Mixing Preperation Before Mastering
Creating balanced mixes before submitting them for mastering is an important and often overlooked part of music production. In many cases, polished sounding masters are created after the mixes have been well-detailed and well-balanced. To work towards achieving detailed and polished sounding songs, it’s best to spend as much time as possible crafting the sound of each mix before submitting them for mastering.
Referencing Technique for Mixing
If you’re having trouble creating the mixed-sound that you would like for a song. A common refencing technique that many engineers use, is: import a song into your mixing session that has a similar sound to the sound that you’re trying to achieve, and then use the following technique:
After you have a reference song imported into your mix-session, match the level of the reference song to your mix-session. Then spend about 30-45 seconds listening to your mix, and then the same amount of time (30-45 seconds) listening to the reference song. The reason it’s recommended to take this amount of time to listen between your mix and the reference song, is to let your ears adjust to the frequency and dynamic differences. Switching between your mix and the reference song with this amount of time can be done as many times as needed. Doing this can help you make more accurate decisions when adjusting your mix to match the reference song more closely.
Also, keep in mind, that most likely, the reference song will already be mastered, and mastering compression can reduce the level and impact of fast-transients and dynamic song transitions. So, in most cases, it’s a good idea to balance your mix to have slightly more fast-transients level, impact, and dynamic song transitions. For example, regarding fast-transients: If you’re mixing a song that has drums, in most cases mastering compression will reduce fast-transient drum sounds, such as; kick and snare drum, so, to account for these reductions that will occur during mastering, you may consider keeping the kick and snare drum 1-3 dB louder in the mix before submitting for mastering.
Mixing Preparation Questions
If you have any questions about whether a mix is ready for mastering, please feel free to email us an mp3 version of the mix to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be glad to offer some feedback and suggestions about the mix.
File Submission for Mastering
Below are a few recommended steps to take before sending a mix for mastering
- Remove any pre-mastering processing, such as; heavy-compression or limiting from master-bus (main output).
- Export (bounce) each mix as a 24 bit .WAV or .AIF file. (Do not apply dithering)