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Frequently Asked Questions

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Mastering FAQ

What Is Mastering?

Mastering is the final stage before a record is released to the public. Prior to mastering a recording goes through the tracking and mixing stages. Once mixed, the stereo mix is sent to a mastering engineer to apply the finishing touches to truly make the record "shine." We implement specific techniques learned and developed though many years of experience to achieve a desired result. For example, we can make a recording deeper, wider, taller, brighter, darker, warmer, louder, etc. It is our job to interpret the artist final vision and create an appropriate master that is optimized for all listening environments .

What Should You Expect From Mastering

Once a recording reaches the mastering stage, it has already been mixed to stereo format. Consequently, we do not have independent control over specific instrumentation. If we make an adjustment to one element of the sound, something else will be affected. For example if the vocals need to be louder, any adjustment to that frequency range will affect any other instrument that also occupies that frequency range. At New Alliance East, we have spent many years learning and developing the skills and tools needed to appropriately and artfully make these adjustments without compromising the overall sound. The end result is an improved sound that is rich, vibrant, and organized! We will work through three stages of mastering with you.

    1. In the first stage we will work with you to create a mastered version of your recording. Once created we will send these masters to for approval.
    2. In the second stage, we will work with you on any revisions that you feel would better suit your vision for your music.
    3. In the third stage, we will work with you to make sure that the track order, spacings, and fades between songs are all exactly the way you want. Once you have approved every stage, only then will we consider your masters complete and ready for delivery.

What Are Your Rates?

Please contact us for pricing and scheduling. We will do our best to work within your budget and provide you highest quality master!

Why New Alliance East?

New Alliance East has, and will always, put the needs of the artist first. It is the music that got us started and it is the music that will keep us going. We do not treat anyone's art lightly. We have immersed ourselves in music for many years out of pure love. It hasn't always been easy. There were times early on where we barely made enough to survive. But nothing could stop us, not even our own brains! It is this love that we bring with us to every session. We've come from humble beginnings and have built a successful and internationally respected mastering facility. And we won't stop until we either perish or our ears fall off! Why should you master with NAE? You should master at NAE because we care.

How Does Loudness Affect the Quality of My Recording?

The perceived 'loudness' of the final product is one of the most important considerations we think about on a daily basis in the mastering studio. Along with matching the volume and impact of each song within a record we are regularly referencing other mastered music to make sure that we make decisions that will pinpoint the perfect final sound for each specific project. The key is to achieve a healthy balance where the record is competitively loud but doesn't suffer from loss of musical dynamic due to over compression. One of the most common feedback notes we get from clients is: " We love the energy and dynamics but can you make it louder without changing or compressing it any more? ". The answer to that is yes and no. Because CD's can't be any louder than digital zero we are left with two options. One way is to compress it more and turn it back up to digital zero which can take away from musical dynamics and energy. The other way is to clip the audio or cut off the transient tops of the waveform so the audio can be louder which adds raw distortion to the sound. Over the last several years recorded music has continually been pushed louder and louder because in the short term, i.e. the first 30 seconds of the first song, louder appears more pleasing. But mastering too loud can also cause the listeners' ears to fatigue and leading them stop listening quickly, often before the first song is even complete. We strive to get the right balance of loud and dynamic for each project and are always willing to try to meet the creative vision of our clients! If you decide that you want your recording louder, we'll make it happen! The following site is a great resource for more information on the Loudness Wars: http://musicmachinery.com/2009/03/23/the-loudness-war/

Will You Run A Free Test Master

Unfortunately we are unable to provide test masters. Due to a heavily booked mastering schedule, we can only run test masters in between other projects. We would not feel comfortable providing a rushed test master that does not meet our standards of perfection. However, revisions are included in all mastering services. If you are not completely satisfied with your masters, we will continue to work with you until you are. We're not done until you tell us to stop making things awesome! … sometimes there's so much awesomeness in our masters unicorns appear and eat our shirts and shoes. That's why we have a rule at NAE—No Shirts, No Shoes, No Test Masters!

Will You Provide Mix Feedback

We are always happy to preview any mix and lend our thoughts and opinions to the engineer or artist. It is not uncommon for to us to be in contact with artist months before they master to help in any way that we can. We also love to remain in contact with artists after they finish mastering. Keep in touch and let us know when you are playing shows in the area. We love a good live show!


Preparing to Master with NAE 

How to Prepare Files for Mastering

If possible, please keep the mix files at the same bit depth (16, 24, or 32bit) and sample rate (44.1, 48, 88.2, or 96kHz) as the mix session.

It will also be helpful to have the following information at the start of the mastering session:

      1. A list of all songs in correct order
      2. All final song titles
      3. Album Title and Band Name
      4. Any sequence notes regarding spacing between songs
      5. Mailing Address and Name
      6. A song by another band that you think is an appropriate reference for the sound you're looking to achieve—mp3's are okay for this

Can I Provide You with References for Mastering?

We encourage you to send us references along with your mixes. This will help ensure that we stay on the same page during the process. A reference song should be appropriately chosen as an example of the sound you'd like to achieve. This can be an mp3 if necessary.

Can I Attend the Mastering Session?

We generally do not book attended sessions. Over the years we have found that we create better masters during unattended sessions and artists are generally happier with our work under these conditions. We make sure that every artist still has the opportunity to listen to the masters and ask for revisions before anything is finalized. There are no additional costs for revisions. We also welcome everyone to attend the sequencing portion of the process where track order, spacings, and fades between songs are all determined. In certain instances we will book and attended session, however there is a significant increase in cost.


Session FAQ 

Can I Attend the Sequence Session?

Yes! We welcome everyone to attend the sequencing portion of the process. This is where track order, spacings, and fades between songs are all determined. Once you approve the sound of your masters we will book time for you to come in and sequence with us. There is virtually no wait time for a sequence session. Sequence sessions can be booked Monday–Friday (8am–7pm).

Can I Ask For Revisions On My Masters?

We are happy to provide you with revisions to your masters at no additional cost! It is of utmost importance to us that you are completely satisfied with your masters, and we will work with you for as long as needed to make sure that happens.

Will You Mail Me Final CD Masters?

Yes! We can provide you with several formats for your masters. We can mail you final hard copy CD masters complete with PQ sheet for replication / duplication, or we can provide you with uploaded WAV files and PQ Sheet. We can also create DDP file sets! DDP's are most reliable method for delivering masters to a pressing plant for CD replication. It's also the fastest and easiest way since they can be uploaded!

Get your masters started today. Call Nick at 1-617-650-3148

We’d love to work with you on your next record! There is no project too small or far away. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do and how we can help you, contact us today!

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