Nowadays, as an artist, there are so many different formats to release your music in, it’s good to understand the differences between those different types of media.
Are you trying to release on vinyl? Web download? CD? Each one of those output formats requires a different treatment and mastering process. Having that conversation with your engineer upfront can really ensure that you get the best quality for each one of those.
Generally, mastering engineers would like to have separate sessions. For a vinyl release, then for a CD or a web download.
Mastering for vinyl involves manipulating the audio to fall within the capabilities of the vinyl medium to store and reproduce, whereas mastering for CD has far fewer technical limitations, leaving you more wiggle-room in your mix. Check out this article for more details: http://www.audiomasterclass.com/newsletter/mastering-for-vinyl-vs-mastering-for-cd
Be sure to talk to your mixing or mastering engineer about what kind of file types you would like to get back, to ensure that your final mix is perfectly tailored to the nuances of the format it will be released in.
A few years ago, Apple was really forward-thinking in how they were going to release their music in the future. They came up with the term, ‘Mastered for iTunes,’ which allows mastering engineers like myself to master your music for the future. Read more about it here: https://www.justmastering.com/article-masteredforitunes
Their plan in the future is to release high-quality, lossless data formats. If you’re able to deliver a 24 bit, 44 one or higher master to them, they can recompress your music at a lossless format down the road. Could be five years from now, could be ten years from now. But it’s something to look forward to.
If you have questions about the best way to mix ad master your project, depending on your preferred release format, we’re happy to share what we know. Feel free to contact us.
-The Sprout City Crew