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 CD version to vinyl.

We've also put a lot of time and effort into finding the best cost / quality ratio throughout the vinyl manufacturing chain, and we'd be happy to help you choose a pressing facility appropriate for the requirements of your project.


Mastered for iTunes: 

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

As of early 2012 the encoder Apple uses for files sold via the iTunes store can work with 24 bit / 96kHz hi-resolution files, resulting in much better sounding AAC files than those created using the standard CD or digital masters. 

Additionally there is much sonic benefit from making a separate iTunes-ready master even for independent artists who are not participating in the Mastered for iTunes program, such as those submitting to iTunes via CDBaby or Tunecore.  

Using tools provided by Apple to check the encoded output of your hi-resolution masters, we can optimize your masters for the best sounding results in the AAC format.

Contact us at or 902.461.9992 for more information about Mastered for iTunes.  

Standard Digital Masters: 

Typically we provide at minimum WAV and MP3 versions of your digital masters.  The WAVs are proper proofed masters and can be used for iTunes, CD Baby, Tunecore, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, radio, etc.  

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.