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If You're Creating Your Own Audio CD Master

While it's great that people are becoming more empowered to take direct control over the production of their own CD projects, it can lead to problems caused by inexperience. Improperly supplied CD Masters is an issue I thought I would share with you because we're beginning to see it more frequently these days.

Standard Audio Format For Manufacturing

File Format: WAV or AIF
Bits per sample, per channel: 16
Sample rate: 44.1Khz
Channels: 2 (stereo)
Maximum audio duration is 74 minutes.

Before You Begin Burning Your Master Disc

1. As stated in our Terms of Business clients are to supply their production assets "in final form and in proper working order." This means your production materials are ready to manufacture as supplied without any requirement for modifications. We don't listen to your master so make sure it performs exactly as required before you send it to us.

2. Additionally, we don't alter your Master content in any way we don't add anything and we don't delete anything. If you require CD Text or ISRC Codes or any other types of meta-data or functionality on your CDs this information must already be on your Master when you supply it to us.

3. Formatting a CD for music/audio is different than formatting a CD for data (aka: CDROM). Any reasonably good disc copying software should ask you what type of disc you're trying to make (music or data), so be sure you check the various default settings before you burn your Master. If you format your audio CD as a data disc it wont work on all audio play-back devices.

4. Make sure that your disc will be finalized at the end of the burning process. Supplying a 'multisession' disc can lead to problems when we try to make the glass master and replication stamper from it. If problems occur, we will need a new Master Disc supplied to us which will cause a delay. To finalize your disc means that no additional information/content can be added to the disc later so, again, check the default settings on your disc copying software before you burn your Master to make sure your disc will be finalized.

5. Don't include any other files (like artwork) on your Master unless you actually want them on your finished product.

6. Only use high-quality name-brand blank CDR media. Going with a cheap 'no name' brand isn't worth it, and then burn your Master at the slowest possible speed to ensure the best possible image on the CDR.

7. Always make at least three copies of your Master Disc. One is for you to keep as a safety back-up, and the two others are to supply to the CD manufacturing company. If one of the Master copies fails during testing the CD manufacturer can immediately go to the second copy which will prevent delays. If both copies should fail testing, then you always have your safety back-up copy on hand to make additional copies from. Note: If the CD manufacturing company informs you that your Master Disc(s) failed during testing, try making new copies using a different computer drive/burner. Many times its the drive/burner that causes the problem.

After You Have Burned Your Master Disc:

1. Make sure you listen to your Master(s) from beginning to end - all the way through - to ensure they perform EXACTLY as intended with no errors, skips, pops, etc. Remember - the CDs that you are getting manufactured will be exact clones of your Master so whatever is on your Master will be on the finished product.

We do not listen to your Masters (I'm not aware of any replicator/manufacturer that does) because the only person qualified to know what your Master is supposed to sound like or how it should perform is you.

2. Check your Master on a variety of playback units (portable stereo, car stereo, home stereo, computer, etc.) to make sure you've formatted it correctly and that it will play on all devices.

3. Before you send your Master Disc(s) to the manufacturing company make sure you properly identify them. Use an indelible felt tip marker to add your name, phone number and order (or quote) number onto the non-playing side of the disc. Avoid using a ball-point or other hard-tipped pen.

4. Package your Master Disc(s) safely before shipping. Putting the Disc(s) into paper sleeves will not protect them from rough handling, so it is advised you should use a durable form of packaging such as a case. Use adhesive-tape to ensure the case doesn't pop open during transit. Ship the Disc(s) in a padded mailer.

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