Mastering Services


After the multitrack recording session has been has mixed down in the correct production format, be it stereo CD, SACD, DVD surround, the material must be optimized for the glass mastering stage of manufacturing. In this process, the recording's dynamic characteristics are maximized to take full advantage of the playback device's ultimate potential. For broadcast this process is essential, for the recording's potential must match the broadcast conditioning hardware's threshold requirements.

Mastering is a very delicate endeavor, because any adjustment of dynamic power to the pre-master can change the expressional characteristics of the music (recording). Not only the style and genre of the material being mastered need be considered when applying the tools for this process, the aesthetic outcome of these choices can strengthen your product.

The expression achieved through dynamic performance of a classical work should not be treated in the same manner as a jazz quartet, rock, pop, or re-mastered classics. In each style, the techniques, equipment used, and a fine ear can shape or break the product. Having the right tools for the these tasks and knowing how to push and pull at the pre-master to get the most out of the recording is what this specialization is all about.

Mastering the audio can be done in an all-analog or an all-digital configuration. Sometime combinations of the analog and digital tools are used and create exhilarating and aesthetically accurate results. The quality and implementation of each format can change subtle colors in the pre-master recording. Analog tools, sum the material being passed through them in a warm and pleasing fashion. While, digital tools can add precision and focus to the mix. The weak-link in the chain often is the analog to digital conversion (ADC) that links the two worlds together.

We use the highest quality ADC and DAC components to address this all important link in the audio chain. We have converters by Genex, Meitner, and S-Nyquest that can convert the transition in the analog mastering chain with subsample accuracy. Once the signal is the analog domain, the signal flows through the best pro components from Massenberg, Manley, Neve, and Solid State Logic. The analog chain has an extremely low signal-to-noise ratio and sums the channels as only analog can.

The transparency of our system makes it possible to find a dynamic processing configuration that will enhance the sonic quality of the recording without loosing the dynamic contrasts. For instance, in a classical, stereo recording we can use the analog dynamic processing to adds warmth and depth to the pre-master. The material can also be filtered to shape tone and add clarity to the recording. Mastering classical music requires a balance. At Bolo Digital we have engineers who hold advanced degrees in classical composition and computer music who are knowledgable and sensitive to this process.

In a rock song the technique changes. The need for power, drive, and smooth textures calls for a balance between overall level , and a clear mix with a strong placement the parts creating the texture and rhythmic syncopation of the pulse. With a combination of analog and digital components we can sum and blend in the analog domain while calling on the digital domain to powerful brick qualities of digital dynamic processors. The results from these processes are dramatic.

The format and channel requirement of your master is not a problem. We can master stereo, 5.1, and up to 7.1 mixes. Bolo Digital studio can apply analog and/or digital process to your surround sound media as well. We can apply specialty digital and/or analog tools that will effect the overall balance in the surround sound mix. This insures that the delicate balance created in the pre-master is not lost during the mastering process. The power in the mastering process comes when the correct combination of equipment is chosen to maximize the recording and accentuate the aesthetic qualities of music. The low frequency channel in a surround sound mix (sub woffer signal) must be treated differently for various production application. An SACD and DVD Audio have differing specification for all levels over the frequency spectrum. These specification need to comply or the master can be rejected from the glass mastering process. At Bolo we have equipment that can monitor these critical levels so the potential can be managed precisely producing a maximized signal that remains compliant.

Psychoacoustic aspects of the sound can be adjusted, giving the recording a stronger Audio Source Width. Psychoacoustic aspects are another layer to the mastering process. The material's speaker balance can be adjusted at the mastering level. This is a powerful aspect because it can change the intimacy, height, and width of the recorded image. This process takes a fine ear and even more precise monitoring equipment. At Bolo Digital we have matched systems that utilize 5.1 speaker system which reproduces from 8 Hz to over 35KHz spectrum. This flat system give reference to the adjustments being made to the pre-master. This monitoring system can used with our all-analog and all-digital component chain. We can pull in auxiliary speakers so the result of mastering adjustments can be sent other monitoring systems. This gives us a good idea of how the mix will sound out of universal playback systems. Our masters are also tested and optimized to represent the potential of a variety of systems insuring a universally optimized product.

Super Audio CD-back-

Our Finest fidelity surround sound product. We can take the high quality mix (stereo or surround sound, PCM or DSD) and ready the material for the SACD and PCM CD quality layers of the SACD glass master (violet book, used in manufacturing the disk). This disk layer is created by to layers, making this format universally used. One layer has the DSD mix recording (stereo to 5.1) in a clear and with a quality as close to high fidelity analog recording, yet maintaining the digital clarity. The disk has a second layer, this CD layer is PCM 16 bit 44.1KHz Red Book and can be played on any CD player. Even if the material was originally recorded using DSD we can convert and use our Sonoma system and Meitner converters to master the material for glass master (up to 5.1).

SACD format provides some digital copy protection, the SACD layer can only be written in the glass mastering process. The surround sound mix and the fidelity of DSD can't be copied. The only to create the SACD layer is at the manufacturing level.

The process of mastering for SACD production is to optimize the mix to ensure the psychoacoustic image is realized to it's full potential. The engineering can be done both in the Digital DSD domain and/or in pristine analog form (after the Meitners). We are able to filter, compress, and limit pure DSD, pure analog, or a combination of those domains. Using the Sonoma System and software originally developed by Sony/Phillips we are able to monitor the critically important levels (the frequency spectrum between 8 Hz and 50KHz) to create Scarlet Book compliant mixes pushing and forming the audio for masters that call on the full potential of DSD and SACD production. The overall processes of creating PCM conversion of a SACD mix, produce superior quality CD quality masters.

DVD Audio-back-

A superior quality surround sound, sample rate, and quantizations level product, resulting in a DVD Audio master. DVD Audio disks have up to 7.1 channels of digital PCM recording at sample rate up to 96kHz 24 bit. Our digital system covers this scenario. We have the capability to use Waves digital processing on 8 channel simultaneously. For 5.1, we can master in the digital as well as the analog realm.

Digital film? we can get you mix mastered and compressed in the formats needed to create a DVD video.

With DVD Audio, a far superior sonic quality can be achieved than CD quality, and the average consumer has access to the playback technology already. We can take your mix (stereo or surround sound) and get it ready for glass mastering.

DVD Video-back-

We can author of your pre-edited video for video DVD. We are able to create all of the menu assets, do all of the scripting, and graphic needed to author your material for DVD replication or for glass mastering.

Stereo CD-back-

Fine quality stereo Red Book standard, ready for glass master or duplication. Our stereo mastering equipment is extensive. We use the best analog and components interfaced with superior Genex converters to optimize the audio for the master. We can use your high quality stereo mix to create a CD master that uses the full potential of the CD playback components. We are able to push the mix without loosing the dynamic qualities important to many styles of music. The techniques we use are dependant on the style of music and we have the right tools for each style. A Red Book master ready for manufacturing will be of the highest fidelity. True analog and Digital techniques are combined to create a master that presents the mix in an optimized form. We like to master in the highest form and create a image that is converted at the last moment to its production form. Working at a high digital rate during mastering makes the digital tools more accurate and the analog tools more pure. Through the imaging process we can present the highest potential maintaining the color in the upper octaves with no loss during processing. Depending on the format of your pre-master we can create a far superior product ready for glass mastering.

Ipod, gaming, streaming, and mp3-back-

If you want your mix or recording that you intend to be listened to using headphones, we can use the computer to create the virtual HTRF or Holophonic mixes of you pre-master. If there is no tool available, we can program the computer to create mixes that utilize all of the psychoacoustic properties that are only possible when headphones are used for monitoring. We also can compress the file into the proper formats insuring the potential of that delivery format. We can also master for audio-visual products.

In the end, you need a product that allows your customer to hear the full potential of your work. Don't fall short in any of the steps in postproduction. Contact us for more information, we are ready to master.