Shhh… Mastered for iTunes

In the next few months there will be a great kafuffle about the new Apple format delivery, which they have actually been championing for quite some time but has not yet truly taken off. 

Bono from U2 has been talking about a new Artist driven format coming and I’m pretty sure it will be some kind of iTunes LP style Musical product with this new audio standard in a nifty new package. Currently the MP3 Apple delivers to consumers is not good enough for anything except their Apple ear buds, so something has to get better.

I myself have been a bit perplexed with the level of detail that I now need to do in order to create a great sounding “Mastered for iTunes” (MFIT) Product, so I though I would share some insights I have learned and am still learning.

Why do we need Mastered for iTunes?

Ok so firstly don’t take everything I say as the defacto fact as I am not a Professional mastering engineer but I am a record producer with 20+ Years recording and have attended every mastering session and been involved in the Mastering of all my music so I do understand a lot more than just recording of music, so here goes.

In the music business we have mainly had vinyl and CD’s to deliver our musical experiences and both deal with the music in different ways as in CD you have to actually create a file that is at a sample rate of 44.1kHz in order that it plays on a CD but with vinyl you cut vinyl and end up with an analogue reproduction in the form of a  record which raises the famous argument that music sounds better on vinyl. Both formats of sound delivery have been accepted as the standard for listening for many years but things are changing.

If you were serious about the making of your music you would hopefully be actually recording it at a higher sample rate (88 or 96 or 192) than the final version people would hear (44.1kHz CD) so that there is room to down sample it to 44.1kHz for the CD by doing this you could be confident that there would be no noticeable sound quality in the down sampled CD version of your studio master.

The thing is, sample rates above 44.1kHz have generally been deemed a professional safety, allowing head room in sonic quality rather than adding noticeable sound to the human ear (this is a contentious argument) I say this, as we mostly are listening to CD’s, which means we are all listening at 44.1kHz .

Due to the many different ways of recording your final studio mix there has never been a true standard of recording higher than 44.1kHz so some artist record masters at 44.1kHz and don’t need to down sample to make their CD some record above 44.1kHz just for safety and those that could afford to do it all at 192kHz might still not use that higher bit rate, as they might be putting their final master on to a DAT (digital Audio Tape) that could only record at 88.2KHz and if you were recording at the highest rate of 193KHz you would have to store it as a digital file which creates bigger files and storage on unreliable disk space plus you would need very expensive Digital converters and so even if you have a 192kHz button you most likely were recording for Digital Audio Tape (DAT 88.2kHZ) as I was, and as DAT was twice what you needed for CD you would have though that was great.

There is also an on going argument as to the sound change at 192kHz by some audio files as digital can be quite cold and harsh to some peoples ears.

All is changing

Mastered for iTunes is setting a standard for all artist to work by in that, the CD is pretty much dead and the digital age is now the de facto for listening to music so it can now be plaid and stored at higher rates than just for a CD (44.1kHz).

Most people (I think) would agree that classical sound better at higher bit rates above 44.1kHz
So in theory you can hear a noticeable difference when using higher bit rate converters. It can still be argued whether it’s always a positive conversion rate on all styles of music as so many other mixing factors can play a part in the final sound as I will now try to point out.

What is the current standards ?

The problem is up until now all masters that have been made, have not been to any defined higher recording standard as any recording above CD quality was deemed as protection against quality loss to CD (44.1kHz) but in order to be a ‘Mastered for iTunes” you have to either re mix your music again or upscale the Masters you already have to this new 192kHz recording standard Apple has set.

I hope this sounds straightforward so far as it now gets a bit confusing.

In Practice This is what’s happening

So you made a few tracks in one studio 10 years ago and your DAT master (Digital Audio Tape) is at 44.1kHz and you have some at 48kHz and some you just lost and only have vinyl so what do you do? Most probably you don’t have the gear to re mix down all that old music again so your DAT’s and Records are all you have.

This will be the dilemma of most artists and the answer is a little confusing. The rumour is that Apple intend to very soon release a new higher format for the public to download (using the Mastered for iTunes spec), So if you want in, you have to start re-mastering all your old catalogue, but are you really going to improve them?

The thing is, if you were mixing at brick wall levels when you made those old tracks you can not change those setting, in fact all you can do is upscale the 44.1kHz or 48kHz sample rate to 192kHz and doing this won’t make any difference and might actually cause more artifacts in the sound during the up scaling.

(imagine trying to put more detail into a picture that is already printed by just rescanning it at a higher detail, you’re still only going to have the same picture nothing more will be added to its detail)

So if your just recording your music from vinyl at 192kHz how can this be an improvement on an already fixed master?

The crux of having it at the highest sample rate won’t really change a master that is already set in stone, it just records what you already have so I’m not seeing the benefit for old masters apart from meeting a new standard for delivery to Apple.

Apple has a caveat that covers this dilemma in their documents as they state:

In order to qualify as Mastered for iTunes
Remastered content must begin with a high-resolution digitization of the original analog source and must sound noticeably superior to the previously released version. 

So once recorded in higher sample rate you have to tweak it a bit to try and improve the master you already made (the best you could)?

So what makes Mastered for iTunes different?

My understanding so far is that it’s a master with no or minimum clipping created at the highest sample rate possible 196kHz.
What this means for producers is that, if you like ‘that wall of sound’ then you might have to really change the way you work as in the new Mastering techniques clipping has got to go, so if you redline your mix it might not pass as a Mastered for iTunes product.

It’s common knowledge that clipping is not good in the digital domain but can sound good on vinyl when you want a loud ‘wall of sound’.

Mastered for iTunes is more about fidelity and clipping will, by it’s nature, lop the top of everything and compress it into a wall and that is not fidelity, as most of the nuances if not all of them get taken out on impact with the red line of death, that is, clipping.

This is a learning curve for all producers to take the mix level down at least 2db and never clip, but this also means you don’t have that loud sound anymore unless you are very on it with compressors on each channel before your stereo mix I’m sure any number of mastering pro’s will tell you, most dance artist always say “make sure it’s loud”.
Well, artists will now have to do this before the mastering.

If you’re a budding Artist and don’t want to be left out in the cold when the new iTunes package is reveled in a few months time, you better start mixing your masters with no clipping and mastering them for MFIT (Mastered for iTunes) as once this new product Apple is planning to launch is released I’m pretty sure the Mastered for iTunes will be the de facto standard.

Depression what is it? please share this

Depression what is it? please share this

Everyday life…

Everyday life…

To my everyday life I would look rather normal. People that don’t know me would not think I was odd or different, I’m just another guy in a crowd but having suffered from some serious depression (of which I feel pretty far removed now) I think I am on the most part that normal guy people see ..BUT

I realise I am not the same person I used to be. There are a lot of damaged circuits.

I would explain it a bit like a computer that crashed one time and since then it runs almost all of you programes like nothing is wrong but there are a few things that as soon as you open them the system will freeze up or crash ..

Sensitive to the world and peoples hate… these are the programes I have problems with…

A lot of my depression involved me seeing so much sadness in people and the world and the things that are behind the sadness, I could see it even when people were smiling as if I had special vision or senses to see the deeper into the hurt going on inside them.

At the worst time in my depression I would not put the television on or go out because I could see it in every one, even actors and the news, well you don’t have to suffer from depression for that to get you feeling at best very low.

So anyway i’m all fine (?) until the simplest of things brings back my feelings of worry and anxiousness (those uncontrollable butterflies in your stomach that well up) and those triggers are always human related. Like getting a parking ticket, that’s seems something that would annoy or stress anyone but with me it bring up loads of stuff the deep thoughts of that job and the greedy ways people dump on others just to take from them, also the job and the fact that it exists and some of those doing it get so much satisfaction on dumping down on others.

I actually know my problem is that I am extra sensitive to everything that’s negative and I look into the reasoning behind the actions people say and do. It leaves me feeling like there is no hope left for kindness in this world and it’s all about personal satisfaction even if it means someone else will be left with the negativity of your actions.

That to me sums up the world we live in today, no one cares enough to be kind or think about how their actions affect others.

People only care about their own issues and needs. Pretty sh*t place this world has become.

So I make music to cheer people up hopefully? but as I said it only takes one arsehole for me to feel so down and low again. It’s not a nice feeling and I seem to get there so easy due to me sensitivity to everything harsh and negative, how do you become thick skinned to this stuff, I must have been thicker skinned before or was I just oblivious to it because I was also so busy?…I don’t recall ever being ruthless or unconcerned to others.

Kindness cost nothing its like manners and when you give or show it. It also reflects back at you, something has gone wrong with my programe in this respect because I still give it and show it but I no longer feel I get its reflection, its as if my computer Ariel is also damaged as all I receive now is negative vibes from people.

I know a lot of people wont understand this blog but I typing it because again my day has started with that feeling because others who I don’t even know have so much hate and care so little for anyone but them selves. I just wish I could tell them to f**k off and mean it and could not care or have these feeling of anxiousness that make me want to close the door and hide away from the world.

but I can’t do that as my programming is not working properly.

Just Moved to Word Press UPDATE! on my stats.

Feels like I haven’t done a blog in ages and that might be due to the blogging site I was using being bought out and the site shutting down.

Well I am here now but Where am I now?

Well reading my last post about working in the real world made me grin as I am actually on another mini adventure like that and I have really enjoyed it but I know that will soon come to a close due to my music.

I cannot believe how people dig into you life when your trying to just fit in and not be anyone different, but I made a simple mistake using an email that gave inquisitive people a back door to my other world.

I still deny I am the person they think I am and they are not sure, but there are a few that sing my tunes and look at me with a grin hoping for a positive response which I ignore loll

Yeah it sound funny but for me its uncomfortable but I love this little job that allows me to interact almost seamlessly and the people are all really cool and real, although due to the recient association I have cut down my adventure to just doing a few hours 1 day a week to keep off the radar.

For the last few years I have been trying to be as grounded as I can. The funny thing is I know I am grounded but I am trying to feel grounded by doing normal jobs and blending in. I just want to be normal and I do feel normal now days so things are looking up.

I know this sounds weird but my depression is some how connected to my recurring success and my music making is my escape from depression (there are many other things that fuel my depression).

I make music to get lost and feel free but then that music becomes successful and so I get anxious from the attention and I recoil then i slowly start to get down and down. There is a cycle here.

I have a saying I use a lot “People are weird”

Anyway I put the music out because it’s my escape and I need to know I’m on the right track with the music I make, so it has to be set free so I can see if it fails or succeeds and then it sells in a big way which I can not deny pays my bills so I don’t need to work but then the after effects of success kick in again and I start to feel anxious as it only takes a few haters to really make me recoil…. everything effects everything else

There is no clear answer as I won’t give up my music or my musical plans and it has to be released because I am testing myself all the time to see if I am worth anything. This is why I rarely promote anything,
My music need to grow through it’s own power of being good and not from any kind of hype.


That’s me.

Anyway it’s all getting very close now.
I did have about 6 months when I though I would need to work for the additional money to gain the studio mix downs but in the end that was not as difficult as I thought.

I am glad I never pawned myself on Kickstarter as that’s not really who I am and I realise now that I will always be alone in my missions to make and release music, but anyway I am now just in the final tweaking of volume 1 with volume 2, all down in the digital side (again just need to mix the Volume 2 album again on an SSL desk)

I’m a lot better nowadays (with depression) than I have been. I almost feel normal and being part of a team (1 day a week) when I do my mini adventure is very real and fulfilling and yet I know once things get released and some how people find out then I will have to leave.

I have been climbing my way out of depression by working on this massive project and now I am at the cusp of the mountain.

The road down this mountain can take many forms :- failure, over success, or a nice middle ground where I can roll on a bike with my legs stretch out from the gears and enjoying the breeze in my face…Don’t know which it will be but it’s always like this before a release?

So for now all things are positive. I’m buzzing with my first album, it’s so different and unique and it’s going to change the way people perceive what’s possible in an album, using my styles of UK Underground music and todays tech but also using years of passion to create something that hopefully has a value and that will vindicate the eight years of care I have given it.

DJ’s PLEASE> Just do one thing right at least

DJ’s PLEASE> Just do one thing right at least

If you want to sound good then get real with my lesson 1 and 2 of the very basics of a pro DJ before you ruin the underground music scene anymore with your careless attitude to the music and skills that producers care over in making the music you play out!

I know that I nag on about the MP3 Gen of DJ’s with their push button mixing and ‘no talent’ pre-made sets all faking the ars’ out of the real talent of being a DISC JOCKY, but having recently gone to a Drum and Bass night where my good friend Para was djing I was really pi**ed off to HEAR that some of the other DJ sets sounded so crap in QUALITY OF SOUND it was embarrassing to the record producers hard work in creating their music as well as for the ravers that attend clubs around the world…

I go on about buying the music you love but if you are going to get paid to play a set then you definitely should buy your music as a serious file and not an MP3

Look wake up! Downloading illegal rips of low rez tracks makes you sound sh*t when you are playing on a top sound system..

Think about it please… there is a saying > put Crap in and all you will get is Crap out… this applies to the quality of the mp3 file and not the producer’s music (that’s a different debate on crap).

 A great tune on a low quality MP3 will NOT sound GREAT!

Mp3s might sound like they boom on Apple ear buds but play it on a 20k sound system and it will sound like your iPhone speakers at 20 thousand watts. Your headphones in the DJ booth might sound great but those turbo sound speakers in the club are hardly playing anything in the bass frequencies or if they are it’s a poor rendition of what the producer intended!

“An MP3 is a squashed music file it’s soul purpose is to strips away almost all the frequency’s that a pair of small Apple ear buds can not reproduce in order to make the size of the file as small as possible for download and storage it is not a professional file format for a DJ.Let me repeat myself: it’s (mp3 format) goal is to strip away as much as possible from the recording in a way that you don’t notice these frequency’s missing (in ear buds) A club sound system can actually play those discarded bass frequency’s so the mp3 file is only good for tiny little speakers and any serious dj using this format for club use is clearly a Nob..”

Source: Mark Ryder. Record produce of bass shaking underground dance music since time..


There will be no clarity / no bass shaking eye wobbling ripples throughout the club only the sound of a squashed mp3 file being blown up to twenty thousand watts and screaming in the mid rage while the bass bins are hardly working.

You need to buy quality sound files (or very HI Quality Mp3 files at the very lease). Only formats that are uncompressed are pro formats, do not just think any old stolen download of the track you want will give you a DJ set to play out… 

Currently a lot of what I hear is bad quality sound files being played out its stagnating the scene and making a sham of it.

The upside. My mate Para played a wicked set and he buys every track either as HI quality downloads or vinyl and it showed when the bass boomed. He put the headliner DJ to shame in many ways but just dropping a track that sounded like thunder! Was all it took for the crowd to take note of his arrival on the decks. 

So wake up and take note.

If you want to be a killer DJ?

Lesson One: Quality of music files you use, the higher quality (uncompressed format) the better YOU will sound.

Lesson Two: Quality of music files you use, the higher quality (uncompressed format) the better YOU will sound.

I could go on with these lessons but it would turn into more griping about no talented Computer button pushing gen that call themselves DJ’s in order to cream the glory from the talented and real disc jacking few still out there working the decks live and pulling tunes from their record bag just seconds before playing in order to read and control the audience in that club at that moment.


I digress…

Anyway After lesson one and two then you can be any type of DJ you want

Whether you are the preset (made this mix last week) (type DJ)

‘Look at me I’m faking it all but pretending I can DJ by bouncing my head to the beat as if I am actually syncing a track for that moment’

Or the

I could not mix two vinyl records randomly picked from a DJ bag (type DJ)

‘Yes I am clicking the start button live (sync on) on every mix and looking cool like I’m the controller of your fun and you think I actually pitched all these track live in the moment’.

That bit of skill is yours to choose but lesson one and lesson two has to be paramount because punters who paid to hear your button pushing skills have the right to really enjoy the music that the producers (the real talent in the music) are making for those really expensive  sound system speakers in that club and a good sound file can make those speakers do what they are designed for…shake the floor and make the crowd worship the music! (Oh i meant worship your button pushing, as I know you think it’s all about you “the D isfunctional J ocky” )

Kind regards, always

Mark Ruff Ryder
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Time is on my side even though I wish I did not have to wait !

Time is on my side even though i wish i did not have to wait!

i have always know that the complexities of what i have been trying to achieve in my new iTune LP music venture was always going to be hard to translate to others without them actually experiencing it also the technology has not really been there for my project to really work in the way i want it to (although now it can)
My kick-starter never really got off the ground as i just can not get myself into that place where i am asking people to help me, as asking for help is a very alien feeling having spent all my life doing it alway on my own or with known friends but aways exclusively on my own terms.

I’m just not socially interactive but these set backs in crowd sorcing ventures don’t really stop me moving forward as this is how its always been ( you can not get everything and every idea right but you can always try another way)

i have 3 tracks holding me up on the first album as they are waiting to be mixed down and while i am finding time for this i am currently just trying to deal with the cold UK weather and the day to day things that take up more time than i would like but i am confident in my project so these set backs don’t faze me although they are very frustrating as it would be nice to just get it all sorted and out but thats not going to happen quickly and i will continue to work on the final stages and hopefully later this year volume one will get released and the ball can start to roll..

nothing is every as smooth as you might hope but my history and determination don’t ever fail me so time can only hold me up for so long and then boom! i will be ready!

Pulling myself back to a normal life.

Over Xmas I decided I would try some real work to see if I could get out and integrate into the real world after years of depression, it’s not that times are hard but they are definitely not as good as they used to be, but that, I suppose is true for everyone in these lean times.

So anyway I thought about the things I have always wanted to do and most were in retail as in my very early days I had worked in a record shop and also in a computer store and I had always enjoyed it so I looked around and found this night job in Sainsbury’s which was only temporary for the xmas period and I decided to apply for it and see if I could cope with a normal regular job and the interaction I normally avoid, also it would be an night job stacking shelves so not too much interaction.

I was nervous but also excited when I got an interview and given a position and yes I actually really enjoyed the vibe of all the people as well as being able to just be another worker was a really satisfying situation for me and I soon made loads of new friends working in the night shift.

I never told anyone of my music work as that always spoils things with expectations or questions that make me always feel uncomfortable.

The temporary job ended in January but I have an itch to do something else so I have made a list of the sorts with jobs I want to try and I have Mc Donald’s at the top of my list as I love the fast pace of work and that seems pretty fast but maybe also other shop type jobs doing something different and when I have had enough I could hopefully try something else while all the time still working the final tracks on the first album and keeping myself busy.

I know some people reading this will wonder what I am doing but I am going through a healing process right now and trying to get into the real world as a normal person and i am  actually enjoying these little adventures.

No I don’t have to work, I know how lucky I am and my music has set me up for life but I needed to be more interactive on a roots level with real people and i needed this to help keep me busy and away from my depression, so right now it all seems to make sense and I’m enjoying it. I’m like a kid with a new toy.

Who knows I might be serving you your next Big Mac 🙂 lol


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Mark Ruff Ryder © Strictly Underground Records Since 1988