What File Types Do You Accept?
We prefer to work with 24-bit or 32-bit files, but we accept any combination of bit and sample rates, and virtually any file type, though WAV, AIFF, and FLAC are the most common.
Please supply your files in their native sample rate. Don’t upsample or downsample them from whatever your mixing DAW has set.
Also, Converting up from 16 bit or MP3/Lossy format, if the file has been made thus, will not gain anything. Please try to stay at 24bit or 32bit float throughout your process.
Files we will provide once you approve the masters:
How Much Headroom?
Avoid sending songs that have been squashed using limiter plug-ins. In mastering, we can get it just as loud, and usually much louder while retaining more punch and transient clarity, should this be your goal. Bypass any plug-ins that exist on the main output channel that you are using solely for loudness.
That’s not to say you should remove everything on the master channel, just the final limiter. If there are plug-ins on the master channel you love, such as compressors or EQ’s that you feel contribute to the songs character and feel, by all means leave those there! But it’s important that you don’t clip the master channel, not only to allow us room to work, but also to allow for as much clarity as possible in the finished product.
This is often confused with headroom, but DR is about the somewhat short term average loudness as compared to the absolute peaks of the material. This can be measured in the short term by RMS meters, but most use LUFS meters for this purpose now. A great dynamic range is usually at or greater than -12dBFS (LUFS). See this chart for info: Dynamic Range Tips
Track Notes or Requests:
It’s helpful if you can point out anything specific about the songs you’d like addressed that you couldn’t accomplish in the mixing stage. Include these in the track-notes section of the pre-mastering checklist we will email you. If there are drastic problems you can’t get around in your mix, let’s talk about mixing or doing mastering from group stems.
Stem 1: Percussive elements/Drums
Stem 2: Bass instruments
Stem 3: Guitars, lead synths, etc.
Stem 4: Lead vocals and chorus
Stem 5: Background vocals or secondary synths
Stem 6: Background layers, incidentals, random 1-off sectional changes, etc
Preventing issues in stem mastering:
Out of all the relationships you will build in your musical journey, none can bear more fruit than working with someone who cares just as much about your project as you do. If you feel like you can’t find anyone to match your tenacity, you need to meet Thaddeus at Liquid Mastering. We are so thankful to have connected with him early in our career; we cannot recommend him enough!
INTERNET & STREAMING FORMATS
Digital Distribution & Streaming - What File Types will I need to upload to my distributor?
At LIQUID MASTERING, we use the best possible sample rate conversion currently available, and this will ensure your streaming masters sound their absolute best. Please use the supplied 16-bit 44.1kHz master/s for these services.
Apple Digital Masters (Formerly Mastered For iTunes)
Liquid Mastering is an Apple approved supplier of “Apple Digital Masters”. If you’re selling and streaming your music on iTunes and Apple Music and would like to take advantage of Apple’s optimized Apple Digital Master format, you’ll need to supply us with 24-bit mixes. Ideally, the sample rates should also be higher than the standard 44.1kHz with 96kHz being preferred, but currently, only the 24-bit specification is mandatory. We’ll retain this high resolution through the entire mastering path, and carefully prepare the masters according to the Apple Digital Masters specification. Masters created for this format can be up to 1-2dB lower in volume to account for inter-sample-peaks (ISP’s) and clipping which can become distortion during playback of the AAC format. Put simply, files prepared in the Apple Digital Masters format will play distortion-free, providing the end-listener the highest fidelity in a lossy format.
YouTube currently streams everything at 44.1kHz, so if you’re uploading just audio, it’s best to upload a 24-bit 44.1kHz file to avoid further sample-rate conversion. However, if you’re uploading a music video, which are commonly created at 48kHz, we’ll supply a 24-bit 48kHz master for the video editor.
Like all streaming services, SoundCloud uses a lossy compression algorithm for its streaming audio that has the potential to create audible distortion and crackling during playback. If you plan on uploading your masters to SoundCloud, we can prepare a special set of files to ensure you’re getting the highest-fidelity that is distortion free. Like Apple Digital Masters (MFiT), these masters may be slightly lower in overall level.
Thaddeus has been great to work with. Being on different continents communication is crucial and he’s been brilliant every step of the way. Awesome final mastered product as well! Highly recommended
It’s standard practice to always get a test-pressing so you can hear exactly how the record will sound before you’ve had a full order pressed. This can be an opportunity to revisit the mastering or lacquer cutting to correct issues that may not be apparent until we near the end of the process.
Our vinyl masters are supplied as a 24-bit single Wave file for each side of the record. With Vinyl, you want no more than 24 min per side, or it will lose low end definition on the last few songs. Sometimes, it’s best to arrange the tracks differently than the digital version, to have the ones you want for most impact first on each side of the LP.
CD Pressing Houses Requiring DDP
After hearing some of Liquid Mastering’s other work, I knew where I wanted my project to be mastered. With a careful ear and a commitment to excellence, Thaddeus made sure my project got what it needed to sound it’s best. He loves music and it is important to him that things sound great. Plus he’s a hell of an individual too. I highly recommend him for your mastering needs.