Some points to keep in mind while preparing your mix for mastering. Please read them carefully, most of them are crucial for a great sounding master.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions.
Last things first
Always send the final version of your mix, the version you are happy with and which you want to be mastered.
Take your time to get things right, your master can only be as good as your mix allows.
Bit Depth, Sample Rate, Dither
Ideally you will work from beginning to finish of your project in WAV or AIFF format with a bit depth of 32 or 24-Bit and a fix sample rate of 96kHz, and deliver your mix in this native format. We can work with files up to 32-Bit float @ 384kHz.
Do not up- or down-sample your files, always stick to the native sample rate of your session. Sample Rate Conversion can easily mess things up when not done right.
If your session is 16/44.1k, that’s fine – just leave it like that.
Please make sure dithering is disabled while working on, or rendering your mix.
Don’t normalize files and do not add any dynamic processing such as limiting, compression or finalizing to the master bus in order to get your mix loud. Loudness and glue are best left to the mastering stage.
While the right amount of dynamic processing makes sense when used for individual sounds or groups used in the mix, it can seal off your material when applied to the master bus. As a result, there will be very little room left for good mastering.
In addition to this ‘clean’ version of your mix you can always send your reference mix including master bus processing to give us an idea of what you are looking for.
Bear in mind – an unmastered mix doesn’t need to compete with mastered material.
As long as your mix won't hit 0dB – without having to use a limiter to prevent digital clipping – everything is good.
There is no need to keep several dB of headroom before mastering, mixing your tracks with a healthy dose of gain will help you to take full advantage of the digital format. Just make sure that your audio never goes into clipping.
is important, especially when working on a vinyl release. Please make sure to check your mix frequently to see whether the audio stays in phase or if crucial elements will be gone when the signal is mono‘ed.
A great and free tool for checking mono compatibility is the 2BusControl plugin by MAAT which will ideally be last on your stereo bus all the time.
Leave at least one second of ‘spare’ audio before and after the actual piece of music. We will take care of detailed fades, the final volume relations between tracks and playlist spacings after the processing part of the mastering.
Please name your files [project name] 01, [project name] 02… for digital formats and CD, and [project name] A1, [project name] A2… for vinyl or cassette.
We will stick to this convention during the mastering process, your titles and other tags are added to the DDP image once you’ve approved the master.