Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Mastering?
Answer: Mastering is the final step in producing a professional album. The mastering process at Ethereal Mastering includes analog sweetening with EQ, surgical EQ with ultra clean digital Linear Phase EQ, leveling with advanced low ratio compression techniques, minimal peak limiting with advanced digital limiters, high quality dithering to 16 bit files and if needed world class sample rate conversion to 44.1 kHz audio. The album order and cross fades are also performed durning mastering. If the recording requires noise reduction we can perform this using some of the latest technology available. We can also encode the CD text and codes upon request. If you require a master CD to be mailed to you there will be an extra $20 charge for shipping and handling. Digital delivery in DDP 2.0 or .wav files are offered at no charge!
2. Why should I get my project mastered with Ethereal Mastering?
Answer: Ethereal Mastering isn't the only place to get your music mastered, however, we believe you will find our quality to price ratio very hard to beat. Your project will not only be competitive in overall "loudness" but great care will be taken in enhancing each mix individually. Fresh ears, good gear and passion for quality will always produce a better end result then a preset master setting at the recording studio. We stand by our work with a risk-free, money back, satisfaction guarantee and complimentary tweaks until you are satisfied. All this because we value the customers input and try to get behind the sonic vision of the project. Each project will be give our best effort, no stone left unturned approach to mastering. Basically, a song can take up to 3 times longer then a standard mastering studio because of our meticulous attention to detail. See more info:
3. What should I do to get the best master possible?
Answer: Mastering is not pure magic. A great master starts with a great mix! Take the time to get the mix right before you send it to mastering. Do not use any "mastering" plugins or processing on the mix buss in your DAW during mix down. Although this may help get the mix louder for your reference it WILL limit how much we can enhance your mix. We offer complimentary mix critiques for every project. Simply upload a mix to the dropbox and we will do our best to offer quick, detailed mix advice.
4. What file type do you need for mastering?
Answer: Ethereal Mastering can master any full resolution stereo file such as wav and aiff files. Note: Please use the resolution the song was recorded at. This means if you recorded at 44.1 kHz and 24 bit resolution, then your final stereo mix should be 44.1 kHz and 24 bit. Please avoid sending mp3 files for mastering.
5. What is Stem Mastering?
Answer: Stem Mastering is our premium mastering option for those who want the BEST POSSIBLE SOUND from their project. It is essentially a combining buss mixing, analog summing and mastering into one awesome post production step. For most projects, each song would include a Stereo Drum mix, a Stereo Instruments mix and a Stereo Vocal mix. Each stereo mix is known as a "Stem" in Stem Mastering. Once they are loaded into the DAW each stem can be treated independently with compression, and EQ settings optimized for each Stem. Then they are sent out of our BLA modified RME converters to our lovely sounding modified Yamaha RM 1608 recording console. Once in the analog domain, each stem can benefit from it's own stereo analog eq. Then stems are summed through the Analog Console and sampled back into the computer via high end A/D converters. Projects mixed in the digital domain can benefit GREATLY from this Analog summing process, providing greater depth, imaging, punch and general musicality then available through digital summing. Once the mix has been summed and resampled back into the digital domain the mastering process continues as in a standard stereo mastering scenario.
6. What are the benefits of Stem Mastering over standard stereo mastering?
Answer: There are several notable advantages with stem mastering. First, working with stems can result in a louder master while retaining the dynamics and integrity of the original music then standard mastering. This is due largely to the ability to apply different compression, eq and limiting settings to each stem. Secondly, mixes that would have been mixed down in a DAW will now benifit from Analog summing. Analog summing is widely known to increases depth, stereo imaging, punch and general musicality of any digital recording. Finally, when you choose Analog Stem Mastering you have the amazing ability to make fine mix adjustments during the mastering process, such as vocals up or drums down 1 dB. Also, it affords the mastering engineer greater ability to fix problems that may have snuck into the mix. Stem mastering offers many of the benefits of a full analog mix with a lower price.
7. Why does Stem Mastering cost more?
Answer: Analog Stem Mastering costs more simple because it takes more time. Basically, we master 3 songs within one and there is more "mixing" involved. Our price point on stem mastering fits squarely between our standard Stereo Analog Mastering service and a full Analog Mix. Stem Mastering at Ethereal Mastering is a unique service at our price point. Usually Stem Mastering costs much more in very high end mastering studios.
Don't just take our word for it- try out our service to see if it is a good match for you, with a complimentary, obligation-free one song test master any time.