prefer 24-bit .wav or AIFF files at a sample rate of 44.1
KHz, but I also support 16-bit and 32-bit files at all sample
rates, audio CD-Rs, and DAT. Mp3 files are not suitable
Preparation is really quite simple:
1. Remove ALL plugins on the master bus (EQ, compression, limiting, tape or tube emulation, etc).
the master fader so that the mix peaks around -3 dB.
3. Render your mix at the same sample rate
you tracked at, as a single stereo 24-bit or higher .wav or AIFF file.
4. You're done! Please don't alter the rendered file in any way.
have access to an audio editor, such as Sound Forge or WaveLab, please check each
track to make sure that it never reaches 0 dB. If
it does, your file is clipped, which means it was mixed
down at too high a volume. Please lower the master fader
and render your mix again.
render your files as 24 or 32-bit, even if you recorded at 16.
Mastering a 24-bit source yields a much better result than
a 16-bit source possibly can. Modern DAWs operate at
32-bits or higher internally, which means a 16-bit file is missing
at least half of the data generated by the software. If there is
absolutely no way to provide 24-bit files, your 16-bit source
needs to be properly dithered. If you need help, just let
me know and I'll walk you through each step.
not EQ, compress, limit, or normalize your mixes. This only refers to the 2-track stereo mixdown!
Feel free to EQ and compress individual tracks or groups to taste,
but once you mix those elements together into a single stereo
file, please leave it alone.
any fades you would like, and exactly when you want them
to start and end relative to the beginning of the track
(for example, "start fade out at 3:52 - end track at
4:07"). If you do the fade yourself, the sound of the
track will change through the course of the fade as my compressor
and limiter responds to the change in volume. That's why
fades are ideally done after all other processing.
to understand your artistic vision, it would help me to
hear a commercial CD with the overall sound and loudness
you are looking for. I can make your release as loud as
anything out there, at the cost of dynamic range. Dynamics
are a necessary part of music, and without them, the
ears tire quickly. The choice is up to you, but for what
it's worth, I like to err on the side of more dynamic range.
here to upload your files, or e-mail
me for the mailing address. For more advice on mixing, check out my mix tips articles.
Q: Why can't I compress the master bus? The mix sounds wimpy when I take it off.
A: I strongly recommend against mixing through a compressor, limiter, or any sort of tape/tube emulation. Sure, it may sound more "like a record," but I guarantee that it won't sound as good in the end as it could have.
First off, the order of operations is wrong. EQ is almost always performed before compression. If there's too much energy in the low bass (which is the case in about half the mixes I receive), the compressor will be driven primarily by those frequencies. That phenomenon even has a fancy name: intermodulation distortion. Adjusting the bass before compression allows me to get the proper punch and density out of your mix.
Furthermore, compressing the master bus permanently imprints your compressor's attack/release characteristics on the mix. Adding more compression on my end means superimposing the attack/release characteristics of my compressor on top of yours, which seldom produces the desired punch. It's best done once, with a mastering grade unit.
By my definition at least, mastering is any processing done on the entire mix. Compression is the one essential process that distinguishes a mastered track from an unmastered track, and it's the hardest to get right. That's why you're hiring me to do it.
If you've already mixed your album through a compressor and/or limiter (tisk tisk), and removing them ruins the mix, please send me both versions: a processed one and a clean one. In most cases, the processed version will serve as a reference as I master the clean version.