Get Ready for Mastering
Save time by following these steps BEFORE you send in your files. Any questions, give me a shout.
NOISE. Noise is anything that is bothering you...hiss, buzz, click, crackle, dropouts, booms, sibilance, phase, interference, etc. Solo each track LOUD and listen for noise. Both signal AND noise will only get LOUDER in mastering.
SOUNDS THAT STICK OUT. Harsh cymbals, vocal sibilance, biting sound effects, etc. may be hard to help in mastering without adversely affecting the whole mix. Fix these before sending in your mix.
WAVY GRAVY. Parts need to have consistent volume levels. Mastering can't magically even out instrument levels throughout the song. Watch out for abrupt gain shifts, tonal shifts, awkward fades, etc. especially in lead instruments and vocals--make these levels consistent and you'll get a better master.
COMPETING PARTS. Watch out for guitars, horns, keys, snare, etc. getting in the way of the vocal. This goes for too much going on in the low end as well. I actually love complex mixes, but less is (often) more and can make a stronger statement. Make bolder mix decisions when things compete (change levels, EQ, panning, delays, etc.).
OVERCOMPRESSION! There's just no easy way to un-compress music and make it sound good. Please dial back the compression so that your tracks sound dynamic, and less "exciting" (more like a demo) but instruments are still fairly balanced. Then I can make it as thick and punchy as you want it in mastering.
REMOVE UNNECESSARY PLUGINS. Reconsider the your track, group, and master channel effects (especially compression and pseudo-mastering plugins like wideners). Use only what you need to get the tones and consistency you want, but give me a more dynamic (more 'demo' sounding) mix and I can punch it up nicely for you. PLEASE contact me with any concerns NOW, before you spend time exporting your files!
REMOVE IN & OUT FADES if you want me to recreate these for you at higher resolution in mastering.
HOW LOUD SHOULD MY MIX BE? Any level is fine as long as there is no clipping. No need to raise or lower the track level as long as peak meters stay out of the red.
EXPORT a realtime bounce at 32-bit in stereo at the native project sample rate. DO NOT RESAMPLE / UPSAMPLE YOUR PROJECT TO A HIGHER SAMPLE RATE - it does NOT provide any extra fidelity. Keep tracks at whatever their sample rate was when you recorded it.
DOUBLE-CHECK that the exported mix file is stereo, 32-bit, at the native sample rate of your session (e.g. 44.1kHz) and that it includes all instruments. Re-submissions will incur an extra charge.
REFERENCES. For each track you submit, provide 1 or more commercial songs of which you like the overall balance, tone, loudness, or sheen. Include any roughs, premixes, etc. that may help me see your vision more clearly.
If you purchased the option to master from stems/groups instead of a stereo mix, I will finish your mix and achieve your final balances in my treated room before mastering the track. I'll be following your guidance/references for balances, panning, depth, and width. I'll also be sending you an extra revision to be sure you like where I'm taking your music.
NOTE: Your stem outputs should have no group compression, yet maintain a consistent level in each song section. Tone, texture, and groove should be mostly dialed in. Automate as needed to create consistent sounding parts.
EFFECTS should be routed to their relative subgroups. Drum reverbs should go to the drum group, vocal delays returned to the vocal group, etc. Prepare a maximum of six 32-bit stereo stems per song (example: lead vocal / bkgd vocals / drums / bass / other instruments).