Reference Copies and Approval


The purpose of the reference copy is to give you a chance to hear your finished master start to finish in a listening environment that you are familiar with.  Whether your favourite system is your car stereo, headphones, your studio monitors, whatever - we understand the importance of checking your master in that setting.  

Once the reference copy has been approved we proceed with the production master. 

Production Master Formats

CD Production Masters: 

There are two master formats for CD manufacturing:

  • DDP Master: Our recommended master format, it can be delivered to the manufacturer electronically, saving time and shipping costs.

  • Audio CD Master: A standard audio CD, but with a few extra levels of proofing and error checking here to guarantee trouble-free manufacturing. Only used for short run duplication projects that cannot use DDP masters.

Vinyl Masters:

Vinyl is enjoying a healthy renaissance - over 30% of current projects mastered here are slated for vinyl release.

We've developed a workflow to create vinyl optimized masters alongside your CD and digital versions with minimal extra studio time required.

Wherever possible we create high resolution vinyl cutting masters (typically 24 bit / 96 kHz or even analog tape for all analog cutting), and we work directly with some of the world's best lacquer cutting engineers to make sure that your lacquer masters best represent the source master - all of this to ensure that the vinyl version of your release actually takes full advantage of what the format offers, and is NOT just a transfer of the digital version to vinyl.

We’re also accustomed to navigating the vagarities of the vinyl manufacturing chain, and we'd be happy to help you choose a pressing facility appropriate for the requirements of your project.


Standard Digital Masters: 

Typically we provide at minimum WAV and MP3 versions of your digital masters.  The WAVs are what you’ll use for all streaming and download services, such as Spotify, Apple Music, CD Baby, Distrokid, Bandcamp, and so on.  

The ubiquitous MP3 versions are included for convenience and promo purposes.

We can include other formats upon request, such as FLAC and AAC - just let us know what you need. 

Hi - Resolution Digital Masters:

Typically 24 bit 96 kHz WAV files, suitable for Tidal MQA encoding, HDTracks, and other hi-res digital outlets. This is an add-on option not necessary for most releases.  

Apple Digital Masters: 

Archive Mastering is an Apple-authorized provider for the Apple Digital Masters program, and we can provide you with a separate set of digital master files that conform to the Apple Digital Masters specifications. 

Typically these are provided only at the request of a label participating in the Apple Digital Masters program. Independent artists can skip this option unless you've made special arrangements with your digital aggregator.