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My band is working with a somewhat pricey mastering engineer and we are wanting to keep the price down. For a price we're comfortable with, he will either provide us with hi-res masters (24bit, 48khz - the recording quality), or with CD-quality masters + DDP file (16bit-44.1khz).

My gut is to get the hi-res masters, buy Triumph for $79, and do the conversion and create the DDP file myself. However, the engineer said he does a separate mastering pass for each quality he does.

My question is: what might necessitate a different mastering pass for the CD-quality version? What benefit might there be to getting the mastering engineer to do the CD-quality version instead of just converting it myself from the hi-res version?

  • Please do not double post on multiple SE sites. I see you also posted this on AVP. Sound Design is the proper place for it. Please delete your question on AVP. – AJ Henderson Feb 1 '14 at 7:38
  • @AJHenderson: Roger that. Wasn't sure what the proper place was from the FAQs. – Claudiu Feb 1 '14 at 7:52
  • Yeah, that's fair. SD and AVP are currently in flux a bit because we are migrating stuff from one to the other. It will end up being more clear as things move on. The big thing is just to avoid double posting when you aren't sure where it belongs. If it should be elsewhere, it will generally be migrated. – AJ Henderson Feb 1 '14 at 7:54
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Dither, Noise Shaping, and Bit Quantization. These are the reasons for the separate mastering passes. All of which do not need to be considered when mixing/bouncing the audio in the native digital format it was converted to (24bit/48khz).

Also, it sounds like he will provide you with individual "HiRes" native files OR Will downsample for you and create a DDP file. (Which is a FINAL Copy including play order and silence between songs that you can usually upload directly to a CD cuplication service.)

If you are not making CDs or distributing digitally only (itunes?). You have no use for a ddp file. Although u may have use for the MEs tools and know how when it comes to downsampling.

EDIT: I suppose it is possible for the ME to EQ specifically for the lower quality (not likely!) to produce better translation at the format? Also he may handle level peaks differently when downsampling.

IF it were me, Id take the native hi res master and be about my business. Ive also been an audio engineer for years tho.

  • Yea I wanted to take the hi-res too. Consider though that although I'm a very technical person - programmer by trade, pick up technology quickly - I haven't worked much with audio at all. What's the chance I'll be able to successfully do the downsampling? We do plan on making CDs so we'll need it eventually. – Claudiu Feb 3 '14 at 19:44
  • What DAW do you plan on working in - just curious? You sound like me... so, take the hi res and take a look into your DAW user manual about downsampling. You aslo want to take a look at technologies like WAVES IDR ( Increased Digital Resolution), which they use on their mastering limiter pugins (Waves L3) – N.Balauro Feb 3 '14 at 19:49
  • I was planning on using Triumph since it's cheap and seems like it'd do the trick – Claudiu Feb 3 '14 at 19:55
  • Looks to be exactly what you need! – N.Balauro Feb 3 '14 at 20:00
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For going from 24 bit to 16 bit is relativity simple since it is evenly divisible, however you will still want to apply a dither to make up for the way the originally analog signal loses resolution. This allows simulating a wider set of distinct values than 16 bits would normally allow in exchange for some minimal noise. A great link about this was included by Takuya in the comments below.

With 48khz sampling, you can accurately capture waveforms of up to 24khz frequency. There may be some weird harmonic issues that occur during the conversion, but they would be outside the human hearing range.

It isn't truly a lossless experience since it isn't evenly divisible, but it shouldn't cause major issues either.

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