Mastering Lingo

So you know what your mastering engineer is talking about.

  • CD Master: The component created by a mastering facility which is usually formatted exactly the way the finished discs will be. Not to be confused with the glass master used by the factory during pressing. Also known as a source master.
  • Premastering: The process normally referred to as “mastering”. Technically, mastering is actually the process done at the plant to create a glass master. Premastering is the correct term for the process done by CD Mastering houses and what I’m talking about in this section.
  • PMCD: Production Master Compact Disc. The CD created by the mastering engineer which contains all of the subcode information the pressing plant needs to create a glass master. Not to be confused with a Reference Copy.
  • Reference Copy: A CD copied directly from your first generation PMCD. Created so you can check the integrity of your PMCD without actually touching it. If your reference copy is OK, then you know the production master is too.
  • PQ Information: PQ codes provide location and timing of each track on the CD. The mastering engineer burns PQ coding on the PMCD.
  • CD-R: Stands for Compact Disc Recordable. AKA a “burnable” CD.
  • CDRW – CD-/+RW or DVD+RW) a rewritable burnable disc. DO NOT USE FOR MASTERS!!!!
  • CD Extra: is a CD format developed especially for interactive music CDs, and contains video and audio tracks. Must be played on a computer to access the video tracks. The audio tracks can be played on any player, however, proper mastering is critical because if the video is on the wrong place on the disc it will create playback issues.
  • CD Text: Enables certain CD players to display text information such as artist, title, track names … etc.
  • Red Book: THE standard for audio CDs which specifies the physical parameters a disc must comply with. This allows industry compatibility.
  • Subcode areas: A compact disc contains several subcode areas and each area is named with a letter, from P to W.
  • Lead-in area: information about the whole disc and individual tracks.
  • Program area: information for the current track including track title, composer, performers etc.

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