GrooveHouse

Mastering Specs

A Perfect Disc Starts With a Perfect Master.

Although we recommend that you get your project professionally mastered, we also recognize that your budget or time may be limited. If you choose to master your CD, DVD , or vinyl project yourself, you should be familiar with these specs. Please note the difference in specs between CD replication and CD duplication.

CD Audio - Duplication

Acceptable Sources

For Fast Tracks or DIY CD Duplication, we can accept PMCD / CD-Rs, pre-manufactured CDs, uploaded WAV files or uploaded MP3 files. We CANNOT accept DDP image discs or uploads for duplication at this time.

1) PMCD / CD-R Disc

All PMCD / CD-R masters must be recorded without interruption in one single session (disc-at-once) and be Red Book compatible (playable on standard CD players.) Submitted CD masters should be in perfect condition with no scratches or imperfections. Recommended disc brands are MAM-A Gold, Apogee Gold, and Mitsubishi Green Tune. Do not use CD-RW (rewritable) or bargain-priced discs. See our FAQ: What can I do to burn the best CD master possible? for more information. You will be provided with mailing instructions once you place your order.

2) Manufactured Compact Disc

For those situations where the original master is no longer available, manufactured CDs can be used to replicate more CDs. Whenever possible, only new and unplayed CDs should be sent as masters. Even a small scratch can create problems in digital transfers. You will be provided with mailing instructions once you place your order.

3) WAV Files

WAV files must be 16 bit, 44.1 KHz. Not acceptable if you wish to have CD-Text, ISRC and/or cross-fades on your master. You will be provided with upload instructions once you place your order. /p>

3) MP3 Files

Though not recommended for sound quality, we can accept MP3 (320 kbps) files via upload. For best sound quality, we recommend WAV files (see above). Not acceptable if you wish to have CD-Text, ISRC and/or cross-fades on your master. You will be provided with upload instructions once you place your order

CD Audio - Replication

Program Time

The maximum program time for Red Book audio is 74 minutes 40 seconds. The absolute maximum program time is 79 minutes 59 seconds. Any masters with program times greater than 74 minutes 40 seconds will require additional mastering time and may incur additional costs. (Note that discs out of Red Book spec may not play in all players and the sound quality may be affected.) Minimum program time is 1 minute 00 seconds. Minimum track duration is 3 seconds.

Acceptable Sources

Your production master may be in any of three formats: PMCD / CD-R, DDP image disc, or pre-manufactured CD. We test your master for digital errors before replicating and will notify you of any problems. There is a $25 fee for resubmitted masters.

1) PMCD / CD-R Disc

All PMCD / CD-R masters must be recorded without interruption in one single session (disc-at-once) and be Red Book compatible (playable on standard CD players.) Submitted CD masters should be in perfect condition with no scratches or imperfections. Recommended disc brands are MAM-A Gold, Apogee Gold, and Mitsubishi Green Tune. Do not use CD-RW (rewritable) or bargain-priced discs. See our FAQ: What can I do to burn the best CD master possible? for more information.

2) DDP Image Disc

You may submit DDP files via upload or by burning them onto a high quality DVD-R. Include the contents of your entire DDP folder or directory on the root of the ROM. Do not zip the files. DDPi covers regular single session Red Book CD-DA discs as well as 2-session Blue Book enhanced CD discs. DDPi cannot used for CD-ROM.

A DDPi file set for CD would consist of:
* DDPID (Mandatory)
* DDPMS (Mandatory)
* PQ_DESCR (Optional)
* One or more Image.dat file(s) (Mandatory)

3) Manufactured Compact Disc

For those situations where the original master is no longer available, manufactured CDs can be used to replicate more CDs. Whenever possible, only new and unplayed CDs should be sent as masters. Even a small scratch can create problems in digital transfers.

CD-ROM

General

We will replicate your CD-R master as submitted, so you must ensure that it runs exactly like you want the final CD-ROMs to run. We recommend that you test the software in as many different machines as possible. We test your master for digital errors before replicating and will notify you of any problems. Note that there is a $25 fee for resubmitted masters.

Hardware

Record your CD-ROM master as a single session, disc-at-once (DAO), mode 1 disc. Note that some burners may default to track-at-once (TAO) mode. Be sure to check with your user manual for details. Use a high quality media brand to record your master. We recommend Mitsui, Taiyo-Yuden, and Quantegy. Do not use CD-RW (rewritable) or bargain-priced discs.

Software

Though Easy CD Creator for PC and Toast for Mac are the most popular programs, there is better software available, such as Nero (Ahead Software) and Gear Pro (Gear Software). Whichever software you use, make sure that it supports disc-at-once and allows you to select between CD-ROM Mode 1 and CD-ROM XA. Do not use Adaptec/Roxio Direct CD or any other software that uses packet writing. Because data is written to it a few files at a time, a packet-written CD will have multiple tracks and discontinuities in the data which do not belong in a disc image suitable for manufacturing.

Parameters

Here are the basic parameters for CD-ROM (yellow book standard):

Parameter Value Comments
Data capacity 650 MB 74 minutes & 40 seconds
Raw data bit rate 1.41 MB/s all bytes
User data rate 150 kB/s at normal speed
Block (sector) size 2352 bytes
User data per sector 2048 bytes full error correction
Sector rate 75 sect/s at normal speed
Sector modes 1 or 2
Sector forms 1 or 2 only with Mode 2

Acceptable Input Media: CD-R, manufactured CD-ROM, CD-XA/PhotoCD, CD-I/CD-Bridge, CD+G, Enhanced CD

Supported Formats: ISO 9660, High Sierra, Mac-HFS, CD Audio Hybrid, Unix-UFS, CD-ROM and Mixed Mode disc formats

Disc Capacity: 650Mb (74 minutes 40 seconds)

DVD

Acceptable Sources

We can accept DVD-R, DDP archive on DVD-R, DLT, or a pre-manufactured DVD disc. Data must be identified as DVD-5, DVD-9 or DVD-10. In case of DVD-9 and DVD-10, data must be further identified as layer 0 or layer 1.

1) DVD-R

Submitted DVD-R masters must be in perfect condition with no scratches or imperfections. Use a high-quality DVD-R brand.

2) DLT (Digital Linear Tape)

DLTs must contain the pre-mastered image with DDP 2.0 or higher for all layers whether opposite or parallel tracking. DLTs must also be recorded with ANSI labeling. Do not write DLTs in compressed mode.

3) DDP archive on DVD-R

Here are instructions on preparing DDP files using DVD Studio Pro: Write the main.dat, control.dat, and ddp.id files to a hard drive as a DDP file - output file as DDP 2.0. If they can be written to your hard drive, they can be burned to a DVD-R (using Toast) in UDF format. Do this for each layer 0 & 1. Mark disc as "DDP archive" including the layer number. Make sure that submitted discs are in perfect condition without scratches or imperfections.

4) Manufactured DVD

Pre-manufactured DVDs can be used as masters to replicate more DVDs. Whenever possible, only a new and unplayed DVD should be sent as a master. Even a small scratch can create problems during the digital transfer.

Disc Capacities

DVD-5: 4.7 Gb
DVD-9: 8.5 Gb
DVD-10: 9.4 Gb

We recommend that you leave about a 6% safety margin on your discs. e.g. for a DVD-5 with 4.7 Gb, use no more than 4.46 Gb for your data.

Check Discs

GrooveHouse can provide you with a final "check disc" for an additional charge.

CSS Encryption

GrooveHouse offers CSS (Content Scramble System) copy protection which prevents disc-to-disc copying. There is no additional charge for this service. When submitting CSS encrypted masters, please indicate whether the encryption keys are: present on the DLT, present on a customer-supplied disc, or to be provided by GrooveHouse. If you wish us to provide the encryption keys, please submit the following information: total number of VTS (video title sets), total number of VTS for each DLT.

Region Encoding

We replicate DVDs according to the specifications on the original master. DVDs can be authored for either NTSC or PAL, and can be encoded for region 1-6 (or any combination). We replicate both NTSC and PAL, and for all regions, so it’s up to you and your authoring technician to supply us with your preferred format. NTSC is the standard for North America. Here are two useful pages to help you determine DVD formats and DVD regions for other countries.

Vinyl

Acceptable Master Formats

We can accept a PMCD/CD-R disc, WAV files, or a vinyl lacquer master.

1) PMCD / CD-R Disc

All PMCD / CD-R masters must be recorded without interruption in one single session (disc-at-once) and be Red Book compatible (playable on standard CD players.) Submitted CD masters should be in perfect condition with no scratches or imperfections. Recommended disc brands are MAM-A Gold, Apogee Gold, and Mitsubishi Green Tune. Do not use CD-RW (rewritable) or bargain-priced discs. See our FAQs for more detailed information.

If you are sending a single PMCD, be sure to indicate where you want the side break. Make sure there is a 2 second gap at the break - no cross fades.

2) WAV Files

We can accept WAV files for vinyl tracks created at 24 bit, up to 192 kHz. Be sure to indicate song sequence and side breaks. Contact your customer sales rep before emailing us a link.

3) Vinyl Lacquer Master

If GrooveHouse is not doing your lacquer mastering, make sure that you have it done by a reputable engineer (see resources).

Recommended Recording Times For Vinyl Masters


Speed (RPM) Optimum TIme Maximum Time
45 (7-inch) 3 - 3:30 min 4:30 min
45 (12-inch single) 6 - 8 min 10 min
45 (12-inch LP) 12 - 15 min 18 min
33 1/3 (7-inch) not recommended not recommended
33 1/3 (12-inch single) 10 - 12 min 14 min
33 1/3 (12-inch LP) 15 - 18 min 24 min

Tips from our Lacquer Cutter

Mastering for vinyl is very different than mastering for audio CD. The volume (level) of your record is relative to the total time of each side. In other words, if you are recording club or DJ music, the maximum time per side should be 12 minutes for a 12” record. When the side length is less than 9 minutes, the loudness will be at the maximum for 33 1/3 rpm cuts. However, for every minute over 13 minutes per side, you lose approximately 1 dB in volume on the side.

For LPs, our lacquer engineer will often cut a short side at a lower level than the absolute maximum. We go for sound quality over level unless instructed otherwise. For 12” singles we will do everything we can to get a crushingly loud cut. Everyone wants a loud cut, but distortion increases as level increases. Distortion also increases towards the inside diameter of the record.

The main thing that will preclude a loud cut is excessive high-frequency content. Sibilance in vocals and very sharp high hats and cymbals are the most common culprits. It’s something to keeping mind but don’t kill the mix by second guessing yourself. Just make it sound good.

Low frequency content that that isn’t centered can cause tracking problems. This includes effects on the low-end like reverb and delays. This can be “fixed” but you probably won’t like the sound of the fix. Best to avoid it in the first place. If you love the sound of the bass in a reverb wash then you’ll have to put up with a lower level than you may like.

Almost anything can be cut. It just may have to be cut at a low level.



We strongly recommend that you read our post How to Produce a Great Sounding Vinyl Records for more information. Written in 1997, this article by Kevin Grey is still considered to be required reading for anyone recording music intended for vinyl pressing.