In the PC revolution, we musician's make full use of the now popular Mp3 format for making songs available on line for free to see what people like or to sale , there are many places to sell you CD in Mp3 format Sound click.com, amazon, many, many others CD baby the list is endless, and your own website.
You songs should have been recorded at 24 bits and 97Khz .24 bit is most important as 48Khz is acceptable but the 24 bit a must, in a pro studio they use 24 bit /96KHZ and many cheap sound cards have these specs.
Yes you will after the mastering stage dither down to 16bit 44.1Khz as all Cd's are recorded, dithered down to this CD standard.
A wave format will always have a better sound, just listen in a good car stereo and compare a burned CD in wave form and than in mp3 you should hear the difference.
Wave to Mp3 conversion is a simple thing, but some things you should know are as follows:
If you have a plug in by waves called the L2 you will see the dithering process gives many choices and many wave forms and such. This plug in is my number one tool in the mastering process.
Most do not have these expensive waves plug ins ,they are not cheap and a good bundle can cost from 2,000 to 4,000.
Note that before you convert to mp3 you will dither the wave, compress it and once dithered you can not just go back and convert the mp3 to wave form and re -tweak it.
In the wave form it will sound like all your tweaking, and mastering took, but once converted back to the original Mp3 no changes will have taken, again this is due to dithering and once dithered that's it, so always have copies of your songs in wave form in case you want to change the song.
Now you want to always have a Hi-Fi mp3 setting the max is 320 Baud, but some places like amazon only allow a Hi-fi of around 290 or so, a standard low-fi is 128 Baud I have on my free sound click page all low-fi and it sounds, well... like low fi and a tad crappy, you must have a paid music page to upload Hi-Fi, the alternative is to sign up at Boost independent music.com, you get a page and can post Hi-fi, it is an odd site they charge people .69 cents for a download and you only get 1/2 of that, not much.I use the Boost site just to have a good page to post my music in Hi-fi and man what a difference a baud Hi-fi mp3 sounds in relation to standard 128 baud, a 160 and above is much better.
Now some, not all mp3 converter plug ins software give you the option to choose between to kinds of conversion
1.CBR Constant bit rate
2.VBR variable bit rate
If you can, convert your songs in the VBR and this is why, you will notice first off in VBR it does not go up to 320Baud this is because in a wide sense , but the only way I can make it simple is. VBR is more like a limiter it does not change the mp3 sound and CBR does, it is constant and is more like a compressor and so it squashes the single as a compressor does, and one can use a compressor as an effect due to The drastic change a compressor can make to the over all sound, but a limiter does not alter the sound at all just controls the peaks, I use a limiter far more than a compressor, I use a soft knee compressor at a ratio of say 2:1 just enough to not let the loud passages of a vocal stand out and keeps the vox track even.
Louder is not always better, in the industry the new thing is louder is better, sometimes, but not always, a compressor can pump up the volume in great measure, but can also squeeze your sound till it can sound unnatural. so louder is not always better, but I do use compressors in the mastering stage to bring up the over all CD so all songs are the same loudness so one does not need to turn up or down the volume, this is not PRO standard the CD should have the same loudness factored in so no one has to turn it up or down, unless they want to hear your great song louder.
In acoustic music, easy listening,jazz and others loudness is second seat to using a limiter to keep all the subtle music timbres to be enjoyed.
So variable bit rate makes a better sounding Mp3 than Constant bit rate, MP3 Pro is a out dated standard and had its day, much has changed.
1.keep several copies of your songs in Wave format at 24 bit .
2.conversion to mp3, if no choice the software just converts it, all will give you at least the window to set the baud rating so go as High as you can .note the higher the rate say 320 will be a file at least two times larger than a mp3 in 128 low-fi, so if that is an issue remember, just as a 24 bit 96Khz wave form will be much larger than a wave form in standard CD quality digital of 16/44.1Khz.
3.Once your song is in Mp3 you can not change it later as it has been dithered some software does not even tell you about dithering, it will just convert you wave form to mp3, when this happens it is being dithered down sampled esp. from 24 bit to 16.
4.A good mix and a great master using a hi-fi conversion even CBR if no choice will sound a lot better on your mp3 player.
5.Mp3 is a squashing of your audio, so experiment, choose wisely and listen to the mp3 player on your monitors, small PC monitors and head phones in a Mp3 player, if something is wrong you have a saved waveform to re do it, and by the way do not forget to save the wave form as a back up before you even mix down, master, or do anything so all, changes can at a latter time be changed.
6.Mp3 Id3 tags.Make sure all mp3 songs have these tags, they are stored in the mp3 and are a must, what are they and what is the purpose.In short, when editing the ID3 tag window, you will see a screen pop up that has a form to fill out.Name of song,artist,copyright,and other info.This is important and a must if you are selling your songs.With out a ID3 tag your song will say unknown artist as it plays in a mp3 player.You want your name and song title going across the screen it is a way for a universal tag to be read and all info will appear.The bonus to this for an Indy artist or anyone that wrote the song and converted it to MP3, the date of creation is stamped on your work and no one can steal a song that has a mp3 ID3 tag, so make sure you do not over look the tag. The tag is your ID.You get full credit, so do it.
Any questions feel free to ask, I offer free a email based school, mentoring, consultation you ask the questions you need answers for and you will get a detailed email with links and info. I do not sell anything, all my mp3 Cd's are free to down load at www.soundclick.com/dabaldo
These are free to down load in low-fi my Hi-fi songs are posted on boost I have the boost logo on some of the blog's just click that and you will hear my new CD the War Machine, also at the bottom of the blog you will see links, click my new CD The war machine, this will take you to the boost site and you can listen to all the songs for free, but the site does not allow you to download them for free, that's them not me,but they are free on sound click. I posted on boost so my students could hear the difference in a Low-fi and hi-Fi sound, compare and you will see.
Until next time, happy recording
Danny Louis Abaldo