Frequently Asked Questions
A few tips to get your mix ready for mastering:
Plugins on the master bus:
<If you use compressors/eq on the master bus, it would be better to export one version with effects and the other one without.
Avoid also limiters and saturation clips.
<This gives the mastering engineer a choice if the effect version is over-compressed or generally over-processed.
Be careful that the signal does not saturate when you cut the effects on the master. If this is the case, simply turn down the master fader. Do not change any settings on individual tracks.
<Ideally the overall maximum level of your 24bit mix should be between -12dbfs and -3dbfs. However, if peaks reach 0dbfs without ever clipping in the red, the mix is still usable for mastering.
- Too low a level leads to an alteration of the signal resolution
- Too high a level leaves little margin to the mastering engineer for corrections or improvements to be made to the sound. Note that in the digital domain, the saturation clip is synonymous with data destruction and makes your mix unusable during mastering. If you like the saturation effect, there are specialized processors that do not alter the integrity of the signal.
<If your mix is too loud, don't hesitate to lower the master fader until the highest level is between -12dbfs and -3dbfs. In 24bits you can lower the fader to -48dbfs while keeping the total quality of a 16bits cd.
Unfortunately, if you don't respect these few rules, your mix will be unusable for mastering. It will not be possible to restore the data due to the saturation clip. It will not be possible to restore the data due to the saturation clip.
In any case, there is no point in mixing too loudly, the mastering engineer will raise the level of your mix to the maximum by bringing clarity, punch and definition.
Some mixing tricks to avoid having to correct them when mastering:
The best of mastering often comes from the best of mixes.
For all instruments recorded in an analog way (drums, guitar etc...) or for mixes made exclusively in the analog domain, don't hesitate to use the mute automation of your sequencer or mixer to cut the background noise. Mute tracks or groups when they are inactive. These tips are particularly useful during intros/outros or breaks: this is where the background noise is most noticeable.
Phase and polarity:
<Problems are particularly noticeable on the battery sockets .
Phase alterations are also due to the application of stereo image widening effects. Check your mono mix to see if these elements are still noticeable or if they disappear completely after reversing the polarity .
Most professional audio sequencers offer a correlation indicator to check for phase problems. When this indicator shows a value around +1 your sound is in phase, -1 means that the signal is out of phase or you have reversed the polarity and you will not hear it again in
<Infra low frequencies below 40HZ are often useless on most tracks. They can create problems on the final volume of your master. Make sure your tracks don't contain too much of them. For example the voice can be cut below 80HZ with a filter of -12db per octave to avoid pops and hums.
Be careful not to do this kind of processing on the master bus, it could make your mix "tiny".
Sibilant and high-pitched sounds :
Sibilants and other clicking or screeching sounds are serious problems to deal with during mastering. Make sure that the vocalist still controls this, otherwise feel free to use a multi-band compressor or desser to attenuate these artifacts. You can also use volume automation to mitigate these kinds of problems.
The voices level :
<A too big difference in volume in the voice is very difficult to correct during mastering. First of all, make sure to do a precise automation follow-up at low level during the mixing so as not to operate too much compression afterwards.
However the compressor or / and limiter is a great tool to give color and polish the voice volume. Electro-optical compressors are great for polishing while FET compressors are often used to give character and presence to the voice.