Preparing a Mix for Mastering

Sound considerations The biggest aspect to think about when sending a song for mastering is “does my mix sound like I want it to?” The most common misconception about mastering is that it will fix any problems in a mix – my guitar sounds a bit weak, the mastering will fix that. It is true that mastering will improve any overall weakness in a song, but fixing any individual elements is just not possible. This is where the term overall is so important, because if I did try to bring out the 'ring' of the guitar with EQ for example, everything else in the song will be affected by this choice. This is because I am receiving one file to master, so it is impossible to work on individual elements of the song. The main take-away from this is: Am I happy with the levels in the song? If you're thinking the bass needs to be higher, please change that level in the mix before you send me a file to master, as unfortunately I can only work with the levels that I am given. Headroom When you are happy with the way your mix is sounding, the next most important aspect of sending in a mix for mastering is the concept of Headroom. Headroom is a term used which means space in the mix, so that the file is to a quieter output level so that I can add my processes to your song. Think of it this way, if you send me a mix which is at, or close to hitting 0dB, the song is at it's loudest possible volume already, and this is before I add anything to it. Whereas a song which has a quieter output level means I have more scope to add my processes to make it a professional sounding song. Headroom preferences for sending a mix file My preferred output level to receive mixes is around -15dB so this gives me plenty of Headroom or space so that I can add the finishing touches to your song. It is also VERY important to not have any processes on your master/output fader such as EQ or compression for example when exporting a mix. This is because it again gives me less “space” to work with, because when I add my processes to your song it would be like putting EQ on EQ, or compression on compression if I were to use them on your song. The mix file wouldn't give me a true sonic representation of your song, because the clarity of your output channel has been clouded by using these in the file that has been sent. To send me a mix at my preferred output level, this involves turning down the master/output fader and removing any processes on this channel. File Format to send The file format I would like all mix files is in WAV format, 24 bit, 44.1 kHz please. WAV is the most optimum file format, and while mp3's are more convenient and take up less file space, it is precisely this reason why they shouldn't be sent to a mastering engineer. File size can variate wildly depending on the length of a song, but a typical mp3 of a 3:30 song will be around 7MB, whereas a WAV file of the exact same song will around 70MB. So that is 10x better sonic quality that a WAV will reproduce than an mp3, giving much more depth and ambience in the mix. Although it is exactly the same song, the mp3 has squashed 10x quality away from the mix, so the depth of the WAV is gone. You could say “well you're processes will fix that”, but it can only improve what is there to begin with. If you want your music to have the best quality for your audience, it has to start with how it is presented in the final production stage of mastering. Checklist I hope this brief overview of mastering preparation has been useful, along with some insights I have picked up in my experience. Here's a rundown of things to consider if you want to send me a song to master: 1. Does the mix of the song sound the way I want it to be listened to levels wise? 2. Export the mix with no effects on the master fader for the clearest sound of your mix 3. Export the mix as a WAV file, 24 bit, 44.1kHz 4. Send me your mix in the steps outlined via the “Sending Your Mix” thread If you would like to use my mastering service, please read the “Prices”, “What you will receive” and “Sending your Mix” threads respectively. I look forward to working with you!


This forum has no topics yet.