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CD Mastering Software
Still Relevant?

SoundBetter PRO

Is CD Mastering Software still relevant in this day of digital delivery?

There will come a time when a physical disc probably won’t be necessary.

But it’s a nice option to have. Despite what you may have heard.

Consider The Advantages:

Think of your CD master as "back up software" for your music!

If you or your listeners ever lose access to their music files - for whatever reason - having a ‘hard copy’ of your music will definitely pay off.

And after having purchased your CD, they have the options with how to port the songs to their iDevices: whether as full .wav or .aiff files; FLAC file; or some other data compression scheme like mp3’s.

Other Things To Consider:

Different generations like to stick with what they know and are familiar with.

So older generations still prefer handling a disc.

And if you decide against a CD master, your shutting out potential sales at your live shows!

My Professional Experience:

When it comes to albums, all the folks I work with, no matter what their age, want a CD master.

So for that I use professional CD mastering software.

My choice: WaveLab.

What Professional CD Mastering Software Accomplishes:

It streamlines the Master CD creation.

It eases the decision making process.

Decisions involving:

  • CD Track Markers
  • CD Text
  • Embedded Codes
  • Extra Data

Here’s what to decide regarding CD track markers:

  • Will each track have its own start and end marker?
  • Or will there just be a combined start/end marker between tracks?
  • Or a combination of both types throughout the CD?

Live recordings have other considerations. This would deal with spoken intros to the songs: how will these be I.D.'ed?

  • Will these intros have their own track?
  • Will they be part of the song? (This would mean when your listener cues up the track the first thing she'll hear is the intro).
  • Will these mini-monologues appear between the tracks?? (This means your listener never hears the intros when she cues up any track. They're only heard when the CD is played straight through - or by listening through consecutive tracks).

Lots Of Choices! But Lots Of Fun Too!

Here's a fun trick you should think about:

Hidden tracks!

This is from the same technique I use with putting dialogue 'between' the tracks in our live recording. But this time, I put entire songs between two others. Again, they'll only be heard when your CD is listened to from beginning to end.

I can 'hide' a bonus track at the end of the CD this way. When appropriate, I’ve suggested this for many clients who loved the idea....after I explained the details of how it works!

The technique involves placing the bonus song between the last CD track and another final four-second 'blank' track. Why four seconds? Because that is the minimum track length stipulated for the compact disk red book format.

Professional CD mastering software can do that.

Two points:

  • To be clear these tracks aren't really hidden, but rather made inaccessible - unless your listener wants to fast forward or rewind through the surrounding tracks.
  • All these options for hidden tracks are for you to decide! I can offer advice. And delivery.

More Fun

The real way to hide a track is to put it in the pause area before the start of the CD.

Another standard of the compact disk format is that they all have a 2 second pause (or silence) before the beginning of the entire CD. This is where I can also put 'hidden' audio. It's accessed by the playing the first track, hitting pause, and rewinding until the “beginning” of the hidden song.

This is a nice trick especially if you keep it a secret from your listener!! But! - be warned: a lot of players (including recent models) don't let your users do this.

WaveLab's CD mastering software can accomplish this trick with ease.

More Decisions:

Now if you’re going to offer a digital downloads for your album - and why not - you’ll have some other choices to make for your hidden tracks:

  • Part of the download?
  • Only for your fans who buy your CD?

If you want everyone to have all your tracks, you’ll have to create two versions of your album. Fortunately the all-download version will only need a data disc for companies like CD Baby to to convert and upload.

Are we done yet?!

Final Details. Important Ones:

  • CD TEXT?.

Would you like to have song, artist, and album title displayed on your listeners CD players (if the player supports is, that is)? Then I can do this for you too!

By the way, this is NOT the same thing as entering your info in a database like Freedb or CDDB. That requires an internet connection. CD TEXT has the information actually embedded on the CD so that TEXT-capable players will display it to your listener.

That last point is not an option with me - it’s a necessity!

I consider dithering part of the CD mastering process. I do it just before the disc gets written

Still Relevant!

With all the features of WaveLab’s CD mastering software, I’m capable of creating red book CD's exactly the way you want it.

Once all the details are taken care of, I’ll have given you everything you need for a truly polished, professional master.

 Mister's Mastering House
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