Q: What is the difference between a reference CD and a PMCD?
A: A reference CD is a listening copy for evaluation purposes. A PMCD is an approved master that contains ISRC codes for manufacturing and is accompanied by a PQ log sheet listing. Many manufacturing plants require PMCDs or other manufacturing parts (PCM-1630, DDP Exabyte, etc.) as source material, in order to ensure that the PQ codes don’t have to be entered manually. This greatly reduces the likelihood of errors in the PQ code making it to the finished discs, as well as preventing the need for another audio generation.
Q: What are PQ codes and ISRC codes?
A: PQ codes tell a CD player where each track and sub-index starts and stops, and are accurate to the CD frame, which is 1/75th of a second. This information is stored in the P and Q bits of the CD word. ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code, and identifies the country of origin, the copyright owner, the year, and additional information specified by the copyright owner. This code is different for each track on an album, and is used to track radio airplay.
Q: Can I use a compressor across the master bus in mixing, or should I leave that process until the mastering stage? What about normalization?
A: It is very difficult to undo compression and limiting after the fact. It’s unnecessary to normalize, compress or limit your mix in order to boost level before it gets to the mastering stage. If you wish to use master bus compression for artistic reasons, then do so, but we recommend that you use compression judiciously, and that you print both versions of the mix, with and without the master bus compression.
Q: What formats do you work from?
A: We work from:

  • 1/4 inch analog
  • 1/2 inch analog
  • 1 inch analog (rental charges may apply)
  • 2 inch analog (rental charges may apply)
  • .WAV + .AIFF audio files
  • Sound Designer II (Pro Tools) audio files
  • Sonic Solutions Archive
  • SADiE native files
  • DDP Disc Image
  • Exabyte
  • DLT
  • AIT
  • PCM-1630 3/4 inch Umatic tape
  • Sony 9000 Magneto-Optical
  • Sony 3402
  • Alesis Masterlink
  • Red Book format (16-bit, 44.1 kHz) CD
  • 16-bit DAT
  • 24-bit DAT (rental charges may apply)
  • Genex format MO or hard drive (rental charges may apply)
  • DTRS (rental charges may apply)
  • If your material exists on a format not listed, please inquire to confirm compatibility.
Q: What formats can you deliver?
A: We will generate whatever you need to get the job done. We commonly work with the following formats for delivery:

  • PMCD
  • Exabyte
  • PCM-1630 3/4 inch Umatic tape
  • Magneto-Optical
  • DDP Disc Image
  • DLT
  • AIT
  • Open-ended for Enhanced CD
Q: What is HDCD?
A: HDCD stands for High Definition Compatible Digital. HDCD is a method of digitally encoding audio to retain the detail, dynamic range, and timbre of the original higher resolution signal for playback in any digital format. In addition, HDCD-equipped players can decode the HDCD signal to yield 20 or 24 bits from the 16 bits on the disc, resulting in even greater dynamic range. For more information, visit www.hdcd.com
Q: Should I fade-in and fade-out my mixes before bringing them to be mastered?
A: This is entirely up to you. We often apply fades during the editing process. If you apply fade-ins and fade-outs during mixing, we generally leave those fades intact. However, just like master bus compression, it is sometimes difficult to modify an existing fade. If you choose to apply your own fades, we recommend that you also provide an additional version without the fades.
Q: What about track sequence and spacing?
A: We address track sequence and spacing between songs as one of the last processes in mastering. We can leave sequence and spacing intact, or easily make any changes, depending upon the client’s wishes. In an unattended session, spacing can be approved with an uploaded reference.