We differentiate between three general mastering styles, Broadcast, Dynamic and Natural. Each style is linked to a set of unique sonic characteristics.
Alternate Versions and 4 Pack
Alternate versions are often required for further music licensing purposes. The widely required versions include Vocal Up/Down, TV-Mix and Instrumental. It is highly recommendable to prepare a Vocal-Only mix as well.
Separation Mastering / Stem Mastering / Bus Mastering / Mix Mastering
The 4 Pack, as mentioned in the versions section is already a form of the Separation Mastering or Stem Mastering approach. Mix Mastering, as the technique is also often referred to in the music world, takes stem or separation mastering to a higher level. Instead of providing just a full instrumental mix (or TV-Mix) plus main vocal, each song is being divided into many more stems or submixes, offering the option of leveling the majority of elements of the song independently, in other words allowing the mastering engineer to mix the song with regards to the specific needs for mastering. This allows for a perfect master.
Dynamics and Compression
When preparing for mastering, only subtle dynamics processing should be used during mixdown. Dynamics processing includes any form of sound compression, limiting and expansion. There is a simple rule you can follow. Do not use any dynamics processing unless it is essential to the specific sound. Also do not use any compression or limiting on the sum / master bus, better leave it completely to the mastering engineer. During mastering the engineer can alter the overall dynamics more precisely and elaborately using top notch analog and digital compressors.
Psychoacoustic processing includes any form of stereo widening and phase shifting. As phase problems are very difficult to fix, better avoid using any psychoacoustic processing during mixdown, again this excludes any form of creative use for effects essential to the specific sound, but never use any form of psychoacoustic processing on the entire mix / master bus / sum. The overall stereo width and spread is being optimized during mastering, but with subtle care and knowledge of all side effects and with the use of high-end equipment only.
Bit depth and Sampling Rate
In regards to bit depth and sampling rate, it is advisable to use the highest available bit depth (24bit or 32bit float) and a sampling rate best suitable for your final medium. Double the sampling rate of the target medium would be the best suitable sampling rate for the project. For example for a CD project at 44.1kHz the optimal sampling frequency would be 88.2kHz, for a DVD Audio project at 96kHz the optimal sampling rate would be 192kHz. This is due to the conversion quality being best when divided by two. For the digital market most projects are currently driven on systems running on 24bit/96kHz.
All popular file formats in any configuration can be accepted and processed at SUPREMEMASTERING™. Nevertheless we highly recommend sticking to the most commonly used file formats, such as AIFF (.aif), Wave (.wav) or Broadcast Wave (.bwf). Those formats ensure highest quality and compatibility. Mixes and stems should be delivered as stereo interleaved files, although dual-mono files can be processed as well, but are simply not as convenient to work with.
Often regarded as a minor aspect, file preparation, in fact represents a major element of the mastering process. For us to work effectively and have all necessary files quickly at hand, we ask you to sort and name the files in a logical order. This is especially important for stems of certain mixes. The best approach is to set up a folder structure in your file browser. Later this entire folder can be dragged and dropped and uploaded to our server as it is.
Your prepared project folder or compressed archive can be uploaded to our server via our easy to use, fast and reliable web upload box. The applet uses advanced FTP technology, therefore file security is fully ensured. There is no loss of quality, the uploaded files represent identical digital copies of your originals. Our current upload limit is set to 2GB per upload. Should your project exceed this limit, please contact us and we will arrange for the files to be picked up and delivered to us via postal mail.