What is a Production Master?
A production master is what is given to a manufacturing plant or fulfillment company to mass replicate, duplicate, and/or upload from. It is usually delivered in the form of a Red Book audio CD (referred to as a PMCD) or an audio image file (referred to as a DDP), however in some situations may be delivered as a wav file or another format. You should consult with your manufacturing plant and/or distributor to determine which format they prefer to receive.
The difference between a production master and a reference is the addition of metadata and the amount of quality control that goes into making a production master. A production master can have metadata encoded on it and will go through several stages of quality control including digital error tests, checking the accuracy of all metadata, and a qualified engineer listening from start to finish on headphones to ensure everything on the disc is correct before delivery.
If you plan on mass producing or digitally distributing your project, we highly recommend a production master in order to ensure the integrity of the replication source and to take full advantage of metadata options. Metadata options include inserting ISRC, UPC, and CD Text. If you are not familiar with ISRC codes, we recommend visiting www.usisrc.org to learn what they are and why you would want to add them onto your disc. To learn more about UPC codes, check out www.gs1us.org/
If you have any further questions on production masters please feel free to contact us!