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 me with your questions any time.
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 and Sample Rate
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. I can work with files up to 32-Bit float @ 192kHz.
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.
Don’t normalize files and do not add any dynamic processing such as limiting, compression or finalizing to the master bus just 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 aesthetic reasons on 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 me an idea of what you are looking for.
Bear in mind – an unmastered mix doesn’t need to compete with mastered material.
is crucial when working on a vinyl release but also makes a lot of sense for digital formats since many listeners today will play back their music on mono equipment, ie. small bluetooth speakers etc. Please make sure to check your mix frequently to see whether the audio stays in phase and if fundamental elements will be gone once the signal is mono‘ed.
A reliable and easy to use freeware tool for checking mono compliance is the 2BusControl plugin by MAAT which will ideally sit last on your stereo bus all the time.
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.
Leave at least one second of ‘spare’ audio before and after the actual piece of music. I 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 [artist name] 01, [artist name] 02… for digital formats and CD, and [artist name] A1, [artist 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.