SRT - UK CD Manufacturing, CD Mastering, DVD Authoring, DVD Manufacturing, CD-ROM Manufacturing, 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound Mixing and Mastering Services.
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Audio Mastering

Audio MasteringModern technology means that today it is possible to make a CD at home on your personal computer. But if you decide to release that disc, how do you know it will live up to the standards of other products in the shops?

One way is to have the audio project professionally mastered. "Mastering" is often used to refer to simply creating a final disc, or "burning" it to a consumer CDR, but those "in the know" regard professional mastering, or post-production, as an essential part of the recording process and the final creative stage before manufacture. In fact many engineers will mix their projects with mastering in mind. Few people are aware that virtually every major-release Audio CD has been professionally mastered.

In it's simplest form, mastering is simply the creation of a high-spec production master , however, more often it involves a subtle but dramatic creative process, requiring great empathy and skill on the part of the engineer. Every track is assessed on it's own merits and treated accordingly, but at the same time are brought together to work as a "whole", to make an album a consistent listening experience. Still something of a "black art", we firmly believe that for the best results it should be performed by experienced professionals at an established facility, and our customer's comments support this.

We offer various types of mastering. The two most popular are :

Direct Transfer - a flat transfer from your digital source to a PQ encoded Exabyte DDP or 1630 Umatic production master. One of SRTs engineers will listen throughout the transfer to hard disc to monitor for any faults - e.g. clicks, dropouts, distortion etc, then PQ encode the material and write the production master. Contrary to popular belief, there are many things that can go wrong with even a flat digital transfer - in fact it's surprising how often we point out features our customers weren't aware of ! You will then receive a CD-R listening copy of the production master and a printed PQ sheet with any relevant engineers notes - this is the cheapest option. For an immediate quote, click here .

High-End Mastering - an experienced engineer will assess your source and advise you on possible improvements or enhancements to ensure that your project is the best it can possibly be. Mastering is always recommended if your material comes from an older analogue or "vintage" source, and / or from a variety of sources, for example a "best-of" or compilation album. After the sonic processes of mastering, the final audio is then PQ encoded and written to the production master (Exabyte or 1630 Umatic). You will receive a reference CD-R for your approval and a print out of the PQ sheet with any relevant engineers comments.

If you're not sure which option is best for you, read on! Alternatively, contact us for a personal assessment.

So you've spent days, weeks or months recording or compiling your project. Now the question is, how confident are you that it's absolutely perfect? Does it sound fantastic throughout? Are all the tracks at the ideal volume compared to one another? Are the gaps just right? There are no messy starts, stops; no annoying little clicks or slightly uneven fades? If the answer to all of these questions is "yes", you'll probably want what we term a direct transfer - if not, or if you know there are things you know you'd like to improve - a track which needs more bass, to be punchier or to have more life & air, or you're just missing that certain "something"... you may want to consider High-End Mastering. If your material comes from several different sources or is more than a few years old, it will almost certainly benefit from the extra care and attention we can provide.

SRT has years of experience providing post-production for a wide range of projects. (Click here to see some of our recent projects.) The sophisticated equipment we have available allows us to make adjustments to the level, EQ (bass and treble), dynamics, gaps and fades, noise-shaping - any aspect of your project - adjustments which can be so subtle they are scarcely audible, or so radical as to transform the sound almost beyond recognition.

Our experienced engineers can use their editing and musical skills to improve your audio if need be, whether it's removing noises like vocal 'plosives' or clicks, radical editing like changing the structure of a track for radio play, or reworking a start or ending. Our SADiE hard disc editors use what is known as 'non-destructive editing'. - This means that no matter how drastically your audio is altered, we can always 'undo' changes, go back a stage or two, or simply revert to the original version if required.

Audio MasteringAttended Sessions - Of course you are always welcome to attend the mastering session yourself, whether you're the artist, producer, manager or record company and work with one of our our engineers. This allows you to offer your opinion about any changes he feels may be necessary, and he'll be happy to discuss every option, and offer a professional, impartial opinion about the project as a whole. Our large studios provide a unique, comfortable environment and help you see your project in a new objective light. The perspectives gained here can be invaluable in shaping the final sound. Attended sessions are based on four hours for an album, or two for a single, but of coarse each project (and budget!) is individual so times may vary. Overnight accommodation before the session is provided as part of the Mastering/Manufacturing package if you need it.

For information on preparing a suitable source for direct transfer or high end mastering, or other technical queries, see the FAQ.

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