129: Master File Formats – What You (Don’t) Need To Worry About

129: Master File Formats – What You (Don’t) Need To Worry About

Do you need different files for different streaming services and physical mediums or is it one master to rule them all?


Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

And which other deliverables do you need to create (or ask for, in case you're working with other engineers)?

Two things are for sure:

  1. You want your music to sound as good as possible on any platform
  2. You want to be future proof, which means ready for possible opportunities down the road.

So in this episode we explain how we set up our mixing and/or mastering sessions to be able to print all necessary deliverables and what exactly we actually deliver to the artists we’re working with.

There are 100 different ways to do it and definitely 100 different opinions out there, so let’s try and explain what really matters and what you as a DIY producer/engineer need (or don't need) to worry about!

This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB 129 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy

Benedikt: Hello, and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I am your host Benedictine, and I'm here with my friend and co-host Malcolm Owen. Flett. How are you, Malcolm?

Malcom: Hello. I'm good, man. It's so good to be back. I have been away for like five weeks at least. And, uh, it felt like a long time. It was a long time. That is a long time.

Benedikt: Yeah. Definitely felt like one. yeah. How mean, how are you? Like give

Malcom: I'm I'm good. Yeah. It's nice being home. It was, it was quite the adventure. I'm actually allowed to say what I was doing. I'm

Benedikt: Oh yeah. Finally. 

Malcom: aware. Um, it was a show, a CBC show called, uh, Canada's ultimate challenge, which is like a brand new reality TV series. And we just travel across the country with a bunch of athletes and Olympians and stuff and, uh, made TV. It was pretty cool. Very fun experience. Got to go to some very cool places that I've never been to before. And, uh, yeah. All around exhausted, but happy and, uh, yeah. Trip of a lifetime, so good to be back 

Benedikt: That sounds really, really great, but it was not the title of the show that I expected to hear. Is it something different then, or is it

Malcom: okay. Yeah. So this, this constantly confuses people because some shows I'm not allowed to say the name of.

Benedikt: okay. 

Malcom: until they're released. Right? So the last time I went away back in, I think that was April and may. That was for the amazing race, which is now just started airing. So now I'm starting to post about that and actually be able to share my experiences on that. But people now think that they , they, they see those posts and think that I'm like on it right now, but that was actually months ago.

Benedikt: Okay.

Malcom: the timelines.

Benedikt: I, I, I thought, I thought that was the thing. Okay.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. That that's everyone. It's not just you. It's, it's all confusing, but

Benedikt: was it both like, I, I just remember the amazing race thing was like very challenging physically. Like, was it the same thing with the other, with the other show too?

Malcom: Not at, there was a couple days that were, were very much so, um, but no, this one was more technically challenging though. We had a huge cast count. Um, and there was, there was a lot of audio mixers, huge camera team, and we're all like cameras are all being fed wirelessly and we're sending wirelessly and there's a video village. Where they're receiving all of our stuff, so they can kind of like live mix the show to kind of get an idea of what it will look like. It was, it was a huge operation. Right. In fact, I think it was the biggest budgeted reality TV show in Canada ever. Pretty sure. So it was a, it was a big thing and, uh, a lot of fun learned to learnt a ton. need some sleep for about a month. Probably

Benedikt: for sure. For sure. Did you take some time off now after this whole thing or?

Malcom: Kind of, I've got like a slow week here, so that'll be nice.

Benedikt: Okay. Awesome. Okay. And then studio your project still like booked or things planned or what what's next?

Malcom: yep. Yeah. I've got, uh, got a mix for this this week. when I say slow week, I've got only one song to mix, so that's nice. and then an album to master. I think that's gonna be it slow week.

Benedikt: Okay. Awesome. Awesome.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. And will you Benny, any, any news you need to share? It's it's been been a while, man, like you and I literally haven't got the catch up for that entire time. I was away. I

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there was a lot that happened. I don't, it's probably too much to choose to tell all, all these things and this, uh, and this little ban here. Mostly like, yeah, it was basically work wise. It was the same as always like tons of mixing, tons of coaching, couple new things in, uh, uh, in the making we've built an entire new editing course. I can say that already because it's finished. Like Thomas did the course and it's, it's amazing. It's phenomenal drum editing course. And there's more to come. And on that side of things and, uh, yeah, I'm pretty excited to share that then. Uh, we're still like mix is unpacked two. We already announced that that is, is done now. And so we've been working on courses, we've been working on coaching and mixing. I did a ton of running. yeah, that's basically it and now I'm on vacation mode for the first. time, this year, I'm really on, on like a two weeks. vacation thing, except for this podcast recording today, this is the only thing that I'm gonna do during these two weeks.

Malcom: good. Yeah. Well earned you, you work very hard, so enjoy it, buddy.

Benedikt: yeah, thanks. I added you by, by the way, I followed you. That's the last thing I wanna say unrelated to this episode, but I, I followed you on Strava. I think a couple of weeks

Malcom: oh, you're finally on Strava. Great.

Benedikt: I found you there. So, because we were talking about that, I don't know, half a year ago or so, so now I found finally joined drama and now I found you, so just a heads up.

Malcom: Okay. I I'll I'll follow you back. I don't think I saw that. So

Benedikt: yeah.

Malcom: I, I will do that.

Benedikt: Yeah. 

Malcom: man. 

Benedikt: Awesome. Yeah. Cool. So let's dive into today's episode, I guess. Uh, let's see if we can still do this. I, I guess it's, I assume it's like riding a bike. You probably,

Malcom: It's like riding a bike. Yeah. And I've got the perfect segue. Cause I bet before you did this, uh, vacation of your, you had to wrap up a bunch of projects and in order to wrap up a bunch of projects, you need to deliver your final deliverables, which is the topic of our podcast.

Benedikt: Exactly. That's pretty much what I did last week. Like the whole week, almost like I was wrapping up things, sending out final deliverables. Exactly. Yeah. Perfect segue. Thank you. so today's episode is, is gonna be about that. It's gonna be about which files do you actually need and what goes, where, like, which file do you need for the different. Platforms streaming services mediums. Is it one master to rule them all? Do you need different files, different formats? so, and I, we're gonna talk about this. You want your, you as a listener, you want your music to sound as good as possible, of course, on any platform and you, I think you also, think about being Futureproof too. So you wanna be ready for possible opportunities down the road. And when you wrap up your projects, when you record things and you, you export the final master, you wanna make sure that you have everything you need so that you don't have to go back and open old sessions again, in case something comes up or whatever. And a lot of people are confused. Yeah, which format they need, which sample rate, which, whatever, which file format even, and if there's different things needed for different platforms. So we're gonna talk about that. And I think we're just gonna explain how we do it, Malcolm you and I like what we deliver to the artists that we're working with, how we set up our mixing and mastering sessions. So we are able to print all the necessary deliverables. and maybe things have changed over the years. I don't know for, for me, at least they definitely have I, delivered, uh, like more things a while ago now I kind of simplified it. We've gotta talk about all of that because I think this is one of those things. There are where there are a hundred different ways of like to do it, of doing it and definitely a hundred different op uh, opinions out there on the internet. If you go to forums or like, I mean, a couple of these mastering groups on Facebook, for example, where. Some people for whatever reason, deliver dozens of different things. And other people just do one and all of them are great engineers. So I don't think there's a right or wrong way really, but different opinions and different views. And we've gotta talk about that and explain what we think really matters and what you as a DIY producer and engineer and artists need to worry about.

Malcom: Absolutely. Yeah. So I guess we should clarify that when we say final deliverables, we mean what you will be receiving as the artist, as the final deliverables from, essentially a mastering engineer, um, that maybe you're mixing engineer is also your mastering engineer, but whoever is finalizing the. The the project. And now if you're doing that yourself, you still need to do the step as well.

Benedikt: Yes. That's, that's what I meant. Yeah, of course. Yeah. A couple people won't will, will not do it themselves. So you have to know what to expect or what to ask for if, depending on who you're working with, they should know that, but you know, you never know. and then on the, on the other hand, I, I, I was talking to the people who do it themselves, like, because a lot of people do it all themselves, and you need to know how to like what, to, what, to, what you need to worry about and what is maybe not so important. So,

Malcom: Absolutely. Yeah. And there isn't just one answer, I guess, either is what we'll discover in this too. There's uh, different artists who will have different needs based on what they're doing.

Benedikt: Yes. All right. So you wanna start or should I, or how do, how you do wanna do this? Like what I I'm just gonna ask you. What do you, what do you deliver to your, to the, to the people you master for or mix. 

Malcom: Uh, on a basic song, I'm gonna deliver one master version of the song, which will be 44, 1 16 bit master of the song. And I will also include an instrumental version of the song as well. 

Benedikt: yeah. Sorry. Sorry. If it drop. So I'm just gonna say, always say the file format too, because people might be confused. So we're talking way files here. 

Malcom: yes. absolutely. Yep. Yeah. 44, 1 16 bit wave file. Um, and then I will do the same bounds again, but as an instrumental version. So then the, the vocal is muted out of it. and then I will do the same again, but for as high res of an MP3 file as I can make. So I'll just give them essentially a 44, 1 16 bit wave file and MP3 file to both the full song as well as. Instrumental version. And if there's a radio edit of the song or something, or like essential version that as well, every time I give those files, no matter what. now there is the opportunity for more upon request if needed. you know, like I'm, I'm sure just to throw some examples out there to get people's brains thinking about what, what else there also could be. Um, you know, there could be individual stem groups of. the different groups of instruments in the track, you know, just the drums, just the guitars, you know, stuff like that. there could be, acapella versions. There could be, karaoke versions, which is like when the lead vocals gone, but the backing vocals are still there. Like could be, like a vocal op version. There could be like, there's kind of unlimited. And then that's just the alternate versions of the song. And there could also be. Different, uh, resolutions, you know, some people might want 48 K 24 bit, which. You know, makes sense actually. I think that's probably gonna be the next thing we're seeing on streaming platforms accepting. and then you could go higher than that. If you recorded at a higher bit rate or, or whatever, or sample rate, you could, you could totally deliver higher than that. But for me, 44, 1 16 bit way file of the song and an instrumental version, which I think is crucial as well as MP3 MP3 versions of both as well. Any questions

Benedikt: Yes. Yes. I actually have questions. So the first one is any reason for use to like why you still deliver like 16 bit, files. A lot of people do that and I used to do that up up until like half a year ago or so, but. I switched to only delivering 44, 1 24 bit now because all the streaming or like district kit and all those services, they just accept 24 bid files now. And so you automatically, you automatically cover title and the high-res streaming platforms and all of those things with that too. And I think no platform at this point has any problem with the 24 bid file. So I'm just interested, interested in hearing if there's any reason for you delivering 16 bid instead of 24.

Malcom: Other than just that it's like the CD quality standard. Um, so, so if somebody does go that route, it's already taken care of, it's kind of a one size fits all. if I can make it sound good dither down to 16 bit, while I'm doing the master, I don't really care. Uh, if it's not 24 bit anymore, I'm hearing it as like, like I'm, I'm hearing it as 16 bit by the time I deliver it. Right. So I just kind of master it to sound how I want. And, don't overthink it really too much.

Benedikt: Okay. Okay. That's I'm gonna get too why I switched. Uh, but 

Malcom: No, no, I, I don't think you're wrong. I think that it makes total sense. And, and if there's like a change I'm gonna make soon, that would be it a hundred percent would be going 24 a bit. Um, but as for 44, 1 it's because district good still doesn't accept 48, which is weird, but

Benedikt: Yeah. I I'm, I'm still with 44 1 too, also because. I'm gonna get to, I'm gonna get to that when I, um, when I get to through my list, uh, I just, I'm just gonna ask you, uh, the questions first that I have for you. So 40 for one 16 bit. Um, alright. Now, do you do the, the MP3, just because people requested it, I guess a lot, and then you just started to include it, or is there any reason for the three 

Malcom: There's two reasons. One is that certain web players will only accept MP3. Um, so people rather than emailing me, thinking that I sent them the wrong file. When they're trying to use a wave file, I just send an MP3 and be like, Hey, some things will only accept this. Here you go is, take care of that's that's one reason just so they don't think I'm messed up when they're actually messing up and then the other is that when they make their own MP3. I've found that they do a terrible job at it, just because, uh, they're using like a free MP3 decoder on Google or something. And it makes a really terrible sounding file. So by me delivering, uh, a good MP3, I know that it it's like I've kind of protected myself from my mix getting butchered. 

Benedikt: Yeah. Okay. Okay. Okay. That, that almost covered. The third question that I had, which was for the MP3. Do you do, um, do you create a, a different master or do you just use a good like, algorithm to create the 

Malcom: I just, 

Benedikt: Like

Malcom: just, just use the highest code. I, I

Benedikt: Okay. Okay. Because, okay. I'm just asking, because one of the things that happens when people create their own MP3s, even if they use a good code, is that if you send out, um, a hot master that is like peeking at, I don't know that 0.1 true peak or something like that. if people convert that to MP3, you can still get like inters sample peaks and it can clip after being converted to MP3. And that that's one of the reasons why I also, deliver, like I delivered, I don't do it anymore, but that was one of the reasons why I sent out MP3 is just to, to, to prevent that from happening. And what I did was I was just, I just lowered my master by 0.5 DB and then created the MP3 from the actual session. Then I checked it for any into sample peaks because I don't really worry about those. And in most cases they don't even matter, but I just want, I just don't want any red lights to come on on the consumer side. And, and I don't want any questions on that. I, you know, that just confuses people. So I just made sure that didn't happen. And I was asking if, if you did the same, 

Malcom: So I I'm actually just a little above 0.5, usually on, uh, on all of my masters. Um, but I'm, I'm, I'm never as high as like 0.1 for example, or zero. Um, so it it's, it's kind of already taken care of in even my way file. but I also, again, I don't sweat it, like all of my favorite songs hit red. If I throw 'em into pro tools, every single one of 'em. So I, I just don't care. Um

Benedikt: yeah. Yeah.

Malcom: um, and, uh, yeah, so I'm totally fine with it. Um, so yeah, the only thing I would add is, is why I include an instrumental version is just that I think that anybody. Everybody should be ready for a potential sync opportunity of, of getting their song as background music and a TV show or something. And having that instrumental file is, is super crucial for that.

Benedikt: Do you, do, do you create a separate master for that? Or do you tweak the mix for that? Or do you just

Malcom: No, no, just, just the same again. Um, and the, the only. Small chance could be sometimes there's like bleed of a scratch vocal in, in like drum room mics or something. And if I can clean that up, I will, um, if it's possible, but it, again, it's just like, here's, the mix stands, stands vocal and, and really that's usually what they're looking for is just, they just want the same thing that they heard, but they want the vocals gone so that they can do whatever they want with an edit.

Benedikt: yeah, that requires, and I love that whole answer because first of all, I love the whole answer because it's simple and it just goes to show that there's really no, not so much to worry about. And you're basically the one master to Ru all type of guy, and it works in most cases, unless somebody asks for something else this just will do. So that is, um, I think good for people to know that it's actually not as complicated or it doesn't have to be. then the other. That I have, did I wanna say is if you wanna be able to do what, what you do Malcolm, to just be able to mute the vocal and print the instrumental and that's it. That is only possible if you have your, like your game structure somewhat correct. And, and like a proper like mixed pass and mastering chain, because if that's all messed up, if like you do the thing that a lot of DIY people do, where they. Slam their, they put one limiter on the master and they slam that and do like 10 to B of game introduction or something. And if you then take away the vocal, the whole balance might change, you know, but if you have like proper, if you do loudness and small little steps and on groups, and if you do all the things properly that we explained on in other episodes, your mix shouldn't change dramatically if you just mute the vocal, but if you get that wrong, then that could happen. It could mean that muting the vocal causes everything to react completely differently and that it just doesn't work that way. So you gotta be careful and you gotta get the basics right. In order for that to work. So I'm just

Malcom: absolutely. Yeah. And yeah, if you mute your vocal and you're not proud of your mix anymore, there's a problem.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, but I I've seen that happen where like, without the vocal, all of a sudden there's five DB, less gain reduction or something, or, you know, some, some balance issue that, that caused, you know, you, you, you don't know what I mean. Like some, when the balancing is just off, the vocal is way too loud and then you, you get it under control by heavy limiting or something, and then you mute the vocal and everything falls apart or something like that.

Malcom: Yeah.

Benedikt: Um, 

Malcom: Now, before I ask you what you deliver, maybe I'll talk about why I don't deliver more than that on by default. and it's because, My band has never had all of our other versions requested ever. Um, and we do a lot of sync stuff. They only ever want the instrumental one or the vocal one , but we have all these other karaoke versions and all, you know, everything they ask for. But in reality, nobody's got time for that shit.

Benedikt: yeah,

Malcom: if, if they're doing sync stuff, they're just like, they just need it quick and, you know, be different if they wanted it for the theme song of their episode, maybe. But, uh, in that case you probably got time to figure it out anyways. It does cost more money to get all these alternate versions done. Some people might include 'em for free. I think those people are crazy, cuz it does take a lot of time usually to make 'em as well. backing tracks is one argument that comes up where like, oh, I want all the stem groups for backing tracks. But backing tracks were actually more complicated than that. Chances are. If you had all those stem groups, you're gonna actually wanna email your engineer to get certain parts removed so that you only have, like your guitars don't have the guitar you're playing. It only has other guitars. It's like, it's never as simple as you think it is. so, so that never actually ends up being useful for the bands either. I find. Unless. Yeah. I mean, there's always an exception, I guess, but really it was like all of this extra work that was just creating a big folder of stuff that wasn't getting used. And in some cases was confusing them where I'd get an email being like, I don't know which one my actual master is in all of these. And it's like, well, that's a problem. so I just went simple. You can't mess this up. , here's what you need. And if you know, you need something more than this, let me.

Benedikt: Yeah. Perfect. Makes perfect sense. All right, cool. Thank you. 

Malcom: Okay. Benny, what do you, what do you deliver?

Benedikt: Okay, so it's similar, but also different. And I, I ran into those, some of those issues that you just described with, uh, creating all these other formats, but I tried to find a way where I could still deliver more without it taking up a lot of time or costing extra for the artists, but it's sort of a compromise. So what I'm doing is. For the longest time I have to start differently for, for a long, for the longest time I used to deliver a standard 44, 1 16 bit wave file, just like you plus a high res file. That was whatever sample the session was in 44 1, or if it was higher than I just used that separate that it had. And a 24 bit for title and, you know, these high risk platforms, just, just so they can get the, the batch, because actually, as you said, it doesn't make a difference. It doesn't sound better if you do it properly, the 16 bit master sounds just fine. But, um, in order for you to get the high res whatever master for title, or I don't know, badge on certain platforms, uh, it has to be 24 bit and, you know, so I just provided that. And then also for video, um, YouTube. I just followed the recommendations there. I think YouTube is 44, 1 24 bit is currently what they recommend. And that also works well for a couple of other things. So long story short, I used to, to deliver a standard and a high risk version, which kind of already caused confusion. And I had to ask a bunch of answer a bunch of questions with some of the people that I worked with because they didn't know what to use, where despite me, like, I, I, I, I added documentation and I tried to make it as clear as possible, but it was still confusing. 

Malcom: it. 

Benedikt: You know, they either never read that or they still don't know. I don't know. Yeah. But anyway, 

Malcom: hold on. Hold on. Here's why it's confusing. It's because when people listen, they can't tell the difference between this high res and the non-res, which again, kind of negates the whole purpose. Right? So it's like, well, if we can't literally tell by listening, even though one's labeled, why, why are we doing this?

Benedikt: Yeah, so that was what I was doing for the longest time. And everything else was just on, like, if they, if requested basically, but then I kind of changed things and I figured, well, I have this complicated or like complicated this complex running, um, going on in my, in my mixes, like this, the bus, the buses that I use, the groups and all of that. And I just thought, okay, I could just easily export the groups that I already have. In one go. Basically when I print my final mixes, it's nothing not really extra effort. And maybe those stems make sense for backing tracks or whatever. And I just, I just figure out a way to. to print the, the master, the unmastered mix. If I do it in the same session, um, if that happens, if the mixing mastering happens in the same session, I can print the master, the unmastered mix. I can print groups, but not like custom groups, but just like the way I have set, I have them set up in my session. So that usually means drums, like all drums, all base, all rhythm guitars, all leads and all vocals. So these are the, or, and then additional production or something. So these are my stems that I always have my groups. So I export these, uh, I can export these easily. And then, um, I change from delivering a standard and a high res master to just the high re only. So what I do now is I deliver a 44, 1 24 bit master that's that's the master that you're gonna use for the release that is just accepted by district kit and all the other platforms. And that's just what you're gonna use. I include the instrumental version, just like you, which means vocals muted. And that's it. Same 24, uh, 24 bit 44, 1 kilohertz wave. Then I include the groups that I just mentioned, but that's kind of a, as you said, it's like kind of a compromise because it's not gonna work for everybody, but you at least have the groups you can do. In theory, you could do remixes or you could use them as backing tracks or practice tracks. You could put together your own, you know, it's, it's not perfect, but it's, it's there. It's easy. So I provide it, And then I started to provide the unmastered mix two, just in case people wanna, sometimes people wanna check out a couple of different mastering engineers and then they decide if they wanna use my master or some one else's master. So I provide that too. yeah. And I can do that pretty easily the only, but like the only risk here is you have to document it really well and explain it well to avoid confusion. So it's. That's the only thing, because what I send to people is, is a folder that has a couple of different things. And I label them with bold letters, like use this for release, use this for, you know, these are stems and instrumentals. This is, I dunno, whatever you request, if you request more. And, uh, it still confuses people sometimes, but that's what I do now. So, And then the MP3, I stopped doing that just because nobody really needed it anymore. I feel like, like for some reason, People don't ask and maybe they converted themselves, which would not be ideal. But I asked a couple of both the artists that I worked with and nobody really needed the MP3s anymore. So I don't, I stopped doing them. And I do things like I don't worry about CD anymore. That's why I don't deliver the 16 bit. Master CD is very rare. And if somebody wants to go to CD, they will tell me, and then I will create a DDP image anyways. So in that case, I will send a DDP sequence master. And if they go to vinyl, I will do a vinyl master, which is a whole different master. Anyway. So this is a different mastering session altogether. um, but if not request that DDP and vinyl are not part of the package, what you always get is like the 24 bit way file. Plus the groups plus the instrumental and, um, the unmastered mix. That's what I, what I deliver now.

Malcom: That's great. Um, you did remind me that the pre-master is an important thing. I actually, I, I do print that, but I don't send it. I usually, I keep it for myself. Um, and, and it's more so because more and more bands are recording multiple songs over a longer period of time, and then deciding later to put them together. So having that pre-master handy, lets me do like an album master at a later point. Um, so it is kind of covering that or if they requested, at least I've got it handy. 

Benedikt: That's a, a very good point that you bring up there. I'm glad you brought it up because I, I wa um, I almost forgot. I have to say that part of the reason why I export all these, all these things is not just because I wanna give them to people. I do this for, for myself too, for a, um, archiving reason. So. In case I cannot open a session anymore. In three years, I still have my groups and stems and I could in theory, put the mix together and do some mix plus processing and get the same thing again. So it's, it's not gonna be perfect, but I can pretty quickly get to, to the mix that I had again, even if I can't open the session anymore. So that is part of the reason why I wanna do this. Same for the unmastered mix. If I wanna, if I'm asked to do a sequence later, if they thought they were gonna do a single or an EP, and then they wanna do a record, instead I have those and can remaster them and, and, um, take that into account because you know, the album, as you said, the sequence and an album flow, when all of that might require a different master than just doing it for a single, So that's part of it. And, and . Honestly, I just wanted to avoid having ever like having go to go back to older sessions basically, because what happened in the past, and I didn't deliver those things or didn't print those things was that somebody needed instrumental. Somebody needed the drums. Only somebody needed whatever the unmastered mix. And it was always a pain to go take to find the. you know, the, the archive drive and then figure out if I can still open up the session and then maybe I didn't have some plugin anymore. So I actually, I just didn't wanna do that anymore. So now I just try to be future proof and try to have everything printed that I could ever need. And for like a year or so, I didn't have to open any old sessions anymore. I just had everything I, I need. And I feel like if somebody asks me two years from now and requests something, I'm pretty confident I have what they need. And this is part of the reason of all of this, because that's just the nature of, of how things work now. Like I think a couple of years ago it was just normal. That engineers would be like, well, that session is over. I can't do, I can't go back and can't give you that anymore because you didn't ask for it at the time. But I think nowadays people kind of expect you to pee to be able to deliver things and. whether or not that is a good thing or whether, I don't know, but like, it, it is possible. And I try to make that work if yeah. That's, I think part of my, of, of, of the reason for it, I know there are some mixing engineers with like quite, complicated ways of setting up their sessions. If I'm, if you think like, Andrew septs, for example, or people like that who use a ton of parallel on parallel processing on everything. Like, I, I think I'm not sure, but I, I assume he can't easily print stems for you because everything affects everything and it doesn't really work like that unless you request it. And there are still some engineers who do it like that, but I kind of, I just think it's something people want these days and I wanna be able to provide that. So I just do my best to, to, to have the flexibility. I.

Malcom: right. Well, I'm glad you care. I don't care.

Benedikt: Yeah, and it's totally fine and it's totally fine. And I, I'm not even sure if I should care. Uh, that's just a part of my, like all the, the whole, a lot of people don't care about the archiving anyway, either. Like, but I, I don't know for that's like the perfectionist part of me 

Malcom: no it, and it is like, I, I think you're, you're technically right. I, and I, you know, I, I do save all my, my sessions and stuff like that. I don't really feel an obligation. Like if I lost them, I wouldn't be like, oh my God, I'm so sorry. I'd be like, sorry, man. I tried to hang onto 'em for like six years for no reason. Other than that, I wanted to try and have them for you. It's not like, you know, we're being paid to do this. and, and I, you know, we've already delivered our song. Is also kind of, my stance is like, I, I kind of gave you what I was hired to do already. And the, now that said I've got multiple backups, I haven't lost anything to, to my knowledge. and if something did come back though, and they wanted a tweak four years after it was done, I wouldn't really care if I didn't have some of the plugins, because it's gonna be a different thing anyways, is kind of also my opinion on is like you, you already have the mix file. There's no way they lost that. Um, and if they did, that's crazy. Uh, so if we're, if we're opening up the session years after the fact, it's because we want to do something different. So if I need to choose a new compressor, I'm totally fine with.

Benedikt: Yes, you're totally right. You're probably right. Yeah. And, and then the other thing is, I think you're right. That there is not, you shouldn't be, you shouldn't feel obligated to do that. It's not just not, not part of the job. And I also wanna say that I won't compromise the quality of what I'm delivering just for the flexibility. So I won't, I just want people to understand that, that if, if I feel like. I don't know, I have to do a routing. I have to make a routing decision that, uh, means that I don't know, drums and bass or whatever ends up, end up in the same group. So I, at this point I can't print drums and bass separately anymore. Um, if that is what I need to do to make the mix works, then I'll do that. And then you don't get your drums only stem, sorry. You know, like I won't, I won't compromise that just for the flexibility, but if possible I'll do it, but sometimes it's not. So I'll, I'm, I'm just gonna give you whatever ends up being in my session. and I'm not gonna customize it unless you tell me that you absolutely need this. If P if people are like, Hey, at the end, we, we definitely need this for backing tracks or whatever. Then of course, I, I do. I try to make that work, but if people don't say anything like that, I just do whatever I have to do to make it sound great. And then I will give you whatever I can give you, but I won't compromise the sound just for the different options. 

Malcom: Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent agree sometimes. Like it's all about delivering that mix at the end of the day. Right. Um, and, and making sure those deliverables that we are providing. our, our priority, a hundred percent, the extra deliverables that we're safeguarding for our own purposes, for our own kind of sanity. Like you said, it's the perfectionism in you. That's like, I just need to have these locked down, even though they'll probably never be used. That's really just for you. . Um, and, and, and, and the, like the potentially for the artist kind of thing, but, uh, at the end of the day, yeah. All of our decisions are for, for those actual deliverables that we're sending to the.

Benedikt: A hundred percent. And it's also math in my case because I really did the math and I, I looked at my, I always track my time and I'm like, I'm like crazy like that. I wanna know all the data about everything I do. And, uh, I just figured that always printing everything and having it there. And then just being able to send it out if people need it is faster than. Not doing it and only do it occasionally when somebody asks, but then I have to go back and reopen the session. So that takes more time than just doing it. If I can do it with one click. So I just do it no matter what, even if people never use it, because then I don't have to go back later. If they ask that's just faster for me, if that was like a big effort, I would do it. But like, it's pretty easy with the way I set up my session. So I, I that's, I just do it.

Malcom: That's very cool. Yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense.

Benedikt: That's the only, that's the only thing, but again, it's probably not always a good fit. It's just whatever is in the session. but I think long story short, the main takeaway from this whole episode is that. The, the question that I always get from people is do I need to create a different master for Spotify and apple music and YouTube and all these things? And the clear answer in my opinion, at least is no, there are gonna be mastering engineers who will tell you different things. And some people make 10 different masters for 10 different platforms, I believe. And I've really, and I, I just don't, it's not just something I assume, but I. Done the tests. There's plugins like streamliner, where you can actually listen to the different algorithms. You can obviously print masters, upload them and see what they, and like hear what they sound like. And I've done the tests. And to me it sounds absolutely fine. And perfect. If I just do 1 24 bit 44, 1 master or even 16 bit. If that gets uploaded to all the platforms that just works. I don't feel the need to do anything more than that. That's my personal opinion. And that's the result of the testing that I've done. And I'm not saying I'm right, but maybe I can't hear the differences because there are mastering engineers who believe there is a difference, but I think you shouldn't overthink it. And I think you don't need a separate master for all these different platforms. I think you shouldn't care about. And this is probably a hot take still for some reason, but I think. You shouldn't worry about different loves values, or like loudness values or anything like that. You should just create the master. That sounds best for the song period and not worry about any of those numbers and just upload it. And. Every single platform will do their, whatever they feel like they need to do in terms of loudness, normalization, or any, anything like that. They will change that anyways every year or so. So they have little control over that. So I just wouldn't worry about any of that. I would just provide the best sounding master and let spot if I do whatever they do. And that will just work. That is just my opinion. I have to deliver quiet masters and loud masters. And at the end of the day, it just, to me, it doesn't matter if the master is the best it can sound and then that's just fine for.

Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, like my, my reminder on that topic is always just. Control what we can't control and we can't control if the algorithm's gonna change for how something sounds on any streaming platform tomorrow. So, so worry about our file. If we know this file sounds exactly how we want, what happens down the stream from that is out of our control. Don't sweat it. It's still gonna sound very good.

Benedikt: Yes. And please don't believe the whole, and I'm sure we're gonna get comments on this or questions. Um, there's . Gonna be the, the minus 14 L U F S argument somewhere a hundred percent. That's always the case, but don't believe that because there are songs that sound. Perfect at like, I dunno, minus six and other songs sound great at minus 16. And it's not that you, you know, you, you just have, you just don't have to worry about this. Not at all. Some music sounds better if it's really dense and loud and it's, it's part of the energy that the song just need. So it's actually sounds worse if you make it quieter. And then there's other music that sounds worse if you make it louder, but that has nothing to do with any of the standards or numbers that those platforms give you. It just has to do with if, if what the song needs and if the master is like working for this type of song. So just stop, stop thinking about that entirely. I think just doesn't matter, make sure it doesn't clip, make sure it's as loud as it needs to be, and then deliver that one thing to all the platforms. That's what I believe in

Malcom: agreed. There we go.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah. All right. Perfect. Good. And then, uh, finally, yeah, don't use any that's that's also something don't use any cheap or free like file conversion services on the internet or apps or whatever, if you need a different version for whatever reason, an MP3 or anything else, just ask your mastering engineer or mixing engineer to provide that. If you don't know how to do that, because it's usually pretty easy to do. And. Please don't upload your, your master that you've, you've put so much effort, time and money into, uh, don't upload that, that to some wave to MP3 converter, and then use the result that you get there. That's just never a good idea.

Malcom: it can be tragic. Um, yeah. And I, maybe one last takeaway is just that. You know, what we described as our included deliverables is kind of similar. You're you're probably gonna get something along those lines, no matter who you work with, but there's no harm in just specifying what you were hoping to get as your deliverables. When you work, decide to work with somebody, just, you know, make sure everybody's on the same page. If you're expecting something above, beyond, make sure that's listed, uh, communicate, communicate, communicate, that'll go a long.

Benedikt: A hundred percent communicate. Um, and, and then one final thing that comes to mind too, is like, if you're working with other people that are using your masters for say videos, or I don't know, double check what they're doing and double check the final deliverables there too, because I can tell you how many times I've delivered. Stereo 24 bit, um, 40, uh, yeah, 44, 1 color Hertz master two band. And then they gave that to a video person and then the video got uploaded and then I, I heard it on YouTube and it was all mono or something like that. And so 

Malcom: a podcasts episode itself.

Benedikt: Yeah. Yeah, that happens so often. Like really, honestly, this is just, I don't know, it's ridiculous how often that happens. So please make sure that the video people embed the lost less file and they don't touch it. And they use the thing that we provided there are, there are ways to do that. They shouldn't manipulate that they shouldn't convert it to mono or do anything else with that. Just make sure that what we deliver ends up being in the final product that includes video and everything else that you send out. 

Malcom: Okay. Uh, 

Benedikt: that.

Malcom: we're we're on a tangent now, but I did some research and I think it is that premier pro. For some reason, sometimes we'll take a stereo file and create two mono files. So cuz it's, it is two mono files it's left and a right. But when it imports them and creates those, their pan is just by default set center. So now you've got a kind of mono mix

Benedikt: Ah, got it. Okay. That makes sense. That's similar to, if you using screen flow and you separate the audio from the video, it does the same thing. It creates two tracks and both are mono and you have to pan them left and right.

Malcom: Yes. Yes. Yes. So it is the software working against them, um, in their defense, but it is, uh, unforgivable sin still. So , 

Benedikt: Yeah, 

Malcom: it's gotta be caught in advance.

Benedikt: All right.

Malcom: I will like, honestly, I, if, if I've mixed your song and you're getting a music video, please send it to me. I will happily spend the time to listen to it and make sure that there's nothing going funky with the music video.

Benedikt: Yes. Yes. A hundred percent. All right. Yeah, I think that's about it. Um, and again, as, as always, uh, please reach out and tell us if we. I don't know if there's anything that you always need when you release music that we totally forgot, or if you, I don't know, let, let us know. We always, of course we are always learning and we're always open to, to changing things. And maybe there's a need that bands have that we haven't covered yet. Or I don't know, just let us know in case that that's the case. Maybe you always need a different, I don't know, a certain kind of. Backing track or whatever, just let us know. Also let us know maybe something didn't work for you in the past. Maybe you've tried to upload something and it came out, you know, weird on some platform, anything like that. I'm always interested in, in hearing those things, but I really believe that we've, we've covered it pretty well. And let that in. I don't know, 99, 90 9% of all cases, the 1 24 bit or 60 bit 44, 1 master will do.

Malcom: yeah, a hundred percent.

Benedikt: All right. Talk to you next week. Thank you for listening.

Malcom: See you next week. Take care.

Benedikt: take care.


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