There are a number of audio mastering tips that will help you prepare your mixes before working with a cd mastering studio. It's important to know how to prepare and submit you mixes' so you can get the best sound for your songs. The mastering engineer wants to start with a clean slate, primarily on the master bus and will need to have the proper file type and format to get the most from your music.
Eliminate Noise on the Mix
As you go through your mix eliminate any noise or pops that may be in each track. Use fades as necessary to cut out any spots that may just be containing recorded noise. If this is done in the mix stage within each track it will keep the overall noise level down when the mastering engineer begins to equalize and compresses the mix.
Keep Your Mix Clean and Dynamic
Overusing processors especially dynamic processors (compressors) on the master bus can destroy a mix and make it difficult, if not impossible for the mastering engineer to make a great master. Unless there's a specific sound of a master bus processor desired for the mix, it's best to keep the master buss free of outboard processing or plugins. If master bus processing is used make sure to notify the mastering engineer of its type and settings.
The loudest part in a mix should peak at no more that -3db on the master bus.
There should never be a limiter set on the master bus. Final dynamic control and level should be left to the mastering engineer. This allows the engineer to create the proper dynamic level for radio play, CD, or mp3 duplication.
- Lossy file formats should never be used when submitting an audio file for mastering.
- The two most popular file types for mastering are: .WAV and .AIFF. Both of these file types are lossless (non-compresses/converted), and either file type is excellent for a mastering engineer to work with. AIFF files are normally used on Mac systems while WAV files are traditionally PC. Make sure your mastering studio is able to work with the format you have.
- Additional to using .WAV or .AIFF file types. When submitting a mix for mastering. The file should be kept in the same resolution as it was mixed in (no down conversions).
- For Example: A song mixed at 24bit 96kHz should be submitted as a 24bit 96kHz file (.WAV or .AIFF)
Reference Song Submission
Submitting any previously done mixes or masters of the song/s to be worked on, along with a few different reference songs that have a similar sound desired is excellent for giving the mastering engineer an idea of your musical vision. This could be a reference to bands who inspire you, or who have a similar sound you like.
Mastering From Stems
Mastering from stems is becoming a more common practice. This is where the mix is consolidated into a number of stereo stems (subgroups) to be submitted individually. For example you might have different tracks for Drums, Bass, Keys, Guitars, Vocal, and Background Vocal's. This gives the mastering engineer excellent control over the mix and master, allowing for the absolute best sound possible. However, it's a substantially more involved process. If a mix from stems is desired, following the same steps listed above is best for each stem.
Note: When submitting stems, each file must start at the same time in the song even if each of the stems' audio regions start at different times.
Make Pro Songs
Welcome to Sage Audio — where we’ve been providing top-tier studio mastering services and audio education for over two decades now. We understand the challenges of achieving that elusive "professional" sound and are committed to helping you attain it in your own mixes and masters.
That’s why we created the Sage Audio Membership™.
Just for signing up, you receive 10 free mastered songs per month with your own dedicated mastering engineer, unlimited mixing feedback, and access to Sage Audio University™ mixing and mastering courses - which include start-to-finish walkthrough sessions for various genres and 35 multitrack sessions for hands-on practice.
This platform is supported by our thriving community and tight-knit network of audio engineers. Every day, we see and hear great wins in the membership from both new and seasoned engineers, noticing a huge improvement in their mixes and masters after joining.
There are 6 unique value-points inside the Sage Audio membership, so let’s go over each one so you can decide if it’s the right fit for you.
1. 10 Free Mastered Songs Per Month
- Get 10 free mastered songs per month with your own dedicated professional mastering engineer so you can get all your mixes sounding like professional songs.
- All 10 free mastered songs per month will accumulate in your account and will not expire as for as long as you remain a member.
- You’ll get your own dedicated Sage Audio mastering engineer to discuss all your project needs 1:1 so they can create custom masters that are specific to you and sound exactly how you want.
- Unlimited revisions with your dedicated Sage Audio mastering engineer. As a standard of our service, we are not happy until you are happy with the sound of your masters.
- All masters are delivered as commercial, industry-standard high-resolution 24-bit HD WAV masters so they will sound clean and clear on every platform.
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- This is highly valuable - giving you access to a thriving community of mixing engineers who can provide you with feedback about what you can improve first before sending your mix to be professionally mastered.
3. Sage Audio University™ (SAU) — (Mixing and Mastering Education Platform)
- SAU is a modern audio engineering education platform that includes in-depth mixing and mastering course curriculums that match the new music industry.
- SAU is designed for every experience level, ranging from first-time mixing engineers to advanced engineers. The techniques and concepts taught can be applied to any DAW to create industry-leading mixes without expensive software or plugins - and free plugin alternatives are suggested throughout every course curriculum.
- SAU course curriculums include Start-to-Finish session walkthrough lessons for multiple genres so you can follow along with your preferred genre.
- SAU Membership Degree Certification, which can be downloaded and showcased on your website, social channels, and portfolio for as long as you remain a member.
- Get first access to all future SAU course curriculums to continually build and refine your mixing and mastering skills as the industry evolves.
4. Sage Audio Community
- The Sage Audio community is a tight-knit community of passionate audio engineers that can provide you with real-world mixing feedback, discussions, mix competitions, networking, collaborations, and more.
5. 700+ In-depth Sage Audio Mixing and Mastering Videos
- Access 700+ in-depth Sage Audio mixing and mastering videos - curated and organized into playlists so you can take a deep-dive into all aspects of audio engineering with thousands of hours of concise, expertly crafted Sage Audio videos to continually improve your mixing and mastering skills at your own pace.
6. 70+ GB of Curated Sage Audio Downloadable Content, Including:
- 36 multitrack sessions spanning multiple genres for mixing practice.
- 57 un-mastered mixes spanning multiple genres for mastering practice.
- 62 Recommended Free Plugins List (vetted, tested, and approved, so you don’t have to).
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- Sage Audio Membership Badge to showcase on your website, social channels, and portfolio.