Frequently Asked Questions
Can't anyone with computer master a CD?
Anyone with a computer and CD burner can digitally master a CD, but this is an important phase of a project that should not be overlooked. Mastering is the last chance to make a difference in terms of the quality and presentation of your recording. More than a decade of experience combined with the best in analog and digtal gear make Gench the sound choice for the mastering of your music. Put that experience to work for you at a modest price, and to your complete satisfaction.
How long have you been doing this?
Gench has been in the CD mastering business since 1992, with tracking and mixing experience since 1988. Although Gench has gained a reputation working in the experimental music and noise genres, we have also mastered a great deal of projects in the realms of metal, rock, prog, jazz, Brazilian, Celtic, spoken word, EDM, R&B, folk, hip-hop, pop, and orchestral soundtracks.
How quick of a turnaround should I expect?
Typically our schedule is open and quite accommodating. Most projects are returned electronically or via post within a matter of days after their arrival. Rush orders can also be arranged. Simply confirm availability ahead of time and provide the funds for next day shipping. A rush project could be completed and back to you within 2 business days. It is preferred that projects be received and returned electronically with free services such as WeTransfer.
Is Gench a CD duplication house?
No, we leave duplication and physical manufacturing to those companies who do it best. Gench dedicates its resources to achieving the best sound quality for your CD and LP premasters.
Should I compress, limit or normalize my mixes?
No. Always try to mix as hot as possible, but avoid making the stereo mix sound bigger or 'better' by way of digital compression, brick-wall limiting and/or normalization. These techniques should be reserved for the final mastering process. Mastering will have a far more dramatic result if your source material has a degree of headroom (even if only a couple dB). Most importantly, avoid brick-wall limiting your mixes, as it diminishes the overall affect of outboard tube compression typically applied during the mastering process.
Should I expect a miracle?
Miracles can happen, but if your track is in such dire need you may consider trying a new mix, if possible. Sometimes a new mix might be impossible and you have to work with what you have, and in this case amazing results can be achieved with today's digital tools. Keep in mind that corrective work such as noise reduction, EQ morphing and click removal can be time-intensive, which could add additional costs to the project. (as intensive corrective and noise reduction work goes beyond the standard mastering treatment and is billed at $100/hr), but the results are usually worth the effort.
Should I fade in or fade out my mixes?
Not if you can help it, but don't worry if your mixes already contain fade ins or fade outs. Just keep in mind that re-fading any existing fades during the mastering process may slightly affect the contour of the original fade.
Should I make any special preparations for tracks needing noise reduction work?
Yes, try to leave all of the noise intact before and after each piece, do not edit the noise or fade it out. Ideally, tape noise, surface noise, and or whining tones need to be isolated so they can be analyzed and applied again against the track itself.
What are your rates?
Hourly rate is $100. Standard project rate is $595 for a full-length CD or digital master; $495 for LP premaster, and $395 for an EP length CD or dig master (typically under 30 minutes and 8 tracks or less). Corrective work is billed at $100 hour, and can be added to the standard project rate, if needed.
What cannot be achieved in mastering?
Digital glitches, clipping and distortion are often not possible to remove. Tasks that would normally be considered part of the mixing process, such a adjusting levels between instruments or vocals, are typically not possible during mastering (at least without spending a great deal of time and money). Typically it's not possible to bring out elements of a stereo mix without affecting other aspects of the mix. For example, bringing down the frequency of a kick drum may also affect the level or clarity of the bass guitar, or reducing the mid-range of a mix may in turn exaggerate the high-end, and so forth. The mastering process can sometimes address such issues, however these corrective and time-intensive procedures are not included as part of the Gench standard project rate. As always, the better the mix, the better the final master.
What do you mean by corrective work?
Processing-intensive work that concentrates on noise reduction (removal of tape hiss and/or clicks and pops), precision digital EQ treatments, frequency morphing (morphing the frequency spectrum of one track to another). distortion removal, removal of high frequency whines (15 kHz), and other time-intensive processes and specialized tasks.
What does Gench expect of its clients?
Most of our clients submit their material electronically via services such as WeTransfer. Good communication is vital. It's best to provide copious notes for each track denoting any details or ideas to help improve the mix or corrective work that might need to be applied. How does the material sound on your stereo system? Is it too hissy, boomy, thin, brittle, cold, dark, harsh? Don't hesitate to verbalize in any terms. Detailing the spacing between tracks is also preferred. In general, please try to avoid normalization, compression and brick-wall limiting in your mixes. These processes should be reserved for the final mastering.
What does the mastering process entail?
It's the last stage of the production process. The stage to make a difference in terms of the sonic contour and and nuance of your work. Mastering is also the stage to unify the tracks across your record: to smooth out transitions, match track levels, create fade ins and fade outs, add spacing between tracks (pregaps), crossfading tracks and placing track indexes. Mastering is not a time to "fix it in the mix", but to highlight each track and optimize the record for playback on the average listener's stereo system. These days most productions are produced in the digital realm, which can lead to a cold, closed and sterile sound. Gench specializes in adding warmth and openess to your tracks with a strict attention to detail and professional results that you can stand behind. Premastering for vinyl is a similar process CD mastering, but takes into account and compensates for the limitations of the vinyl medium (avoiding potential high and low end distortion, correcting phase issues, etc.). Gench does not cut acetates nor does plating, but premastering your record with us will result in better fidelity by providing a consistent sounding premaster from beginning to end, and with corrective work and sweetening applied individually across each track.
What does the project rate entail?
It's the full standard treatment including corrective digital equalization, outboard broad-band tube equalization, outboard tube vari-mu compression for sweetening and punch, digital brickwall-limiting for optimized signal levels (read: loud and clear). Optimization of track levels, fades ins, fade outs, track spacing and track indexes to exact specifications. Final delivery for a CD master includes DDP (Disc Description Protocol) files, Red Book Audio CD-R master and safety copy, and a complete track time listing (PQ Log). Final divliery of a vinyl premaster includes a WAV file comprising each side of the record, WAV files for each track on the record, and a track sheet for each side. All standard postage, handling and media costs are included as part of the project rate along with the return of any original materials (DAT, CD, etc.). Most importantly, Gench guarantees a job done to your complete satisfaction.
What should I expect?
Good communication is vital. It's best to provide copious notes for each track denoting any details or ideas to help improve the mix or corrective work that might need to be applied. How does the material sound on your stereo system? Is it too hissy, boomy, thin, brittle, cold, dark, harsh? Don't hesitate to verbalize in any terms. Detailing the spacing between tracks is also preferred. In general, please try to avoid normalization, compression and brick-wall limiting in your mixes. These processes should be reserved for the final mastering.
Which audio formats are accepted?
Electronic delivery of WAV files is preferred. Zip your files into a folder and send them to mastering at gench dot com via a free service such as WeTransfer. Accepted physical media formats are: USB memory sticks, CD-R, CD-ROM, DVD-R, DAT, cassette and 1/4" reel. Accepted file formats (on Mac or Windows-compatible media) are: WAV, AIFF or SDII at 32, 24 or 16-bit with sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192 kHz. Media via USB, fireware, and Thunderbolt hard drives is also accepted.
Why should I have someone besides myself master my project?
It's always a good idea to enlist an objective set of trustworthy ears for the final stage of your project. Gench experience, outboard gear, credentials and track record insures that the vision of your project becomes a reality and with high sonic integrity.