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, jazz, brazillian, celtic, spoken word, techno, r&b, folk, rap and pop.
How quick of a turnaround should I expect?
Typically our schedule is open and quite accomodating. Most projects are returned 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 3 business days.
Is Gench a CD duplication house?
No, we leave duplication to the folks who do it best. Gench dedicates its resources to achieving the ultimate in sound quality for your music.
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, brickwall limiting and/or normalization. These techniques should be reserved for the final mastering process. In fact mastering will have a far more dramatic result if your source material has a slight degree of headroom (even if only a couple dB). Most importantly, avoid brickwall limiting your mixes, as it diminishes the overall affect of outboard tube compression 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 are be very time-intensive, which could add significant costs to the project (as these corrective processes go beyond the standard mastering treatment included as part of the project rate), but are usually more than worth the results.
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 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. Project rate is $595 for a full-length CD, or $395 for an EP length CD (typically under 35 minutes, under 8 tracks). 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 impossible to remove. Also, 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. Yes, the mastering process can sometimes address such issues, however these corrective and time-instensive 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?
Many of our clients submit their material by mail, so 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 essential. In general, please try to avoid normalization, compression and brickwall 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 by.
What does the project rate entail?
It's the full standard treatment including corrective digital equalization, broad-band tube equalization, tube compression for sweetening, 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 includes a Red Book Audio CD-R master and safety copy, complete track time listing, and the return of any original materials (DAT, CD, etc.). All standard postage, handling and media costs are included as part of the project rate. Most importantly, Gench guarantees a job done to your complete satisfaction.
What should I expect?
Good communication, professional service and excellent results. Good ears and years of experience combine with the right gear to get the job done to your complete satisfaction. Expect a detailed, warm and open sound. The better your mix, the better the final master. Don't expect mircales, although we've pulled off our fair share in the past. Artist-friendly service with a quick turnaround.
Which audio formats are accepted?
Accepted media formats are: CD-R, CD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DAT, cassette and 1/4" reel. Accepted file formats (on Mac or Windows-compatible media) are: WAV, AIFF or SDII at 24 or 16-bit with sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192 kHz. Media on SCSI and fireware 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, credentials and track record insures that the vision of your project becomes a reality.