Mastering

Our mission is to give music productions a unique and top-quality sound. This premise has shaped the Time Tools sound since 1997 – a special characteristic arising from a dedication and passion for sound.

We offer much more than trained hearing – we’re also good listeners, able to identify exactly what our producers and artists want. This is supported by the years of experience of our engineers who, with their individual career paths as producers and musicians, have developed a profound understanding of artistic demands and sonic vision.

International artists, labels, DJs and producers in all genres entrust us with their work. The gold and platinum awards for our productions confirm the high standards we set for ourselves and our work in which musicality and technical precision are given the highest priority.

Mastering technology means the reduction to what’s essential to us. We avoid anything unnecessary and keep the paths of the signal chain short and puristic. We test and modify each new device down to the component level.
In this way we combine high-end equipment from different manufacturers to suit our needs and create a practical and varied work environment.

For us, mastering means not only working with technology but, more importantly, with people. Our vibrant and creative studio environment is important because it enables us to exchange ideas with and be inspired by other producers and artists.

References

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Team

Time Tools The Listening Company

Work and play are inseparable concepts for us. We enjoy what we do – and we invite all of our customers to become part of our team during the mastering process. We love music, and believe that what we do is the best job in the world.

Andy Bolleshon Owner & Managing Director

With over 25 years in the music business, Andy is the veteran at Time Tools. His experience includes work as musician, producer, mixdown engineer, label owner and publisher. Founded in 1997, Time Tools was driven by his vision to establish mastering at an international standard in Germany. Since then he has mastered more than 1,500 productions and artists, including the likes of Madonna, Fat Boy Slim, Moby, Moloko, Yello and Mousse T. Today, he runs Time Tools as managing director.

Enrico Mercaldi Mastering Engineer

His roots lie in hip hop and electronic music. Next to his enthusiasm for music production, Enrico developed an early passion for sound aesthetics. Only very few have looked into the special requirements for vinyl mastering as extensively as he has. He has been demonstrating these and other qualities at Time Tools since 2002. With his characteristic sound, he has become a recognised expert in the world of dance and electronic music and enjoys the highest international recognition.

Piet Charlet Mastering Engineer

Wild about guitar music since he was a child, Piet has broadened his horizons to a remarkable musical spectrum in the course of his career. Having already worked for Time Tools as recording engineer in 2006, he gained extensive experience as mixing engineer and in other areas such as music theory and tour management. Today, he is among other things a tutor for production, mixing, post-production and mastering – and, once again, part of our team as junior mastering engineer.

Tom Porcell Mastering Engineer

Tom was already making a career for himself in the music business at 15 – back then as a guitarist in a hardcore band. He then developed an interest in electronic dance music where he garnered attention as a producer, songwriter and DJ. From 2005 he began making a name for himself as a mastering engineer in various well-known mastering studios and today enriches our team with his many years of experience and love of music.

Florentin Adolf Junior Mastering Engineer

As the son of two musicians, Florentin discovered his love of music early and started playing the drums and piano as a child. From the time of his first band he has been engaged with audio engineering. He was involved in various studio productions as a musician, sound engineer and producer even before he began studying music. Since 2009 he has spent his time equally on both sides of the mixing desk, on stage and in the studio. He has worked as a mastering engineer for several years and is now a member of our team.

Hilke Vollmann Studio Manager

Hilke has been part of our team since 2002 as studio manager and enriches Time Tools with her organisational talent and her great understanding for musicians and artists. She has over 20 years of experience in all areas of music management, from artist and band relations to tour management and promotion.

Felix Wolter

As a drummer, producer and mixer since the early 80s, Felix is regarded by many as absolute institution when it comes to reggae and dub. In the mid 80s he was a founding member of „The Vision“, Germany’s first dub reggae project, and today among other things he is jointly responsible for the German-Jamaican reggae and dub label „Eleven Seven Records“ and the boss of the down-tempo label „Perkussion & Elektronik“.
Since the end of 2014 he has also dedicated himself to mastering and already polished up numerous compilations and albums for Time Tools.

Mo Heidrich

Music was also Mo’s greatest passion from his early childhood. From his first record contract at the age of 17 to the present day he has produced hundreds of works across all genres. When not touring Europe with his electro-rock trio Transmitter, he can be found in the studio as a producer and composer, also for advertising, TV and theatre. With his background as a musician and his stylistic range, Mo fits perfectly into our team.

FAQ

Our services include:

  • High-end stereo mastering for CD, vinyl and digital formats (e.g. Mastered for iTunes)
  • Stem mastering (subgroup processing)
  • Compilation mastering
  • Creation of continuous and DJ mixes
  • Remastering & audio restoration
  • CD text, ISRCs, DDP image, high-resolution-processing, metadata
  • Single titles can usually be mastered at short notice.
  • Large projects such as albums and compilations should be booked at least two to four weeks in advance.
  • For particularly urgent projects we offer a last-minute service at additional cost.
  • There should be no limiter on the stereo output.
  • The material should be dynamic (i.e. not too heavily compressed).
  • Equalizers, compressors, stereo expanders etc. should only be used as creative stylistic devices and not as a pre-mastering measure.
  • Mastering amplifies digital distortion caused by channel overdrive and limiters and should therefore be avoided.
  • Please check your mix files for dropouts, clicks, cut ends etc. The correction of such errors is not part of the mastering process and will be charged for additionally.
  • The signals in the mix should be homogeneous in terms of volume levels and frequency response. We can adjust a dull mix; however, if, for example, the hi-hat is too sharp and the vocals are too dull, an adjustment is significantly more difficult and sometimes impossible.
  • The material must be provided in uncompressed file formats such as WAV or AIFF.

Of course, we also still accept physical media such as CD, DVD, DAT or analogue tape.

  • The files should have the original sample rate of the project or the recording without subsequent sample rate conversion.
  • The bit depth should ideally be 24 or 32 bit.
  • Before sending, the files should be compressed to ZIP or RAR format. This also ensures that transmission errors are detected immediately (whether the ZIP file is damaged or cannot be opened).
  • Track listing (order of songs with correct spelling)
  • Complete information on project, artist and track names
  • Billing address
  • Also metadata such as ISRCs and CD text, if applicable.
In principle, tracks with an overly wide stereo field can’t easily be pressed onto vinyl. The bass, in particular, should be mono if possible.

Therefore, the use of stereo expanders and heavily stereophonic basses (e.g. with chorus or similar) should be avoided.

 

Of course, before vinyl mastering we check for mono compatibility and, if necessary, narrow the stereo panorama. However, such corrective measures inevitably compromise the sound quality and the bass pressure in particular.

 

Equally, over-emphasized sibilants (specifically ’s ‚and ’sh‘ on vocals and sharp hi-hat sounds) pose a bigger problem for vinyl mastering than for CDs. Due to the cutting process, such signals cause unpleasant distortions on the record.

 

The sound quality decreases towards the middle of a record, so the most important tracks should always be placed at the beginning. High frequencies in particular significantly lose presence towards the middle of the record and distortion increases.

 

The higher playback speed of 45 rpm has a positive effect on sound quality; but to the detriment of the maximum play time (see table above).

 

Finally, it should be noted that a bass-heavy mix requires more space on a record, which also effectively reduces the potential play time.

  • The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is a twelve-digit digital code (Example: DEA239810012) for a recording, for example, a CD title, which can be included in the subcode during the mastering process.
  • The ISRC gives each recording a unique identifier code which is used by record companies, publishers and distributors for cataloguing and managing royalties. This is important for the identification of titles on radio and TV as well as for streaming services.
  • In Germany, the initial allocation of ISRC codes can be requested from the IFPI.
The DDP image (Disc Description Protocol) is a standard format for the transfer of master data to the pressing plant. With the help of digital checksums it ensures that the files that are sent and used files perfectly match the original data in terms of bit size.
Alternative mixes (e.g. vocal-up, instrumental, etc.) should be delivered directly at the start of the project. This way they can be charged as a cost-effective edit.

If they are delivered late they will be charged as a more expensive analogue recall.

Analogue or digital mastering does NOT mean mastering for digital or analogue media. When we speak of analogue mastering, we mean that the signal passes through our analogue devices. In contrast, digital mastering means that we only work digitally. Since even the best digital emulations do not yet match the sound characteristics of the analogue originals, analogue mastering is still of a considerably higher quality. Nevertheless, we offer digital mastering as a cost-effective alternative so you can benefit from the experience of the engineer as well as the optimal listening environment of our studios.
  • The best way is to ask us for a non-binding quote via email or phone. Please use our contact form.

Important information to be included in your enquiry:

What genre is your music production?

How many titles would you like to have mastered?

  • Please also specify if you need alternative mixes or other additional services (e.g. vocal-up, instrumental etc.)
  • Following the delivery of flawless mixes before or on the agreed date, mastering (of a single track) takes place within a day, often within a few hours.
  • It takes several days for the completion of the masters for larger projects.
  • Clear labelling (with complete title, mix and artist name) is absolutely essential.
  • The file names should not contain special characters or umlauts.
  • The files can be uploaded to the customer area of our website.
  • Of course, you can also use other upload services (WeTransfer, Dropbox etc.) Please avoid share hosting sites such as Rapidshare where you have to wait for the download or log in.
  • Of course, you can also still send us CDs, DATs etc. by post.
  • The maximum play time of a CD is approx. 80 minutes (including pauses). There are different upper limits depending on the pressing facility. However, longer play times can lead to incompatibilities with some playing devices.

 

  • The maximum play times of vinyl pressings are:

 

Maximum play time Optimal play time
7 inch

33 1/3 rpm

Normal volume 6-8 minutes up to 5 minutes
High volume

(bass-heavy club titles)

4 minutes 3 minutes
7 inch

45 rpm

Normal volume 4 minutes 3 minutes
High volume

(bass-heavy club titles)

3.5-4 minutes 2.5-3.5 minutes
12 inch

33 1/3 rpm

Normal volume 15 to max. 25 minutes 12-15 minutes
High volume

(bass-heavy club titles)

12 minutes 8-10 minutes
12 inch

45 rpm

Normal Volume 12 minutes 8 minutes
High volume

(bass-heavy club titles)

9 minutes 6-8 minutes

 

Mastering normally takes place in a single target format, mainly CD format (16 bit, 44.1 kHz). However, if the release is planned as both a CD and as high-resolution download, for example, several masters must be created (in this example one with 16 bit for the CD and one with 24 bit for the download). A simple conversion is not enough; the masters are specially adapted to the respective format.
A CD text enables the display of the artist, album name and song titles on compatible CD players (as in many car stereos). The CD text is entered into the subcode of an audio CD during mastering.

The content of the CD text must be provided in a common text format so that we can simply copy the information. It is very important to note that the character set used must be ASCII compatible. Incompatible character encoding causes special characters and umlauts to be shown erroneously.

Misspellings and extra spaces etc. should, of course, be avoided. We assume that what you send us is exactly as you intended.

With stem mastering, the source material consists of several subgroup mixes instead of one stereo mix. This enables more sophisticated editing of the individual elements. Furthermore, the loudness of vocals, for example, can be adjusted.

Stem mastering does not replace a good mix.

Before giving the final master the go-ahead (e.g. for pressing or digital release) you should listen to all of it very carefully. If changes are requested a price revision is included.
The iTunes encoder can now process HD files with 24 bit/96 kHz, achieving significantly better results during encoding. Therefore, it is advisable to create a high-resolution master (possibly in addition to the masters for other formats) if you are planning a release on iTunes. With Mastering for iTunes, we also take into account the effects on the sound caused by the encoding process.
If you would like to mention the mastering in your credits, which of course would be great, we recommended: „Mastered by [engineer‘s name] @ Time Tools Mastering“
In addition, it would be great if you tagged us when posting the release on social media (facebook, twitter or the like) using „@timetools“ or #timetools.

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