Part 1-Lossy Codec
This is part one of a five part mini series.
Dont send your M.E(mastering engineer) the .mp3 file that you got from your mix engineer. Yes i know its easier to send an mp3 over the internet due to an mp3's small data size, but always, always, always send the original lossless uncompressed file that you will get from your mix engineer wether its .wav or .flac or whatever.
Mp3's or .aac codecs are called lossy codecs for a reason. Think about it, when a lossless codec is shrunk into a lossy codec you are shrinking a large file into a small file, so something has to give. A normal .wav file can be 75mb, after conversion to mp3 at 320kbps it now becomes 7mb approx (not exact numbers). So to do this there will inevitably be a loss in data.
What happens when a file is converted to a lossy codec. So data is lost. Most recordings are recorded at 48khz sample rate meaning the recording gear can potentially capture up to 0-24khz in the real world. human hearing is rated at 20hz-20khz anything lower or above is inaudible(it can be felt) So one of the things that is happening when converting to a lossy codec is the converter gets rid of the data that we cannot hear. Doing this will keep the recording intact while reducing the data size. Also compression is happening to also bring the data size down (data compression not audio compression) however this data compression does have an audible effect. A 320kps conversion is a very good conversion making the artifacts of compression almost non detectable.
So why cant you send your .mp3 to your mastering engineer to me mastered. Well once its been converted to a lossy format there is no restoring it to the original file. Yes we can convert it back into a .wav file be it will be a .wav file of the lossy .mp3. The low lows and super highs will be cut off and the artifacts from the compression will be present. Mastering can be done but ultimately your not getting the best possible product for commercial release. A M.E is almost like a scientist of audio we want to have the absolute best possible sample in order to provide you with the best possible listening experience.
Next week we will talk about mastering bad mixes and the results some clients expect to get from them...