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.

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