Audio Examples

One thing to keep in mind while listening is to remember that every project shares a different vision and what applies to one mix will almost certainly NOT apply to another. Enjoy.

Here is a fantastic song by Look Afraid with a great mix by Mitch Wyatt of Sounds Underground.



I love this clip because the changes are very subtle and tasteful. Everything good mastering is to me. It is also extremely dynamic for the volume level we achieved.

Mastering Q&A!

Q: What sources do you accept?
A: We accept AIFF, APE, FLAC, SD2, and WAVE files, as well as audio CD. You can mail them to us on CD-R/DVD-R, hard drive, or upload them to our FTP server.

Q: Can you master from an analog source?
A: No, we only master from digital sources. This ensures the upkeep costs on our equipment stays low. You can, however, have your analog source captured digitally on your own converter and sent to us. We recommend doing this at 24-bit 192 kHz to preserve all of the glorious analog details.

Q: What bit depth and sample rate should my files be in before I send them to you.
A: Simple answer, the exact quality you recorded them in. The higher the better. Please do not convert bit depth or sample rate before you send them to us. We have high quality converters that sound amazing specifically for this purpose.

Q: Can I use a compressor on my master bus?
A: Unless it's applied very conservatively for glue/color we don't recommend it.

Q: Can I use an EQ on my master bus?
A: We don't recommend it.

Q: How much headroom should I leave on my mix?
A: We prefer mixes come in between -20 dB RMS and -14 dB RMS while making sure you never clip the master bus. Miracles have been performed with far less headroom, but again we don't recommend it.

Q: Should I normalize my files before I send them?
A: Never.

Q: Should I fade-in and fade-out my mixes before bringing them to be mastered?
A: This is entirely up to you. We often apply fades during the editing process. If you apply fade-ins and fade-outs during mixing, we generally leave those fades intact. However, just like master bus compression, it is sometimes difficult to modify an existing fade. If you choose to apply your own fades, we recommend that you also provide an additional version without the fades.

Q: Do you use the Waves plugins?
A: This is where I lose work, ha. I use exactly one plugin made by Waves and that is the Renaissance Compressor. Regardless of what marketing hype and the retail price of the Waves plugs says to you they are, in my opinion, not suitable for mastering. There are many FREE and nearly free plugins out there doing a better job than what's in the Waves mastering bundle.

Q: But the Waves plugins are the best and cost $10,000!
A: No, they're not. Seriously. The sooner we all stop judging studios and engineers by the plugins they use we'll all be better for it.

Q: Why are your rates so low?
A: Several factors contribute to this. For starters, Neon is based out of a (mostly) digital home studio. This keeps business overhead and equipment upkeep costs to the bare minimum. Finally, we are firm believers in DIY ethics and believe everyone should have the means to put out a great sounding record, not just record labels.

Neon Mastering Rates

For all new clients I can provide you with a 60 second sample of my service to show you what all this business is about!

All mastering includes digital delivery in .flac, .wav, or DDP format via FTP for free. Turnaround time is within 5 business days. If you need something faster contact us and we can work out a rush fee.

  • Single - $30.00 USD
  • 2-6 Tracks - $27.00 USD/Track (10% Discount)
  • 7-12 Tracks - $24.00 USD/Track (20% Discount)
  • Additional Tracks - $21.00 USD/Track (30% Discount)
For example a 12 track long play will cost a total of $309.00 ($30.00 for track 1, $135.00 for tracks 2-6, and $144.00 for tracks 7-12)

50% nonrefundable deposit required for all new clients.

All mastering includes free digital delivery and one free CD-R copy if requested.

Stem Mastering Rates

  • Single - $45.00 USD
  • 2-6 Tracks - $40.50 USD/Track (10% Discount)
  • 7-12 Tracks - $36.00 USD/Track (20% Discount)
  • Additional Tracks - $31.50 USD/Track (30% Discount)
For example a 12 track long play will cost a total of $463.50 ($45.00 for track 1, $202.50 for tracks 2-6, and $216.00 for tracks 7-12)

Stem mastering affords more control over your final master but does take more time hence the higher cost. Stem mastering is preferred when you need multiple versions of a single track but don't want to incur the separate costs of vocal up, vocal down, clean, and instrumental versions. 

  • CD-R Copy¹ $5.00
  • DVD-R Copy² $10.00
  • MP3 Version³ $10.00
Referral Program
  • Earn a 10% commission for everyone you refer to Neon. This can be applied to your next order or paid in the form of a check.
¹ CD-R copy is an audio disc identical to the one shipped to the manufacturer and includes free shipping anywhere in the USA.
² DVD-R copy is a data disc with high resolution 24-bit 96kHz wav backup files of your masters and includes free shipping anywhere in the USA.
³ MP3s are level optimized to ensure there are no intersample peaks after digital to analog conversion and are delivered, properly tagged, in a bit rate you specify.

An Introduction to Audio Mastering

You may find yourself, a young mixing engineer, frequently asking yourself the question "Why aren't my mixes as full and loud as commercial mixes?" The answer, my friend, is mastering.

Mastering is a black art to some. Very little information regarding the process was available to the public at large until recently. Simply put, mastering is a form of post production and the final step between the mixing board and the manufacturing plant. Getting your mixes ready for show time with a variety of signal processing that can include additional eq, compression, and limiting. The biggest difference between the mixing and mastering stages of a recording is that the processing for mastering is applied to the entire mix as opposed to the individual tracks.

A common misconception is that mastering a recording is all about volume. While it's true that during the mastering process the overall volume is brought up, that is only a very small part of the overall task. The main goal of mastering is to make sure all frequencies are well represented in the spectrum and that the recording sounds as good as it can on a wide range of playback systems from multi-thousand dollar hi-fi systems to tiny cell phone speakers.

Nearly 100% of all recordings benefit from at least some part of mastering. Whether it's making hip-hop and rock tracks in your face, or making sure every nuance of a symphony orchestra is heard. It's the mastering engineer who has the experience, equipment, and the ears to make this happen.

Other mastering processes include putting the tracks into their final playlist order as well as things like fade ins, fade outs, cd text, and hidden tracks. Finally assembling everything into a distribution medium i.e. CD, DVD, and MP3.

Hopefully this helps put a few things into perspective before you have your project mastered. If you would like to know more, here is some great recommended reading on the subject...