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Mum, Where Do DDPs Come From?
Old 10th December 2019
  #1
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Mum, Where Do DDPs Come From?

Hey all,

About to get my record mastered tomorrow. The mastering house I'm going with would charge an extra $500 to make a DDP. As I understand it, DDPs are just a framework for CD production and have nothing to do with the sound of the tracks? So I'm thinking I'm better off saving the money and doing it myself (I'm mainly paying for the engineer's ears). Is there any reason why it would be worth paying that much extra to have a professional mastering house do that stuff? And also, if I do it myself, what software will I need?

MFiT and 'HD' would also each cost the same amount extra, both of which I'm forgoing.

Cheers,
Dan
Old 10th December 2019
  #2
pho
Gear Head
Is there any chance of this being a typo? Charging an extra 50$ for providing a DDP/MFiT/HD (whatever "HD" means?) moves this into an "OK-area", 500$ sounds absolutely nuts. I'd call them and straight out ask them if this is a mistake. Are they at least offering you a puppy on top of their service?
Old 10th December 2019
  #3
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kroc View Post
Hey all,

About to get my record mastered tomorrow. The mastering house I'm going with would charge an extra $500 to make a DDP. As I understand it, DDPs are just a framework for CD production and have nothing to do with the sound of the tracks? So I'm thinking I'm better off saving the money and doing it myself (I'm mainly paying for the engineer's ears). Is there any reason why it would be worth paying that much extra to have a professional mastering house do that stuff? And also, if I do it myself, what software will I need?

MFiT and 'HD' would also each cost the same amount extra, both of which I'm forgoing.

Cheers,
Dan
500 is rather high, sure its not $50?
Old 10th December 2019
  #4
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Kroc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pho View Post
Is there any chance of this being a typo? Charging an extra 50$ for providing a DDP/MFiT/HD (whatever "HD" means?) moves this into an "OK-area", 500$ sounds absolutely nuts. I'd call them and straight out ask them if this is a mistake. Are they at least offering you a puppy on top of their service?
Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
500 is rather high, sure its not $50?
Direct quote from the email:

"If you need wavs in sequence for a production master the prices are as follows:
DDP (cd)- $500
MFiT - $500
HD - $500
Vinyl master - $427.50 (to use for cutting vinyl)"

It's a BIG mastering house, so I'm not surprised if they're charging top dollar.
Old 10th December 2019
  #5
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Kroc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pho View Post
DDP/MFiT/HD (whatever "HD" means?)
I'm thinking 'HD' might be lossless masters for services like Tidal or something?
Old 10th December 2019
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pho View Post
Is there any chance of this being a typo? Charging an extra 50$ for providing a DDP/MFiT/HD (whatever "HD" means?) moves this into an "OK-area", 500$ sounds absolutely nuts. I'd call them and straight out ask them if this is a mistake. Are they at least offering you a puppy on top of their service?
That's not an unusual charge from a pro mastering house. The part needs to be created and QC'ed. That will take at least an hour (probably 1.5-2). I don't know many pro mastering houses charging $50/hr. Sure, most anyone can create a DDP. What you're paying for is the peace of mind that it's 100% right and ready for production. Having said that, if this is for a smaller run and the client needs to save money they could try to create it, but they're running the risk of creating thousands of coasters.
Old 10th December 2019
  #7
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Kroc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Lyman View Post
That's not an unusual charge from a pro mastering house. The part needs to be created and QC'ed. That will take at least an hour (probably 1.5-2). I don't know many pro mastering houses charging $50/hr. Sure, most anyone can create a DDP. What you're paying for is the peace of mind that it's 100% right and ready for production. Having said that, if this is for a smaller run and the client needs to save money they could try to create it, but they're running the risk of creating thousands of coasters.
Hi Pete! Thanks for the input. I'm sure they're super busy (they're more like $425/hour); If I were to get the DDP done professionally, would there be any downside to just taking the masters from this engineer and sending them to another more affordable engineer for the DDP?
To me, it's worth paying the extra money to have this particular engineer who has mastered some of my favourite albums put the final touches on my project. But I probably don't need to waste that same person's time (or my own cash) on the DDP part. I'm guessing the results would probably be the same from any other place? Is there any advantage to having it all be done by the same person?

Cheers.
Old 10th December 2019
  #8
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kroc View Post
Hi Pete! Thanks for the input. I'm sure they're super busy (they're more like $425/hour); If I were to get the DDP done professionally, would there be any downside to just taking the masters from this engineer and sending them to another more affordable engineer for the DDP?
To me, it's worth paying the extra money to have this particular engineer who has mastered some of my favourite albums put the final touches on my project. But I probably don't need to waste that same person's time (or my own cash) on the DDP part. I'm guessing the results would probably be the same from any other place? Is there any advantage to having it all be done by the same person?

Cheers.
You could also ask for 16441 WAV files and purchase a DDP creator. That would require some research on your end to learn about the file/format. You'd want to create the file set, burn a disc, and realtime QC. Then create a zip file of the ddp (with MD5 checksum), unzip to verify the MD5 checksum and then you could send to mnfg. That's risky. You're really paying for that mastering house's expertise and quality control. No offense to anyone offering lower tiered mastering rates but you get what you pay for. Sure it's $500 but you'll know it's 100% correct. The problem with having someone else do it is that they didn't do the mastering, which makes the QC complicated. There's nothing worse than saving a few hundred bucks on the production part and getting back 1000 coasters due to a mistake on the DDP. Ask them if they have any wiggle room on the DDP price. You may be surprised. Just be polite about it and they may help you out. No mastering house wants someone else to cut their parts.
Old 10th December 2019
  #9
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An assistant could do this and probably will. It's not hard and it's not a judgement call that requires experience and trained ears. It's clerical work.
Old 10th December 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Moran View Post
An assistant could do this and probably will. It's not hard and it's not a judgement call that requires experience and trained ears. It's clerical work.
Creating a master part for production doesn't require trained ears? Of course an assistant will do this type of work. It's not hard but does require some know-how. If this was something anyone could do they wouldn't charge a premium for it. It still makes sense to have a professional do it. the artist has one chance to get the record done right. Why skimp on the production master?
Old 10th December 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Lyman View Post
Creating a master part for production doesn't require trained ears? Of course an assistant will do this type of work. It's not hard but does require some know-how. If this was something anyone could do they wouldn't charge a premium for it. It still makes sense to have a professional do it. the artist has one chance to get the record done right. Why skimp on the production master?
The heavy lifting on tones, levels and sequence timing is done by the time you encode a DDP. A qualified assistant can handily enter ISRC, UPC and the other metadata in an offline room as well as the final encode and zip file creation. I have a separate space for doing that as well as MFiT checks. You charge a premium and if the market will accept the rate, it's a great profit center so they do it.
Old 10th December 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Moran View Post
The heavy lifting on tones, levels and sequence timing is done by the time you encode a DDP. A qualified assistant can handily enter ISRC, UPC and the other metadata in an offline room as well as the final encode and zip file creation. I have a separate space for doing that as well as MFiT checks. You charge a premium and if the market will accept the rate, it's a great profit center so they do it.
Yes, I understand how a DDP is created (not my first rodeo...). FWIW, I don't charge $500 for a DDP (but do charge more than $50) but understand the value in the part. I assume you pay your assistant to QC and create the part? I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you saying there's no value to having an experienced engineer create a master part?

I have no horse in the race. However, it rubs me the wrong way when folks de-value our trade by suggesting anyone could do it. If that were the case they would be doing it. There seem to be quite a few mastering operations spitting out every format and supplying them without a proper QC. That's the most important aspect of our job.
Old 11th December 2019
  #13
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Everyone gets paid but not the same. The overhead allocation in capital cost is different too.
Analogously, there is a difference between the mechanic who does an oil change and the mechanic who builds Formula 1 race engines. Charging Formula 1 rates for an oil change doesn't burnish the mechanics image either which is why this topic came up in the first place.
Old 11th December 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kroc View Post
I'm guessing the results would probably be the same from any other place? Is there any advantage to having it all be done by the same person?
Your instincts are correct.

If the DDP is created from 16/44.1 master files supplied by the original ME then files extracted from the DDP image should null with the originals regardless of who created the image (and how much it cost).

You just want to make sure whoever does it has proper QC procedures and can ensure the integrity of the audio and that any codes/text are correct.

Last edited by SmoothTone; 11th December 2019 at 06:06 AM.. Reason: Clarity
Old 11th December 2019
  #15
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Kroc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Lyman View Post
I have no horse in the race. However, it rubs me the wrong way when folks de-value our trade by suggesting anyone could do it. If that were the case they would be doing it. There seem to be quite a few mastering operations spitting out every format and supplying them without a proper QC. That's the most important aspect of our job.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Lyman View Post
Creating a master part for production doesn't require trained ears? Of course an assistant will do this type of work. It's not hard but does require some know-how. If this was something anyone could do they wouldn't charge a premium for it. It still makes sense to have a professional do it. the artist has one chance to get the record done right. Why skimp on the production master?
Just for reference, aside from being the artist, I also own a studio space and have a bachelor in audio engineering. I self-produced and mixed this album. Which is why I’m spending money now to get someone highly qualified involved and have another set of trained ears put that final polish on. I know the record would suffer if I didn’t delegate in situations that really benefit from experience in specialized fields.

I’m definitely more technically capable than some artists and I try to avoid paying for things I could do just as well on my own. Which is why I’m asking about this. But I wouldn’t consider myself qualified in the highly specialized field of mastering. What you guys do is awesome, and it takes a long time to develop the objectivity and instincts to make a record sound ‘right’. The last thing I’d want to do is devalue that. Lord knows there’s enough of that nonsense with those sites that pump your track through an algorithm to give you ‘Pro mastering’.



However, I’m also probably more than qualified to do most clerical tasks. I suppose the main thing I’m wondering is, what sort of problems will I encounter if I do happen to screw it up? Or, what issues could slip past me if I don't know what to look for? Will the sound be degraded at all?
Old 11th December 2019
  #16
Reaper DAW can create DDP files. I have never used the feature personally, but the process seems pretty straightforward:
Old 11th December 2019
  #17
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You can blame Doug Carson for DDP!

http://www.dcainc.com/products/ddplicense/index.html

cheers, JT
Old 11th December 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kroc View Post
Direct quote from the email:

"If you need wavs in sequence for a production master the prices are as follows:
DDP (cd)- $500
MFiT - $500
HD - $500
Vinyl master - $427.50 (to use for cutting vinyl)"

It's a BIG mastering house, so I'm not surprised if they're charging top dollar.
I'm sorry but those prices don't make sense, how could it be more expensive to do a DDP than the Vinyl Master ? Vinyl version takes way more time and requires trained ears.
Old 11th December 2019
  #19
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wildplum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kroc View Post
Direct quote from the email:

"If you need wavs in sequence for a production master the prices are as follows:
DDP (cd)- $500"
I noticed that the DDP includes sequencing. Is that correct- all you are getting it the mastered wav files (16/441 or something else?- I deliver both 16/441 and 24/whatever to the client, just in case, along with the DDP)?

If that is correct, then you are getting a bit more than just the DDP; things like the timing between songs, possibly fade ins/outs, checking of the sequence, etc.

However, all of this does NOT, in my book, add up to $500.

(As an aside- and this might get me in a lot of trouble around here- but I think artist do-it-yourself recording and mixing and then professional mastering has it the wrong way around. IMO, the recording/mixing process is more important than mastering; indeed, a really good recording/mix needs very little, if anything, in the way of mastering; while mastering can only do so much to correct errors made during recording/mastering.)
Old 11th December 2019
  #20
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All stages of production are important and the final result can suffer from any weak link in that chain. That being said, creating a DDP is fairly mundane and needn't cost more than $50-$150 imo.
Old 11th December 2019
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conundra View Post
All stages of production are important and the final result can suffer from any weak link in that chain. That being said, creating a DDP is fairly mundane and needn't cost more than $50-$150 imo.
I agree, to me this are rates aimed at top industry clients (big lables). I would go someplace else to do the ddp if i was in your situation. Or read it up and diy if time allows.
Old 11th December 2019
  #22
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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Just nuts but everything is charged for in the top mastering houses. Gateway even tacks on a "hospitality charge" for their coffee and water. Buyer beware...you don't always get what you pay for...
Old 11th December 2019
  #23
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Riccardo's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conundra View Post
All stages of production are important and the final result can suffer from any weak link in that chain. That being said, creating a DDP is fairly mundane and needn't cost more than $50-$150 imo.
Yes, I agree 100% with Conundra, 50 to 100 on average for a DDP that includes sequencing, spacing, text, isrc and upc codes AND verification before delivery to the customer or the plant.

I also understand that quote and can roughly guess where it is coming from (i.e. which mastering facility) with high profile names and overheads so I am not criticizing here as everybody has a different business model and overheads.
Having said that if you want to save an option would be to sequence, space and QC the DDP yourself with the purchase of a basic DDP application or add on depending on what DAW you use. Or maybe outsource to a local mastering engineer? Just a thought.

I personally do not charge for Hi-Res at all. Small extra charge for special format including mfit and vinyl pre masters if in addition to a standard delivery yes and I believe most on this board are on a similar practice.
Old 11th December 2019
  #24
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http://ddp.andreasruge.de/documentation

I think it's great to make so much money out of so little work. The wonders of supply and demand

Last edited by FabienTDR; 11th December 2019 at 04:37 PM..
Old 11th December 2019
  #25
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kroc View Post
Just for reference, aside from being the artist, I also own a studio space and have a bachelor in audio engineering. I self-produced and mixed this album. Which is why I’m spending money now to get someone highly qualified involved and have another set of trained ears put that final polish on. I know the record would suffer if I didn’t delegate in situations that really benefit from experience in specialized fields.

I’m definitely more technically capable than some artists and I try to avoid paying for things I could do just as well on my own. Which is why I’m asking about this. But I wouldn’t consider myself qualified in the highly specialized field of mastering. What you guys do is awesome, and it takes a long time to develop the objectivity and instincts to make a record sound ‘right’. The last thing I’d want to do is devalue that. Lord knows there’s enough of that nonsense with those sites that pump your track through an algorithm to give you ‘Pro mastering’.



However, I’m also probably more than qualified to do most clerical tasks. I suppose the main thing I’m wondering is, what sort of problems will I encounter if I do happen to screw it up? Or, what issues could slip past me if I don't know what to look for? Will the sound be degraded at all?
If you feel comfortable (and it sounds like you would have no problem) I'd say go for it. Just make sure to QC the final product.
Old 11th December 2019
  #26
Gear Maniac
 

i don't care if God is mastering that album, 500 is way way way too much for a DDP.
it takes maybe 20-30 minutes to create, then the length of the album to QC-- and usually it's very obvious right away if something is wrong with the DDP (can't remember a time i heard something in the middle of a track that made me have to redo the DDP).
it takes no listening or mastering skills whatsoever, it's a pure technical chore of adding DDP markers to the album sequence using your preferred software.

i would never tell a client to do it themselves, since i like to be responsible for all the finishing steps of the project once they hand it to me. but in your case i would certainly recommend just downloading Reaper and watching a video tutorial about how to make one. buy HOFA DDP Player Maker to QC it and make a player and burn CDs. make sure you burn a CD and listen to it somewhere else so you can really make sure it works.

i totally understand having some big name master your album for 400 or 500 an hour or whatever their rate is. but for them to then turn and charge you another 500 for the DDP is just straight up highway robbery-- they are taking advantage of you and i don't like it.
Old 11th December 2019
  #27
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When I master, I frequently don’t notice all the little pops and clicks and occasionally a big error like an ID out of place or whatnot. I’m listening big picture and usually too busy to go over the entire thing with a fine toothed comb. That’s where the QC process comes in. Doesn’t matter what the deliverable format is. Any master that goes out gets carefully scrutinized. Either by me or an assistant. Not always, but frequently enough, I will go back to the master session and declick or fix something. I hate QC’ing but it’s a part of pro mastering. I don’t feel bad about charging what might seem to some, a pretty penny.
For folks that are on a very tight budget, I might sometimes tell them to QC it themselves, even though I make the masters. Making a DDP takes no time at all.
Dave
Old 11th December 2019
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogoftears View Post
i don't care if God is mastering that album, 500 is way way way too much for a DDP.
it takes maybe 20-30 minutes to create, then the length of the album to QC-- and usually it's very obvious right away if something is wrong with the DDP (can't remember a time i heard something in the middle of a track that made me have to redo the DDP).
it takes no listening or mastering skills whatsoever, it's a pure technical chore of adding DDP markers to the album sequence using your preferred software.

i would never tell a client to do it themselves, since i like to be responsible for all the finishing steps of the project once they hand it to me. but in your case i would certainly recommend just downloading Reaper and watching a video tutorial about how to make one. buy HOFA DDP Player Maker to QC it and make a player and burn CDs. make sure you burn a CD and listen to it somewhere else so you can really make sure it works.

i totally understand having some big name master your album for 400 or 500 an hour or whatever their rate is. but for them to then turn and charge you another 500 for the DDP is just straight up highway robbery-- they are taking advantage of you and i don't like it.
Not justifying their rate, but how is that taking advantage? Again, you're paying for the peace of mind and expertise of a house that has probably made tens of thousands of parts. Can it be easily made with software? Of course. But, it still needs to be QC'ed and delivered. It sounds like the OP has the skillset to be able to do this on their own. But, they'll need to buy the software, do their homework and spend the time creating the parts. How much is that time worth? These charges seem pretty standard for a pro mastering house.
Old 11th December 2019
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Lyman View Post
Not justifying their rate, but how is that taking advantage? Again, you're paying for the peace of mind and expertise of a house that has probably made tens of thousands of parts. Can it be easily made with software? Of course. But, it still needs to be QC'ed and delivered. It sounds like the OP has the skillset to be able to do this on their own. But, they'll need to buy the software, do their homework and spend the time creating the parts. How much is that time worth? These charges seem pretty standard for a pro mastering house.
In addition, the main function of a mastering engineer is to create the master parts for production. Why is it an issue to charge for it? If you can't afford a new Corvette buy a Toyota. No reason to complain that the Corvette costs too much.
Old 11th December 2019
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcsnare View Post
When I master, I frequently don’t notice all the little pops and clicks and occasionally a big error like an ID out of place or whatnot. I’m listening big picture and usually too busy to go over the entire thing with a fine toothed comb. That’s where the QC process comes in. Doesn’t matter what the deliverable format is. Any master that goes out gets carefully scrutinized. Either by me or an assistant. Not always, but frequently enough, I will go back to the master session and declick or fix something. I hate QC’ing but it’s a part of pro mastering. I don’t feel bad about charging what might seem to some, a pretty penny.
For folks that are on a very tight budget, I might sometimes tell them to QC it themselves, even though I make the masters. Making a DDP takes no time at all.
Dave
It's a workflow preference and to each their own but I like to get the clicks and such taken care of first before any serious processing happens, especially if there will be an analog loop pass. This is particularly helpful if having to deal with sibilance issues that would get exacerbated during processing or require an extra processing step in the chain. Spectral Editing in Sequoia is my weapon of choice for all of those things so when it's time to put the fairy dust on it, the track is clean. Just running thru the tracks in SE speeds things up later on, no surprises to deal with.

Listening back is mandatory final QC and for me headphones work really well as you can pick up the fast, tiny details you may miss on the big monitors. Big speaks are for tone, headphones, detail work, at least for me.
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