"These guys worked really quickly to turn my track "Alpha" back around."
"Black Ghost Audio really came through in a big way, no one has ever made my songs sound this massive!"
Mastering is the process of creating a master copy of a song from which all other duplicates of the recording are made. For vinyl distribution, this means creating a vinyl lacquer master, and back in the day of CDs, this meant making a glass CD master. With streaming services now dominating the music industry, the digital file that you upload to said services is referred to as the "master file."
If you've ever tried to export a song from your digital audio workstation (DAW), you've realized it's not that hard, and that almost anyone can do it. This begs the question, "Why do I need a mastering engineer at all?"
Well, a mastering engineer will be able to provide your music with a second set of unbiased ears, they'll be able to audition your song in a near-flat response listening environment, and they'll be able to apply tasteful stereo buss processing to enhance the quality of your mix.
While the role of the mastering engineer has somewhat changed over the years, they remain just as relevant as ever. Mastering suites like iZotope's Ozone will work well enough for demos, but to reap all the key benefits that true mastering offers, a professional mastering engineer is required.
Apple runs a program called 'Apple Digital Masters' (formerly 'Mastered For iTunes'), which is an initiative that allows engineers to preserve the highest audio quality possible when encoding masters for digital distribution through Apple Music.
By remaining up-to-date on Apples' formatting requirements, we're able to provide our clients with masters that follow the 'Apple Digital Masters' formatting guidelines. The specific formatting requirements are as follows:
• Source File Type: WAV
• Source File Bit Depth: 24-bit
• Source File Sample Rate: Minimum 44.1 kHz
• Master File Type: WAV
• Master File Bit Depth: 24-bit
• Master File Sample Rate: 44.1, 48, 88.2, or 96 kHz.
• Masters must be auditioned as encoded by the current Apple AAC encoder using the "Apple Digital Masters Droplet" or "RoundTripAAC" plugin.
• Audible clipping caused by excessive levels to the encoder can cause Apple to reject the audio file and abstain from labeling it as an 'Apple Digital Master.'
• The PCM audio of the masters from the mastering house must not be altered.
To upload your songs to Apple Music and have them labeled as 'Apple Digital Masters,' you must use an approved music distribution company like Distrokid. You'll need to submit a request to Distrokid and inform them that your music has been mastered via an Apple-approved Apple Digital Masters mastering house.
When you submit a request to Distrokid, choose "Managing Music and Profile in Stores" as the category, and "Enable Mastered for iTunes" as the Managing Music - Topic.
Once enabled, you'll be asked to provide the name of the Apple-approved mastering house, and the email address of the mastering engineer who mastered the project. Please input the following information if you've used the Black Ghost Audio Mastering Service:
• Mastering House: Black Ghost Audio
• Engineer's Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: You can't replace an existing Apple Music release with an Apple Digital Master. You'll need to delete your existing release and then upload the Apple Digital Master to Distrokid. Keep in mind that this process will delete the release from all stores, and not just Apple Music.
Yes. Every project that gets submitted to us is listened to and mastered by our in-house audio engineer, Charles Hoffman.
The issue with automated online mastering services is that there is no human element involved; artificial intelligence is used to make processing decisions. As much as mastering is a technical process, a machine will never know what "feels" good.
Mastering engineers are relied upon for quality control, audio sweetening, and their aesthetic judgement. By having a real person master your music, you benefit from the expertise and subjective opinion of a trained professional.
There are three potential reasons for this:
1. "Sound Check" is enabled in iTunes. This setting automatically adjusts song playback volume to the same level. If a song has been heavily compressed and limited, "Sound Check" will cause iTunes to reduce its playback volume. To disable this setting, navigate to iTunes > Preferences... > Playback.
2. The dynamic range of your track is too broad. Dynamic range is a standout amongst the essential components to consider when attempting to accomplish loudness. The techniques we use to achieve loudness are much more efficient on tracks with a small dynamic range, compared to tracks with a vast dynamic range. Loudness is prepared for on a mixing level and executed on a mastering level.
3. The streaming service that you've uploaded your song to has reduced the playback level of your audio file. Many streaming services normalize songs based on their Loudness Units Relative to Full Scale (LUFS) value. This value is calculated based on how dynamic your song is, and it can be manipulated with master buss processing like compression. We put audio quality at the forefront of our mastering process, while taking LUFS into consideration along the way.
Client satisfaction is our top priority, and we'll do everything in our power to provide you with a product that meets your standards. If you require revisions, please contact us.