FAQ

Q: What is Mastering and why do I need it?
A: Mastering is really two things. The first step of the process is making your music sound as good as it can. Careful spectral and dynamic processing can bring out the best qualities of your mixes. The second step is creating a master that works best for the way your audience listens to music. Whether it’s for digital distribution, CD, Vinyl, Film, TV or Broadcast, the right master will make your music sound its best wherever it’s heard.

Q: Does RFM have experience with my style of music?
A: Yes! With more than 30 years and 6,000 albums of mastering experience, I’ve worked with every genre imaginable. My clients cover the musical spectrum. Whether it’s pop, rock, alternative, jazz, blues, country, classical, dance, club, electronica, R&B, hip hop, rap, acoustic, folk, world or any other genre you can think of. From major labels to indies, from well known artists to local garage bands: you name it, I’ve mastered it.

Q: My studio engineer says he will master my record. Why should I use RFM?
A: There are many reasons most records are not mastered in recording studios by mixing engineers. Look at the credits on your favorite CDs or LPs. You’ll find that the vast majority were mastered by full-time mastering engineers in dedicated mastering facilities. Mastering is as different from mixing as building a sports car is from driving it. Different disciplines require different skills. I can offer a fresh perspective on your mixes in a reference listening environment. You only get one chance to hear it for the first time, and that can make all the difference.

Q: What does RFM need from me to complete the mastering process?
A: I can work with whatever format you’re mixing to. If you’re mixing to a digital format you can bring/send a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, hard drive, flash drive or use the File Upload tool on this site to send the files electronically. All formats are accepted – with a preference for high resolution interleaved .wav or .aif files if possible. If you’re mixing to analog tape, please make a backup and bring/send the ORIGINAL reels.

Here’s a list of information that will help in the process:

It’s also important to include any other notes that will help communicate how you want your music to sound.

Q: Most CDs show titles on my computer by mine does not. Can RFM help?
A: Yep. Media players like iTunes and Windows Media Player access on-line databases that store information for thousands of CDs. After I have mastered your CD I can upload your artist and album information so anyone who buys your CD will see the titles on their own computer.

Q: What is an ISRC and why do I need it?
A: It stands for International Standard Recording Code and it is a 12 character alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies each song on a CD. I can help you get this code and include it on your finished master. For a more detailed explanation, go here. http://usisrc.org/

Vinyl Specific Questions:

Q:One of the fist questions people ask is “can I use my CD master for vinyl?”

A:  The answer is a solid “maybe.” If sibilance and other high frequency elements are well under control, there was not a lot of limiting done to the master and it has round, analog-like waveforms then it’s probably fine for vinyl. OTOH, if it’s excessively bright and/or it was heavily processed for loudness then it will be better to use a version that’s been optimized for vinyl. Some things that sound fine on a CD can sound bad very quickly on vinyl. Sibilance, high frequency mix elements and clipping create extremely jagged waveforms and a groove cut from a jagged waveform is difficult for a playback stylus to track. When the stylus loses contact with the bottom of the groove the result is tracking distortion. It’s most obvious on vocal SSS sounds but can also happen on cymbals, effects or anything with excessive HF content.

Imagine the waveform is a smooth winding road and the stylus is a sports car. The car can handle the curves and stay on the road. Now imagine the road is full of potholes. The car bounces over those holes and it’s a rough ride. That’s what happens to a stylus on a record cut from a jagged or distorted waveform. And now imagine you’re driving a 1978 Pinto on that road. That’s roughly the equivalent of a lot of cheap turntables these days.

Vinyl is an exaggerator. If there is tone on the source there will be more tone on the vinyl. If there’s distortion on the source there will be more distortion on the vinyl. That’s the way it works. It’s a mechanical, analog format where the shape of the groove is the sound of the record.

Recommendations for Mixing for Vinyl:

 

LLB Equal 1LLB Bass

LLB Level

 

LLB Length

 

For a pop / rock type sound, anything up to about 18 minutes on a standard 12” 33 1/3 LP side will sound great, 22 minutes is pushing it and 24 is really the max you want to go. The longer you go the less bass and level the record will have. Quiet songs or songs with very little bass will push that time out a bit. Excessive level or bass content will reduce the time. You get the idea. Here are my recommendations:

 

12” 33 1/3 RPM:

12” 45 RPM:

10” 33 1/3 RPM:

10” 45 RPM:

7” 45 RPM:

7” 33 1/3 RPM: