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Target audio formats for 2019?
Old 9th March 2019
  #1
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StoneyBCN's Avatar
 

Target audio formats for 2019?

Hi all,

I'll start by saying thanks if you're reading this. I'm looking for some info about target delivery specs for audio platforms in 2019. I had a brief scan through this forum for such a thread and came up fairly short, and I really respect the knowledge and experience levels of some of the fine folks over here, so I'll be all ears if anyone has the time.

Considering the myriad platforms of music delivery in daily use in 2019, I'm just wondering in terms of specs like sample rate, bit depth, encoding formats, and such are generally requested, or expected from the mastering houses these days? I assume a 44.1/16 bit CD master copy is (just about) still a standard. What about streaming? Should one be uploading a master 48/24 wav around -14 LUFS to ALL platforms, and let the bots do their evil things accordingly? Is it more common to deliver MP4's, AAC's, or some kind of "standardized" group of codecs, to cover all the general use cases out there?

Bonus question: what about instrumental copies, mono copies, push the vocal by a grain of rice copies? All formats too?

Please consider this seperately from discussions about gain staging/brickwall limiting/bus processing used in the process where possible. My question and curiosity is with the final delivery formats themselves.

Cheers!
Old 9th March 2019
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneyBCN View Post
Hi all,

I'll start by saying thanks if you're reading this. I'm looking for some info about target delivery specs for audio platforms in 2019. I had a brief scan through this forum for such a thread and came up fairly short, and I really respect the knowledge and experience levels of some of the fine folks over here, so I'll be all ears if anyone has the time.

Considering the myriad platforms of music delivery in daily use in 2019, I'm just wondering in terms of specs like sample rate, bit depth, encoding formats, and such are generally requested, or expected from the mastering houses these days? I assume a 44.1/16 bit CD master copy is (just about) still a standard. What about streaming? Should one be uploading a master 48/24 wav around -14 LUFS to ALL platforms, and let the bots do their evil things accordingly? Is it more common to deliver MP4's, AAC's, or some kind of "standardized" group of codecs, to cover all the general use cases out there?

Bonus question: what about instrumental copies, mono copies, push the vocal by a grain of rice copies? All formats too?

Please consider this seperately from discussions about gain staging/brickwall limiting/bus processing used in the process where possible. My question and curiosity is with the final delivery formats themselves.

Cheers!

It depends. I would give it to whereever the way they want it.

Personally for me all I want is CD quality 44.1/16 although I will work with higher bit length and sample rates before making my final at CD.

I do not use streaming but I thought some wanted mp3s
And it is likely that there are other formats that other places want.

So it depends on WHERE you plan to send the file to be used.
Old 9th March 2019
  #3
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

The majority of services will only accept 16/44 wave. Those that offer 'HD' streaming/download will accept higher. It's a good idea to avoid sending lossy formats because they will be re-encoded into whatever codec the service uses.

I made a page on my site with all the current streaming specs because I get asked a lot. While slightly removed from what you're asking, you may be interested to see how things end up.

Streaming | SmoothTone Mastering

Last edited by SmoothTone; 10th March 2019 at 12:43 AM..
Old 9th March 2019
  #4
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StoneyBCN's Avatar
 

Thanks for the response!

To be clear, this is related to a project I'm partly responsible for on the artistic side and also heavily the engineering side, and I've deduced that working ITB in this age, it's best to focus on sounding good on these target platforms at mix (even tracking) stage - not necessarily reaching for the brickwalled 8bit Soundstage effect, but getting an even pulse on the bass and appropriate peaks from drum mics and running sessions at a "decent" sample rate (lots of synths and amp sims going on here), so that we can build stuff from the ground up that doesn't require heavy downstream processing. I'd like to deliver mixes that a mastering engineer would appreciate, and I'd like it to translate well out in the field.

I just delivered a final mix that was done at 48k/32fp from initial tracking to final print (OK, tracked at 24 bit and mixed at 32fp), and printed a CD copy (44.1/16) and streaming/general use copy (48/24), plus 320 kbps MP3 and AAC for reference. I suspect that the two wav's will cover all general purpose needs though, thanks to the implicit down-sampling/converting etc applied natively by these modern hosts?

Is there a "best" format for highstreet aggregators for online distribution? I noticed that the "mastered for iTunes" format recommends 96k (or thereabouts?) for the conversion process, but my 48/24 mix seems to be widely accepted by most platforms (SoundCloud, iTunes...) for their own native munch-down of that wav.

Im inclined to work at 48/24 for final delivery, do a 44.1 CD copy, and the same again sans vocal, then vocal pushed, etc. Let the hosts crunch down my best, most purest wav.

Is there not some kind of red book standard for these things yet that I should check out?
Old 9th March 2019
  #5
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StoneyBCN's Avatar
 

Thank you Mr Smoothtone, I was replying to Mr Sixpack while you wrote that so my previous reply doesn't incorporate your feedback.

I am grateful for the link and will certainly feast upon it at a less sociable hour. Cheers!

Again though, your response leaves me inclined to deliver my native sample rate of 48k, dithered to 24 bit, and a 44.1/16 bit ref copy. No harm in mp3/AAC for direct shares, but to give the hosts my best possible 2tr print.

Happy to keep this going though.
Old 10th March 2019
  #6
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SmoothTone's Avatar
 

48/24 is great. Some aggregators will only accept 44/16, however, which is the closest thing to a standard that we have these days and serves the music just fine IMHO.
Old 24th March 2019
  #7
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

This article I wrote a few years ago is (for better or worse) still very relevant:

The Mastering Guide to Audio Formats and Delivery Mediums (UPDATED: 2019)

The URL says 2014 but I updated it recently.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
The three formats requested more than any others here are: 16/44 with DDP for CD, 24/44 for online distribution, and 24/96 with less limiting for vinyl and/or HD.
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