Is Your Track Ready To Be Mastered? | Label Worx
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Is Your Track Ready To Be Mastered?
Posted By : Laura Holness
|
Posted Date : May 10th, 2020
Knowing when a track is finished can be difficult for any producer, but making sure that your track is ready to be mastered before sending it to the engineer is much simpler. We master thousands of tracks at Label Worx and wanted to share some simple tips for ensuring your track is ready for us to work on.

To find out more about our mastering service - get in touch via the website.


1. CHECK YOUR LEVELS
After hours of messing with EQ, compression, stereo spreaders and distortion etc, take a break from your mix. Come back another day with fresh ears and just mix the levels. There's a lot to be said about just simply getting the levels right rather than smothering more plugins on there to fix any issues.

When you balance your levels, you will hear if the low-mids off your bassline are lost, or if the breathy part of a vocal is missing. Give your track a fresh, balanced mix and then once you're happy with it, fix the issues. This is rule #1 of any mix.

2. REMOVE LIMITERS
Remove any limiters or plugins on the master fader that are inserted just for the sake of loudness. Sometimes, mix engineers apply quick and rough clipping/limiting plugins to the master fader to get mix approvals, and to hear how the mix might react to mastering treatment. This is fine, but be prepared to remove it before sending off to a mastering engineer because they can handle the loudness/clipping/limiting after completing any other processing that may be needed during mastering. Without proper headroom, very little can be achieved without doing more harm than good - and if your engineer is using analogue gear, decent mastering is out of the question when there isn't proper headroom.

3. LISTEN, THEN LISTEN AGAIN.
Carefully listen to the beginning and end of each song for stray noises and anomalies, and remove anything you do not want. I said carefully. Close your eyes, use headphones. Doing a separate and more analytical listening session before sending off for mastering can be very beneficial. This is also a good time to listen out for any pops and clicks from bad edits or transitions.

4. DON'T HIT - OR EVEN WORSE, GO ABOVE - 0dBFS
Avoid peak levels reaching 0dBFS. I see all sorts of suggestions on the internet about where to have your peak levels pre-mastering but the simple answer is there is no magic number. Just make sure that you don't hit 0dBFS, or have a plugin acting as a limiter applying a brick-wall ceiling somewhere before 0dBFS, and you'll be in good shape.

This is largely for those mixing 'in the box' - if you're going analogue and capturing a stereo mix back to digital, it's actually much simpler: don't clip the input on the way back to digital, and don't apply any further digital processing. Export the newly captured stereo mix at the native bit-depth and sample rate of the session. The mastering engineer will take it from there.

5. LASTLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:

LISTEN TO THE ACTUAL BOUNCED MIX FROM START TO FINISH TO ENSURE NOTHING IS MISSING OR LEFT IN BY ACCIDENT.

It happens way too often. We send orders back to clients for them to find out a plugin was missing or a channel was muted. It would have been an easy fix to check this yourself before sending in, but catching it after the mastering has been started can be a headache, especially if the mastering engineer is using analog gear as many do.
www.label-worx.com/mastering/tracks

 

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