Client Supplied Master Requirements
by Dave Daw - chief engineer, Summit Sound Inc.

Mastering Fees

Summit Sound is able to accept your audio master in most popular formats. Recordable CD (or CDR) is probably the best way to supply your master, however, we can also upload your files to our FTP site or we can accept your audio master on DAT, or even on traditional 1/4" -15 ips analogue reels.

(All formats other than CDR must be converted to CDR by Summit Sound at extra cost.)

A c
ontinuously burned "Red Book Compatible" audio CDR with P&Q codes accompanied by a "print-out" of the song titles, sequence and track times is the best way to send us your master. If you don't really understand how to do this, it is best to leave the job to someone who does.

10 Steps to the Best Possible D.I.Y. Master

With a little thought, and some pre-planning, you can create a CDR master that should result in a good sounding CD.

While it is true that a reputable mastering facility (such as Summit Sound) can dramatically improve most masters; it is also true that many of the problems mastering rooms end up fixing, often could have been easily avoided or fixed even better at the mix-down stage. For example, if the kick drum needs more punch or the acoustic guitar needs more sizzle, the "right" time to do this is at mix-down, when you can fully isolate that instrument and EQ it alone -without affecting the entire bottom end in the case of the kick, or all the upper mids (including vocals) if you re-EQ for the guitar. Use your ears and some common sense and you can avoid an expensive lesson. At the least you should be able to keep levels consistent and hot. These items are not "rocket science" and any extra effort you make will pay-off in a better finished product.

1. Unless you plan to pay Summit to edit your master, make it EXACTLY the way you want it on a recordable CD with P&Q codes and a time accurate log print-out that includes all song titles and track times in the proper sequence. If you leave 2 minutes (instead of 2 seconds) between songs and the occasional count-in here and there, that's exactly how your finished CD's will be. Be careful! If you believe that your supplied master needs work tell us, otherwise you'll get a few hundred copies of exactly what you sent, your mistakes included. Supplying us a standard 16bit audio CDR, is the best and safest way to ensure the copies we make are exact "clones" of your master.

2. Record all levels as hot as possible without going over digital "O" and keep them consistent from song to song. There is a popular misconception that, because it's digital and you can't exceed "O " that you should leave a -15 to -20db buffer zone for transients. The truth is that for every 6db that your peak level decreases, you lose 1 bit of resolution. If you want to take full advantage of the 16 bits available on your final CD, keep your levels as close to "O" as possible (but NEVER over). A great tool to help you achieve this, is a quality stereo compressor/limiter.

3. Today most albums don't usually leave much space between CD tracks. (the audio CD Red book standard calls for 2 seconds, but you may deviate from this). Check-out some of your favorite CDs and you'll likely find something between 1 & 3 seconds between tracks... If we are doing mastering or re-sequencing for you, you must indicate the space you would like between tracks, or we will automatically make it 2 seconds.

4. When mixing, put on other similar styled CDs that you know are well produced and sound great, and A/B your mixes against these "reference" CDs. If you have access to a stereo spectrum analyser, this is an excellent tool to check the over-all frequency response of your recording as compared with your reference CD.

5. Burn your working mixes to a CDR and listen to them on as many sytems as possible to ensure that they sound good on a variety of equipment of differing quality. Compare CDs of some of your favorite music to your mixes on the same variety of systems, then adjust your working mixes, and/or re-mix, to ensure that your sound measures up.

6. For final CD burning, Mac programs such as "Toast" and PC programs such as "CD Creator" are satisfactory, but be sure to include a print-out of a time accurate CD master-log that shows all tracks, sequence, times, and spacing between tracks.

7. If you find that no matter what you do, you cannot match frequency response, sonic quality or overall CD volume of your mixes to the commercialy produced "reference" CDs you like, it may be time to consider some of the professional mastering services provided by Summit Sound. You will be amazed at the improvements we can make, and how reasonable the cost can be - We are always pleased to offer FREE mastering evaluations upon request.

If you are considering sending your master to another outside mastering facility, be very cautious about whom you trust. Remember that SUMMIT SOUND has over 34 years experience and is thus very well equipped to provide truly professional mastering services, including complex editing, frequency selective compression, noise reduction, EQing and overall loudness enhancement etc. Beware: not everyone with a computer, a BIG hard drive, and a CD burner is a mastering engineer... (we routinely see serious damage done to perfectly good masters by people who don't know what they are doing)

When it comes to your Production Master, never assume anything. Even if it's a "cloned" copy LISTEN to it before sending it out for manufacturing... The last thing you want is 5000 CD's with a digital "Glitch" in the middle of one of your songs... We want happy customers, so for your own benefit, PLEASE take the extra time and care to do things right the first time!

ALWAYS KEEP A BACK-UP "CLONED" COPY Of YOUR MASTER... couriers have been known to lose masters, so don't take any chances!

Summit CD Mastering Packages
Customized Professional Mastering Services at Summit Sound are biiiled by the song, plus master & client reference CDRs @ $10.. All packages include printed log sheet with P&Q codes, embedded CD text & ISRC Codes (if applicable).

Gold or Platinum Mastering Packages at 1/2 price with CD orders of 500 or more. If additional time is required for further revisions after initial mastering is completed this is billed at $100./hr.

Silver Package 1
Mastering - general clean-up, compression all tracks get same treatment
Package Price with reference CD for client approval................................. $30./song 

Gold Package 2
Mastering - clean-up, individual track compression and EQ
Package Price with reference CD for client approval................................. $50./song 

Platinum Package 3
Mastering - clean-up, advanced individual track adjustmentm compression and EQ
Package Price with reference CD for client approval ................................ $70./song

Summit Sound provides a free consultation service on your master, and can recommend the proper mastering services (along with cost estimates) to ensure a professional finished product.

If you have any questions call us toll free at 1 800 403-9755 or e-mail to:
Summit Sound Inc, 184 McAndrews Rd. POB 333, Westport, ON K0G 1X0.