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Audio Mastering For CD Production

We will rquire a Red Book Standard CD along with a PQ Sheet if possible.

What is a PQ Sheet?
CD's are written in what is known as Red Book Standard in DAO mode. (Disc At Once)
As well as the music, all the other information is included on the disc including track numbers, track times, track name, pause, gaps and ISRC codes. All of this information is printed out onto a PQ sheet when the CD is mastered. This information is used by an audio engineer at the CD plant to check against whilst making the glass master.
There is normally a print option on the CD Burning software or sometimes you can save as text and then print the PQ Sheet information out.

In my CD Burning software I've created a sample cd which contains 10 tracks, I've added a Barcode number and ISRC Codes. See an example of what a PQ Sheet would look like for this project. Here's a sample PQsample PQ Sheet. Sheet.
It's a pdf so you can right click this link and download it if you wish.
I've written the ISRC Codes as if the year is 2011.
Note the Catalogue No: A1CD1101,
A1CD stands for my company 11 stands for year 2011 & 01 means first realease of that year, It's really handy as in the future you'll be able to tell exactly what year your cd was realeased just by looking at the catalogue number.

CD MASTERING : Treating your audio.

You may need to have your audio treated (Mastered) to ensure that it is at an optimum level for CD production. This process not only sets the level but is the finishing part of your recording, adding punch and shimmer to your songs, it can make a dramatic difference to your material. This is normally done by the studio where you recorded. However if your budget doesn't extend to this, or you recorded in your own home studio, there are several plug ins that will run within your software and do a great job. I record in Cubase and master direct from Cubase using on board plug ins & effects.

Burning Your Red Book Audio Master: (Disc At Once Mode)

You'll need to burn your master CD to Red Book standard ready to produce the Glass Master from which your CD's will be made. Your disc should be burned in what's called "Disc At Once Mode (DAO)" (Not Track At Once or Session At Once) this can usually be selected in the preferences for your program please check that it is.

We suggest you use a very high grade quality CDR and burn the master at the best quality option for the speed your drive will run at, do not use RW re-writable discs. Once it's finished be very careful how you handle it. Clearly label your master cd "AUDIO MASTER" and include your Title & Cat No plus all your contact details. Make sure that you only use a pen suitable for writing on cd's, this is very important, using the wrong pen can render it useless for use as a master. Place it in a jewel case please do not use a paper wallet envelope this can scratch the cd playing surface.

CD Mastering Programs.

There are many programs capable of burning Red Book audio cd's, I still use Roxio Jam 6, it's a great program and allows me to write ISRC Codes as well as Barcode information to the disc.
We also require if possible that you provide a PQ printout. See above for a description of a PQ sheet.
Please see below an image of Roxio Jam 6 showing where you place the ISRC code. (Taken from Roxio Jam 6 running on a Mac G5)

jam audio master software

Jam 6 will also let you add text info for the tracks to display on machines that are able to use this feature. See below for an image of the track text window.

jamtextedit

If you're using a PC you might like to try CD Architect 5
cdarchitect
Sony CD Architect V5

General Notes For Mastering.

Handle carefully, the input data media, especially CD-Rs, they are very sensitive media. The utmost care must be taken when handling these data media to protect them from damage. Place it in a protective jewel case and do not touch the playing side. As mentioned above, Clearly label your master cd "AUDIO MASTER" and include your Title & Cat No plus all your contact details.
Make sure that you only use a pen suitable for writing on cd's, this is very important, using the wrong pen can render it useless for use as a master.
Absolute Maximum Content. (79 minutes)

CD-Audio, Compact Disc Digital Audio is the normal audio CD which has a maximum capacity of 79 minutes. The standard was established by Philips and Sony in what is known as the "Red Book".

What If You Can't Produce An Audio Master Yourself.
If you haven't got the facilities don't worry, just give us a call, we'll be happy to prepare an audio master for you at the very reasonable price of only £5.00 per track + VAT,
(Only available for clients who's CD's we are pressing) or perhaps we can guide you through any problems you may be having at your end. Tel: 01553 617546

DAT Masters:
If you supply a DAT Master, It will cost you around an extra £175.00 + Vat to prepare your content ready to make the Glass Master. We would always advise you to send a CDr and this involves no extra cost.

Glass Master:
The production of a glass master precedes the replication process. In this, the information is transferred to a photo-sensitive layer on a glass disc. Metal foils are then taken from this piece of glass, using galvanising processes, and the stampers (injection moulding dies) are then created.
Production of the glass master and the extrusion dies is carried out with absolute precision and is thus subject to continuous quality control.

I hope this information has proved useful.

Mervyn J Futter

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A1 Cds

M J Music (A1 Cds)
139 High Road, Islington
King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE34 3BH
Tel: 01553 617546
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