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Vocabulary for Mastering

Here are some definitions of terms used in the mastering process. Knowing these terms will help you convey your needs more successfully. These terms have been defined for the layman and are general definitions. If you need to know more, e-mail us at: info@terranovamastering.com

This is the step between final mixing at your recording studio and the manufacturing of your CD or DVD. Mastering is the enhancement of the sonic quality of audio. The goal of mastering is to maximize the full intent of the artist and to make the volume levels and frequencies work together for a cohesive collaboration. Ambience and enhancement are worked through converters, compressors, equalizers, and software, all designed specifically for the mastering process. Mastering can be achieved through analog or digital, or a combination of the two.

Most common mistake: Using the word "mixing" and "mastering" interchangeably. The definitions are totally different, and represent completely different phases of production. Mixing is done at a recording or mixing studio, and is the step BEFORE mastering. If you have a project that needs to be mixed, contact us for references.

This is the final mastered format of a project, and are referred to as CD-R PQ MASTERS. These masters are for manufacturing (duplication and replication) only. Masters are not always compatible with all playing devices, and are not meant to be played, other than for proofing one time through prior to manufacturing.

A glass master IS NOT A CD master! This is a stamping master made at the CD manufacturing plant. This is what is used to stamp out the duplicated or replicated CD's at the plant. Glass masters are not made at the mastering studio. The CD master that you get from the mastering studio is the format used to make the glass master.

This is referred to as a "ref ". A reference disc is a CD that is burned at a high rate of speed (16x), and is not a CD master. A "ref " is never to be used for manufacturing. "Refs" do not have any codes, CD text, neither have they been through our quality control checkpoint. These can be played in any CD player.

After the project is mastered, the mastering engineer will know the times of each track exactly from the computer data. Each master will be in a case, along with the timing sheet. The timing sheet needs to remain with the CD master to go to manufacturing. You will also need to make a copy of the timing sheet for your graphic designer, so that they can insert the times for each song on the CD insert artwork.

This term refers to the medium that the audio is actually on. (Ex: CD, vinyl, analog tape, etc.)

This is a clone of a CD. A one-off CD is NOT A CD MASTER! Never send a one-off CD to manufacturing, as the error rate is not correct for manufacturing and the manufactured CD's will be riddled with errors, glitches, and the data coding will not be present.

These digital codes must be present on a final master. These codes include
information embedded in the data of the master, so that the CD's that are manufactured from this master can be "read" by all CD players.

See "About CD Masters"

This is a data base of album information that is accessed by such programs as iTunes, Windows Media Player, and WinAmp to display album info on computers. The information in such data bases is not furnished by the CDDB, it is LINKED to CD's that have had CD text embedded in the masters by their mastering engineers, and that info appears on the manufactured CD's. The client is totally responsible for all information for the CD text. The mastering engineer inserts the information that the client provides for the text.

International Standard Recording Code. An electronic tag attached to each individual audio track. The ISRC codes are embedded in your final masters by the mastering engineer. The client must apply for these codes PRIOR to the mastering session. We do not have these codes! These codes are not required by any agency. It is only an option for the client. Please go to this website to apply: www.usisrc.org. When you receive your code, please bring, send, or contact Terra Nova staff with your code. We will need the code for the mastering session to embed in your masters. 

Universal Product Code or BAR CODE. The familiar bar code that we see on almost every product label. If you wish to have your bar code embedded in your master, please provide the mastering engineer with your code at the time of mastering. Contact your CD manufacturing plant or your distributors about providing a UPC code for you. We do not have these codes.

The RED book is the most widespread, worldwide CD standard and describes the physical properties of CD and digital encoding. When you receive a CD master from Terra Nova, it is a RED book standard CD master. It comprises the following: audio specs for 16 bit PCM disc specs, including physical parameters, optical stylus and parameters, deviation and block era rate, modulation system and error correction, control and display system (ex: sub codes channel).

This CD master is left "open" specifically for adding to video. Frequently requested by clients that will be having a video made using the mastered audio of their CD master.

This is a service that we have offered for years. For a small fee, (charged per project), we will "back up" the mastered version of your project in our DVD data archive files. It will remain stored in our files indefinitely. The person who actually PAID for the mastering of that project can contact us for another master. In other words, the mastered version is OWNED by the person who paid for the mastering. No one can access this service except through Jerry or Diane Tubb, NO EXCEPTIONS! So take care to know this fact and act accordingly. We have a high security firewall on this service.

The client must let us know at the end of the session if they wish to participate in the service. If the client chooses not to participate, we will not have the backup and the client is responsible for their own CD master.

If the client needs a new master of their stored project, regular rates apply to burn a new CD master. Any project stored prior to 2003, an additional fee will be charged for retrieval, in addition to the fee for the new CD master.

If the client wants our engineers to alter the CD master in any way, regular hourly rates apply for the alterations and the new masters.

The movement from one format to another. {Ex: a vinyl record moved (transferred) to a CD}. This performed in REAL Time. If the client has a vinyl record that is 45 minutes in length and needs to be transferred to a CD, the time involved is the actual length of the record, plus set up time, and the fee for the CD. If editing, or mastering is involved, regular hourly rates apply.

When the client brings in their final mixes for mastering or formats to be transferred, it is the clients' responsibility to take their materials with them when they leave our studio. If the materials are left with us, we will contact the client one time only. If the materials are left over 30 days, we will dispose of them. So the lesson here is to TAKE YOUR ORIGINAL MATERIALS WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE THE STUDIO !

Formats that are no longer current. These include: DATS, cassettes, 8-track tapes, PCM, vinyl prior to 1960, acetate records, some analog tapes. We have most of the equipment to transfer these formats to current formats such as CD's. Prior to accepting an archival project, we must first give the clients materials a diagnostic check before we proceed.

Most analog tapes recorded prior to 1990, probably need to be "baked", before transfer. The fee to bake is charged PER TAPE. A diagnostic check of the materials by our engineers is required before we accept the project. The baking process is time consuming and precise, and the process is attended by the engineer. The client must be aware that this process is not guaranteed by our company. It is a last resort to salvaging a tape that has not been taken care of. Over a number of years, the iron oxide peels or flakes off of the tape itself, and baking the tape in a specifically designated oven, usually forces the iron oxide back onto the tape. After the baking is complete, there is a two week window for the tapes to be transferred to another format. After the tapes are baked once, and they have been transferred, they will start to flake again, and cannot be salvaged any further. One baking session, one transfer, and the life of the tape is over.

A CD has 16 bits in each digital word to describe the sound. Ex: 16 bit, or 24 bit depth.
Note: 24 bit is our preferred bit depth.

This tells how many times the bits word is described (or refreshed). Ex: 44.1, 48, 96 sampling rate.


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