MASTERING LEVELS: How to Prepare Mixes for the Mastering Session
Supply Your Music To Us Correctly
Being happy with your mix down is important. Now, why not also maximize the benefits of mastering by making sure your mix meets the following 2:
Make sure your signal has NO DISTORTION.
Make sure your output levels are not too LOUD.
Check your playback meters to see that they are not constantly on the red.
If using software, output levels should not be over-clipping excessively throughout the mix.
High peaks should be ideally at – 0.5 db and lower.
This example shows 3 stereo mix signal levels. Our focus is on levels.
The first signal (1) on the left, peaks at about -11 db which is plenty of headroom for us to apply our mastering magic.
The second signal (2) from the center, peaks at -0.5 db. We can work with it, but for best results peak levels should be between -3 and -6db .
The third signal (3) on the right, peaks at above 0 db and clips the meter. That’s not ideal for professional mastering, specially if it’s not the peak but the average sum levels (of the L + R channels). We don’t recommend you submit mixes like that.
The main goal for the final product is to improve the dynamic condition of your tracks. Avoid using any compressors, expanders, limiters or any other dynamic modifier processors on the main bus in order to send your mixes to us.
Don’t over compress your tracks. Compression is a non reversible process. It’s best not to compare your mix levels with other commercial CD’s. This is the most common mistake that producers are doing during the mixing sessions.
Don’t use equalizers on the main bus in order to achieve low end boost or high frequency emphasizing. Just be sure that the mix is proper balanced and every track is sitting well in the mix.
Don’t overuse reverbs. This will make your tracks sound dull and lifeless. Try to keep the main vocal tracks strong in the center in order to make tracks properly balanced. Send us the mixes at the exact bit rate and sample rate as the recording and mixing projects were made. Don’t do any upsample or downsample processing. Just keep it raw for mastering.
If you need help with your mixes or would like us to mix your tracks for best mixing and mastering results, check our online mixing service.