CD Mastering

CD Mastering For Audio
There are many different aspects of CD mastering for audio. Below is a description of the most common mastering processes and details of the services Testa-Rossa offer.

Audio Mastering
Audio mastering mainly involves corrective EQ, compression and limiting of the audio to give a uniform sound for a CD release, other processes to correct minor defects and to sweeten the sound may also be applied. This process can be a job for a specialised mastering engineer and many artists will use a specific mastering engineer to achieve a certain sound to their album or tracks.

Audio Editing
It is often necessary to edit an audio track, this could be as simple as chopping out silence from the start and end of tracks or cutting larger sections out of the track to produce a radio edit for example. Testa-Rossa can provide comprehensive editing of audio in our Digidesign Pro Tools system.

PMCD Pre Mastering
Before having your music CD copied by CD duplication or CD Replication it is essential to produce a red book compliant red book pre master CD or PMCD. Pre-mastering involves compiling the various audio tracks to a playlist and programming the correct PQ codes. PQ codes are the table of contents and timing information of tracks including start, end, duration, pause and offsets. Other information such as ISRC codes, CD text and product codes can also be added at the pre-mastering stage. Correct PMCD pre-mastering is essential for successful CD duplication and CD replication of audio CDs. Testa-Rossa can produce a red book compliant PMCD in our mastering studio from customer supplied audio tracks.

Red Book Specification
Red book specification, specified by Philips, ensures playback compatibility of audio CDs on all CD players. It is essential that audio master CDs are always burnt to red book standard. If a master is not red book compliant the duplicated or replicated discs may not playback reliably on all CD players. Duplicated discs or CD-R’s that are not burnt to red book standard will not play reliably on older CD players that were manufactured before CD-R became popular. Duration of audio is also important, although 80 minute CD-R’s are now widely available red book standard specifies that the maximum duration of an audio CD is 74min 44secs. It is therefore wise to never exceed this duration on your master. Duplicated and replicated audio CDs that exceed this duration may not playback reliably on all CD players. If you do not have a PQ printout with your master then it probably isn’t a red book PMCD. If you are unsure whether your master has been burnt to red book standard Testa-Rossa can produce a red book compliant PMCD with PQ printout from your supplied audio master.

CD Text
An increasing number of CD players now incorporate the CD text facility. CD text can display information such as artist name, album name and track titles. If a CD has this information added at the pre-mastering stage then any CD text compatible players will display this information. Many CD burning applications now automatically burn CD text from the names of the audio tracks in your playlist so be sure to name your audio tracks accordingly, do not use working names or abbreviations for tracks as these names may then appear on your CD copies as CD text. If required Testa-Rossa can program CD text information during the PMCD pre-mastering stage.

Advice On Supplying CD Masters
For customers who wish to supply their own home studio production ready masters please consider these guidelines.

Always use highest quality discs and check for compatibility with your CD writer.
Do not use RW rewritable discs
If your master contains ISRC or product codes you MUST provide a PQ printout
Burn your master at a slow speed, never use the maximum speed of your CD writer
Burn audio masters in DAO Disk At Once mode
Check or enable red book compatibility if your software allows it
Avoid LE, lite or express versions of burning software as they usually don’t burn to red book standard
Use the latest available version of your preferred burning software
Verify your master if your software allows it
Make a back up of your master, CDs do get lost in the post
Check that your master plays or opens correctly, then check again
Check for playback compatibility on older walkmans, ghetto blasters and car stereos
Avoid using the full capacity of your disc, never burn more than 78 minutes of audio
If master contains computer data or software check for PC and Mac compatibility
Duplicated or Replicated CDs are only ever as good as the master
If you do not have a PQ printout your master is probably not Red Book compliant
If in doubt seek the services of a reputable CD mastering company

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