FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

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Mastering Questions
What is mastering and why do I need it?

Mastering is the final but crucial step in the music production process. In short, mastering helps to make your tracks sound as good as they can be before you release them to the world. Without getting too technical, mastering puts the final sheen on your music – adjusting the levels, overall EQ and balance so your tracks are ready to be played. Mastering engineers use a wide variety of professional digital and analog processing tools to put these finishing touches on your music. In addition, sometimes mastering engineers are asked to add fades, do track edits, and make all the levels consistent for a group of tracks.

Should I pre-master my tracks?

No! Pre-Mastering actually makes it much, much harder for us to do our job. Mix your tracks down and leave them AS-IS. Do not run them through any plugins or outboard gear such as: compressors, finalizers, limiters, maximizers, effects, normalizers, etc.

What is headroom and how much do I need for my tracks?

Headroom is the amount of audio level available before digital clipping will occur. For mastering, your tracks should leave at least 4db of headroom. In other words, the highest peaks of your tracks should go up to -4db. Do not mix your tracks all the way up to “0”! With no headroom you are severely limiting what we can do at the mastering stage while killing all the dynamics in your music. What’s more, it is imperative that you allow headroom so that your tracks “breathe” – the levels on your track should have movement, not crunched up to the max. Tracks recorded with some breathing room are actually perceived louder than tracks that are maxed out. The headroom gives us space to make any necessary adjustments relative to the rest of your track.

Should I use compression on my individual tracks? On my whole mixdown?

There is no hard and fast rule for using compression in your tracks but when in doubt use compression sparingly. Many of the results people are trying to achieve with compression can be facilitated with adjusting the level, eq and pan of the individual track. Try working with those elements first. As a general rule, you should never add compression to the master fader of any track. Doing this can cause unwanted “pumping” of the audio as well as unnatural peaks and valleys during breakdowns and these cannot be corrected with mastering. If you are unsure, do a couple mixdowns for each track: one with compression on your individual tracks and one without. Be sure to notate this in the file name for each mix so you can compare the different versions.

What audio format and sample rate should I use?

Submit tracks at the highest bit depth and sample rate. We prefer tracks recorded at 24bit/44.1k but we can accept tracks all the way up to 24bit/96k. 24bit/88.2k is ok too. Even though the final destination of your tracks may be a 320kbps MP3, starting with the best audio resolution ensures the highest quality all the way through the mastering process. Use 24bit for recording whenever possible. If you have older tracks recorded at 16bit/44.1k, don’t upsample them to 24bit – leave them as-is. There is no benefit to upsampling audio and in fact, this can add dithering and audio artifacts that degrade your tracks. We accept WAV and AIFF files. Don’t submit mp3 files, AAC files, FLAC files, OGG files or any other compressed audio files – even ones that are “lossless”. These will be rejected. For an in depth discussion on bit depth and sample rates, go here: http://www.tweakheadz.com/16_vs_24_bit_audio.htm

I’m not happy with the mastering job. What should I do?

We want you to be happy with your tracks. Send us an email or a note on the Contact page and let us know what you don’t like and we will make it right. Include as much information as possible (Label, Catalog Number, Artist, Title) so we can find your project.

Upload Questions
I’m ready to upload my project, what do I need to do?

We’ve tried to make these steps as easy as possible. Make sure you label each track in a clear and concise way. eg: Artist_Track(Remix)_Label. [For example: Flubbertron_TheMagicTrack(DJSmasherRemix)_BubbleRecords.wav]. Include a text file (txt, rtf, doc) with any instructions in your zip file or use the form on the Upload or Home Page. Finally, place all your project files together in a .zip archive (up to 2GB) and label the zip with: LabelName_CatalogNumber_Artist_Title. Go to the Upload or Home Page, enter the basic details for your project, select your zip and upload! That’s it. Alternatively, you can enter the URL with a login/password where we can download your project.

I get an error when I try to upload my files – what should I do?

Make sure you are uploading a zip file that is under 4GB. For single files, .wav, .aif and .aiff are also allowed. Also, make sure there are no spaces or special characters in the name of your file. Numbers, letters, underscores, parentheses and dashes are allowed.

I’m waiting on a remix for my project, can I still submit it?

Please wait until you have all your mixes and submit only completed projects.

I have 5 releases to be mastered – can I upload them as one zip?

No. Please upload one project at a time and help us keep everything organized.

High Bias Plus Questions
What Is High Bias Plus?

Upgrade to High Bias Plus and get flat-rate mastering credit blocks at deep discounts. Save up to 43% off our regular rates when you buy credits in advance – that’s as low as $20 per track! Perfect for labels that have a steady release schedule or for anyone who wants to get the best possible deal. With credits in blocks of 16, 25, 50 or 100 – you can choose the option that is right for you and your budget.

When you buy credits with High Bias Plus, not only will you start saving immediately, you’ll also lock in today’s prices and enjoy the convenience of not having to pay on a per-project basis. What’s more, your credits never expire and you can upgrade your plan at any time for even bigger discounts. In addition, High Bias Plus Gold, Platinum and Diamond levels include free dub/instrumental mastering. See High Bias Plus Plans & Pricing »

I removed a High Bias Plus plan from my cart but when I went to another page it still shows up on the top right. What is going on?

On rare occasions, the page cache may not update immediately after you remove a product from your cart. The product is actually removed but it is just not showing as removed in the widget cart on the top right. Clearing your browser cache should fix this or if you are logged in, logout and then back in again and this should solve it. In any event you can ignore this.

Client Questions
How do I set up a Client account?

Once you’ve uploaded your first project, a free Client account will be created for you. You will be emailed your login credentials and the link to your private Client Page. Alternatively, if you’d like to set up an account before you upload, please contact us.

What is on my Client Page?

Your Client Page lists all your projects with download links so you have access to your mastered files at any time. In addition, High Bias Plus members can check their credit balance and see their order history. Note that recently purchased HBP credits may not be updated on Client Pages immediately.

Where can I download my mastered files?

Once we’ve completed your job, you will be emailed a notice that your files are ready. First-time clients will also be given a login and password which you will use to login to a personal client page. You can log in on the top right of the site. Upon login you will be automatically redirected to your page where you will find all of your project downloads. Right click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac) the file names to download your project files. You will be asked to enter your login/password again to start the download. Note that only you can see your personal client page. For future projects, you can bookmark your client page so you can go directly there to download your files.

Question not answered here? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you.