1 kHz or higher. Do not sample rate convert the mix yourself.

Headroom
The mix should peak below 0 dBFS.
Preferably a couple of dB of headroom before exceeding the digital ceiling.

Plug-ins On the Master Bus
If you are using plug-ins on the master bus then please make one version with, and one without, plug-ins. Limiting or clipping the master bus should always be avoided.

Normalizing
Do not use any kind of normalizing on your mixdown.

Fades
Do not fade out the file yourself but tell me where the fade should begin and end.

Start/End
Make sure you include the whole of the start and the end of the song when exporting.

Alternative Versions
Extended, edit, singback, etc. must all be otherwise identical to the main version.

Preparing for Mastering Part 2

Dithering and Noise Shaping
Do not use noise shaping or colored dither, e.g. UV22 or POW-r when exporting your mixdown for mastering.

Phase and polarity
Check to see if recorded drums are out of phase. Other common problems are synthesizer sounds with too much anti-phase and applying a fake stereo spreader. Check your mix in mono playback to see if sounds almost or entirely disappear because of inverted polarity.

Vocal levels
An uneven vocal is difficult to fix in the mastering process. Sometimes two compressors with a low ratio is better than one compressor with a high ratio. Even with correct vocal compression you often still need to do volume automation. Turn individual passages or words up or down until everything is smooth and clearly audible. Try listening at a low volume while adjusting the volume automation on the vocal track.

Sending Files Over the Internet
Before sending a file on the Internet you should pack it as a ZIP or RAR file to maintain data integrity. You can upload your file to your server if you have one using FTP client.

Projects With More Than One Song
If your project contains more than one song then send the first mix to me as soon as it is finished – before continuing with the next mix. In this way I can alert you to general mixing errors before you repeat them in the next mix.

ISRC – International Standard Recording Code
If you need ISRC on your master CD or in your MP3, please send the codes to me by email or in an attached document. ISRC can not be embedded into a WAV or AIFF file, only on a physical audio CD or a DDP disc/image – or in an MP3.