Sonic Iguana Mastering

All Sonic Iguana Mastering is done by Mass Giorgini, who has over 20 years of experience in the recording industry and over 12 years as a mastering engineer. His mastering credits include albums by RISE AGAINST, ANTI-FLAG, COMMON RIDER, SQUIRTGUN, the PEACOCKS (Switzerland), KARMELLA’S GAME, the RIPTIDES (Canada) and the SVETLANAS (Italy), among several others.

What is mastering?

Mastering is likely the least understood phase of the recording process. By this point, all performances have been finished, all decisions regarding relative mix levels between the instruments have been finalized, and all equalization and effects for individual tracks have been completed.

In the mastering step, the overall level of the mixed song is brought to a level that most closely matches the standards established by other current professional recordings in the same genre. In addition, dynamics processing is performed on frequencies that seem disproportionately fluctuating in level, so that no one frequency band alternates in volume excessively – in other words, outside of normal musical parameters. If there are areas of deficiencies in any of the frequency bands, they are compensated for in the course of normal mastering steps.

How much does it cost?

At Sonic Iguana, we believe in charging only what is fair. Because of this, an album project sent to us with high amounts of variance in levels and equalization from song to song will cost more than a sequence sent in with all noises edited out, fades completed, and transitions from song to song already committed into the final waveform. Because matching highly disparate sound files requires more time and attention than relatively consistent program material, a compilation of songs by multiple artists will tend to cost more than the same number of songs by one artist recorded and mixed in a consistent fashion.

Approximate Mastering Charges (based on single artist release):

1 song: $125

2 songs: $175

3 songs: : $225

4 songs: $275

5 songs: $325

6 songs: $355

7 songs: $385

8 songs: $415

9 songs: $445

10 songs: $475

11 songs: $505

12 songs: $535

13 songs: $565

14 songs: $595

15 songs: $625

Total includes upload of 1 CD/Digital Master for replication to private DropBox folder.

Directed Deluxe Dynamics (DDD)™

Problem: Because mastering frequently involves steps of compression in order to increase average program levels, the end result necessarily has reduced dynamic range as compared to the original. In many cases, this decreased spread from louder to softer points does not have a significant effect on the desired impact of the music. However, due to the typically maximized program levels of modern rock records, many times the natural dynamics of the songs become almost inverted at points, due to the fact that already “loud” simply can’t get much louder as compared to quieter points in the songs – so the amount of gain audible in a softer section could be twice the apparent loudness of that heard in a loud one. The end result is that these two areas, which are intentionally and artistically intended to have such contrasts, can end up sounding either more alike or even opposite, depending on the nature of the performances, instrumentation, etc.

Solution 1: The easiest and likely most advisable solution is to simply accept a slightly lower average program level. In such a way, the artifacts described above (and others) simply do not introduce themselves. However, for many reasons and in many cases it is preferable to have tonalities and program levels which fit in with the current industry standard. For example, if your new CD is noticeably quieter than the average records of your genre on the radio charts, the programmers may not even give your new release a chance. Or, if the average listener downloads one of your songs and it seems “quiet” or “weak” to them in comparison to the other songs they enjoy, they may not listen any further.

Solution 2 – Directed Deluxe Dynamics (DDD)™: In order to achieve the maximum average program levels and yet conserve the dynamic impact of the points of musical emphasis, one can manually manipulate the average program levels across the songs, ensuring that each section maintains its proper dynamic relationship with the sections which precede and follow it. This technique is more involved and time-consuming than a standard mastering job, but can reap rewards of increased apparent volume without the loss of these musically intended impact points. A handful of high-profile releases mastered at Sonic Iguana have received this treatment, among them the 2012 Anti-Flag album The General Strike. Because of the additional time involved in taking these steps, the average costs of the mastering increase with the application of Directed Deluxe Dynamics  (DDD)™.

Approximate Additional Charges for Directed Deluxe Dynamics (DDD)™:

Up to 5 songs: $40 per song.

Songs 6-15: An additional $30 each.

The above charges are in addition to regular mastering charges and are approximations. Each recording and song is unique, and can vary a great deal in the amount and kind of attention required to bring it within professional parameters.

Important Notes on Approximate Mastering Charges:

Many releases take less time than what is taken into account for the above charges, while others take more. For closer approximations, please contact us with as much information as possible about your project, including format (analog tape, digital files), technical information about the format (ips, sampling frequency, bit depth), number of songs, how songs were recorded (all in the same sessions, different sessions same studio, etc.), number of artists, sample mp3 of material to be mastered (if possible), and a “target” goal for how you want your finished master to sound (Green Day’s “American Idiot,” Social Distortion’s “White Light, White Heat, White Trash,” etc.).

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