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mastering faq

how do i prepare for mastering?

Preparing for mastering is pretty simple and there's a lot of bad info out there. These best practices are intended to provide clarity in a sea of noise for those new to mastering and to serve as a handy reminder for those who are more seasoned.

  • Generally, send mixes that aren't clipping your master bus. You don't need to lower the loudness or "create headroom."

  • If you've built your mixes into a limiter, send them with the limiter printed. Ideally and if possible, send the unlimited mixes with screenshots of your limiter settings.

  • If you've made a client ref by chucking a limiter on at the end just to give a sense of final loudness, send both client refs and unlimited mixes.

  • Send your mixes at whatever sample rate and bit depth you worked at. Don't upsample or downsample. 24 bit or 32 bit are ideal, but if you worked at 16 bit, that's OK too. Be mindful of DAW settings that may default you to your last used settings that may not be the native sample rate of your session.

  • Try to align your alt mix (instrumentals, TV, cleans, a cappella, etc) prints with your main mixes so file lengths and start times are identical. If there are mix changes after the first master, it's worth making sure your new mix lines up with your first mix.

  • WAV's are preferred but AIFFs will work too if that's what you got.

  • Send your files via your preferred file sharing service like Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc.

  • Consider your sharing settings and make sure links don't require an access request or expire too quickly. Avoid Google Drive (please).

  • Label your folders so it is clear what is for mastering and what is reference.

  • If you're working on an EP or a full length album, it's nice to have the track order. Having the correct track titles, at least by the end of the project, will help too. If you're going for a specific transition between songs, include a mockup of what you're trying to do.

  • Listen to your mixes before sending to make sure everything is correct!

Bonus tip: please reply all to keep management, label, and relevant people on copy. They’re all on there for a reason!

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