Frequently Asked Questions

What is mastering?

Mastering is the process of taking the final stereo mixes produced by a recording studio, and creating an album (or single) master ready for duplication. It is the final creative stage in the music recording process.

During this process, extra sound processing is usually applied in order to get the sound just right, to achieve a consistency between the different tracks and to fix any problems from the recording stage.

It's what makes a record sound like a record as opposed to a collection of songs.

For more details about the mastering process read all about mastering.

Why should I have my music professionally mastered?

Put simply, mastering makes it sound as good as possible.

Professional mastering engineers have years or decades of mastering experience. They have mastered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of projects. They work in great sounding mastering studios with top-of-the-range mastering equipment. They know exactly what to do to make your music sound better.

It's not just a case of making your tracks loud before pressing copies. Mastering is a process that gets the best possible sound out of your music.

Can I hear demos of Mastering World's work?

Yes you can! Just click here.

Our mastering engineers' pages also have specific examples of their work.

How does "Any Studio" work?

If you are happy for any of our online mastering engineers to master your tracks, select Any Studio to get our best prices.

You will receive the same personal service that Mastering World is famous for, your music will still be mastered by one of the world-class engineers featured on our Studios page, you just won't know which one until they contact you.

Jobs are distributed around our mastering studios on a "round robin" basis, so you have an equal chance of your music being mastered at Hafod Mastering, LOUD Mastering or Super Audio Mastering.

How do I upload my music to Mastering World?

Click Master Tracks Now in the main menu.

You will be taken through a few easy steps to enter your details, pay us and then upload your mix files.

Once that's done you will be able to log in at any time to upload more mixes, update your order or communicate with your mastering engineer.

Which file formats can I upload?

Most of our clients send us their mixes as stereo 24 bit WAV files.

We will accept any format audio files (within reason), WAVs, AIFs etc, but please don't send mp3s!

We'll use mp3's if we have to, but they simply don't sound good enough.

Use the highest resolution that you can, not the lowest resolution that you can get away with.

How should I best prepare my mixes for mastering?

Bounce or render your finished mixes straight off the mix bus with between 1dB and 10dB of headroom.

If you have any limiters or finalisers on the mix bus, please remove or bypass them before running off the mix.

Overall bus processing of the mix is best left to the mastering stage.

For a more detailed discussion on this, please read our blog here. How to prepare your mixes for mastering.

Why shouldn't I use a Finaliser before sending the tracks to be mastered?

A Finaliser will apply multi-band compression and limiting to your track.

It automatically applies algorithms that can change the sound of your music significantly.

We much prefer to use our ears to decide what needs doing to your music during mastering, and use the best mastering equipment in the best listening environment to do it.

Can I speak to the engineer who is mastering my tracks?

Yes you can.

You can send your mastering engineers at any time through Mastering World's messaging system.

Either reply to any of our emails or use our website, and the message will be routed straight to your engineer.

Can I attend the mastering session?

Yes you can.

Please contact us if you wish to do so, though please bear in mind that some of our mastering studios may not be able to offer web prices for attended mastering sessions.

How long will it take for my music to be mastered?

Any Studio projects are returned within 5 working days.

For individual engineers, please check their page for turnaround times.

We will always do our best to get your mastering done promptly.

The mastering engineer will contact you as soon as he receives your job. He will let you know when he has scheduled time to do the work.

If your deadline is tight please select ‘48 Hour Turnaround' on the ordering page, but please contact us first just to confirm that we're able to honour that turnaround time. This will incur an extra charge.

In which format will I receive my mastered tracks?

We will deliver WAVs at 44.1kHz 16bit as standard - the correct resolution for CD and digital distribution.

We can also deliver in any other format at any resolution you need, for example a DDP CD Master, Mastered for iTunes, high resolution files for vinyl etc.

Please contact us if you have any specific requirement not mentioned here, we have probably done it before!

What do I do if I'm not happy with how it sounds?

You can help us get it right first time by sending us your notes, guidance and references along with your order

For changes or amendments after the mastering session, please contact your mastering engineer with details.

One round of changes is included in the 'per track' price; further changes are at the discretion of the engineer; complex or repeated changes may incur an extra charge.

How am I protected against piracy if I upload my tracks to you?

We take the security of your music very seriously.

Our Secure Transfer facility is based on SSL data encryption, the same level of security that banks use on the internet. Our Secure Server is protected to the hilt by modern security software.

However, your music is only as safe as your password or passphrase.

Use the following guidelines, and your music will be as safe as your bank account.

When devising a password or passphrase, use more than one word.
Mix upper and lowercase letters, and add numbers for a very strong password.

Never reveal your password or passphrase to anyone.

Will I be charged tax on my purchase?

Most users of Mastering World will not have to pay United Kingdom Value Added Tax (VAT) for using Mastering World's services. This will depend on where you live, and on whether or not you are using our mastering services for business purposes.

1. Customers outside the European Community (EC), for example the United States, Japan, Australia, India, can use our services tax free.

Simply register your address on our website in your account details, and make your purchase using a credit or debit card registered at that address outside the EC.

2. Customers in the EC (except those in the UK) will not pay VAT if, like most of our customers, you use Mastering World's services for business purposes.

Examples of business purposes might be:
 producing a CD to sell in shops or at gigs;
 producing an album as part of a record contract;
 recording a demo to send to promoters to get gigs;
 making a recording to send to record companies in the hope of getting a record contract or a licensing or distribution deal.

To make sure that you do not pay VAT needlessly, please enter your business name and VAT number (if you have one) in your account details to reflect your business status. If you want to change your details, click >My Account, >Change Business Name.

Mastering World's payment system will take account of these details and, if eligible, you will not be charged VAT on your bill.

3. Customers in the UK have to pay VAT at the current rate of 20%. If you believe you shouldn't have to pay VAT, for example if you live in the Channel Islands, please contact us and we will adjust your bill accordingly.

Note: The details you provide when registering with Mastering World will determine if you will be charged VAT on your job. Your country of residence, as you enter it on your account details, will be checked against your credit card details when you pay us. If you have entered a business name when registering with us then we will assume that you are using our service for business use.

Mastering World is registered for VAT with the United Kingdom's HM Revenue and Customs. Our VAT number is GB855974567.

What is your Cancellation/Refund Policy?

In compliance with EC regulations on distance selling over the internet, you have the following rights to cancel.

To cancel you must contact us either
a. By phone at Mastering World, or
b. You must email the mastering engineer who is due to master your music directly.

You must contact us either
a. before we start work on your job, or
b. within seven working days of the contract starting.

The contract is assumed to have started the moment you have placed your order.

Your chosen mastering engineer will contact you soon after you have placed your order to give an indication of when he will start work on your job.

Once we have started work on your job, you may no longer cancel the contract.