How To Prepare Your Mix For Mastering
Here are some tips on what to do and what not to do when preparing your files when sending your mix for mastering.
Please note that adding mastering plug-ins to your final mix before sending it out for professional mastering will NOT make it sound punchier. It will only squash the audio and ruin the dynamics of the waveform.
Don’ts When Preparing A Mix For Mastering
- Don’t add a brick wall limiter to the final mix. Loudness should be applied during the mastering stage.
- Don’t apply compression, volume maximizer, or limiting to the main stereo bus or the master track. Only use the effects needed to enhance the recording such as compressor, reverb, delays, etc within the separate tracks.
- Don’t mixdown at a level above -3 db at the least. Allow headroom for your engineer to work with.
- Don’t assume your mastering engineer can fix what you should have fixed within the mix for mastering.
- Don’t think that if you have your track mixed dead center (mono), the mastering engineer can widen the mix and pan the instruments to make it sound wider. Utilize your panning fields and be creative to make your mix for mastering sound open and full.
- Don’t add fade ins or outs to the final mix. The mastering engineer will take care of that.
- Don’t send your mix in compressed lossy formats such as MP3 or WMV.
Do’s When Preparing A Mix For Mastering
- Do keep an open communication with your mastering engineer. He will tell you exactly what he needs from you.
- Do make sure your recordings are free of noises such as pops, clicks, bumping the mic, and hiss. All wave files should have a nice clean start and end.
- Do send your files in uncompressed formats such as WAV or AIF. The higher the quality (24 bit, 96khz for example) the better. Note that mixing down at 16 bit 44.1khz and converting to 24 bit 96khz before sending for mastering doesn’t convert it into a higher quality file. You should record, edit and mixdown always at the highest quality possible. The mastering engineer will bring the format down to CD quality (16 bit 44.1khz) at the very end.
- Do include exact spelling and full names of titles, and other text content to be included.
- Do Provide names of songs from commercial music you’d like your product to sound like. Be very specific in any other requests you may have.
- Do understand that your mastering engineer can only work with what you have given him.
- Do understand that mixing and mastering are not the same thing. They are two very different processes.
- Do you know what ISRC’s are? iTunes usually requires them.