Online Mastering is a mathematical and algorithm-based online mastering service offered by many different industries. Online Mastering services tend to offer a lower cost and fast turnaround, but at the sacrifice of timeliness, quality formats, a unique ability to mix a track in a very different way, or even full album mastering. Online Mastering (sometimes called CD Audio mastering) tends to be the final product of audio mastering done for CDs or DVDs as opposed to the traditional mastering done for records or music mixes. Mastering for these media often involves complex setups involving multiple mastering studios and different players, each running different versions of the same audio file(s). Online Mastering, on the other hand, tends to be the equivalent of transferring a compressed file, such as wav or mp3, to a compressed format as seen on a CD or DVD.
CD online mastering services usually use what’s called an algorithmic Mastering service. This type of online mastering service tends to use mathematical algorithms as opposed to traditional mastering methods, such as conventional mixing. Algorithmic online mastering services are sometimes used for on-demand recording or broadcast. In other cases, the service may be used as a final mastering finish for a disc jockey to send over to radio stations wanting to play the track. There are also situations in which the online mastering service is used to “pre-record” tracks with the audio already recorded and ready to go over the Internet.
A good example of an algorithmic mastering service is the “online mastering” offered by the legal music distribution company Limewee. Limewee takes a variety of audio files and compresses them into one or more compressed tracks. Each of the tracks can then be played in order by any number of players (including computers, iPods and iTunes). Because each song is only about 45 seconds long, the files are easy to download and to reorder using MP3 and other computer media players. The length of multiple songs can be lengthened or shortened using an unlimited number of players and computers as well. Since each song can have its own unique compressed track, this is an excellent solution for increasing production capabilities and saving money in the production process.
A limitation of the services offered by some Online Mastering studios is that they cannot master any high volume audio files. If a mastering engineer is unable to master a given file in this way, it will be returned to the customer. In addition, many online mastering studios require that all files be submitted via electronic mail. Therefore, if you have a large music file that needs to be mastered, you may need to include a scanned copy of your original master.
Some engineers who work for online mastering studios will offer sound engineering services as well. You will need to ask an engineer about these extra services and whether they are included with the service or not. This is not normally required, but if they are not included, it may save you money in the long run. Sometimes an engineer will offer sound engineering services to a company’s employees who work off site in order to increase their production capabilities. The additional fees may be worth the added value.
An additional benefit to hiring an engineer online is that you will usually be working with someone who is very familiar with the new technologies that are being used to produce better sound quality. This is a great advantage for clients who may be concerned about sacrificing sound quality in order to save time. However, if the client demands the best sound quality, they will be happy to pay more for the enhanced product as long as it comes with the service included.