Ciao guys, Manuel's here from masteryourtrack.com.
In this tutorial, we are going to see how to prepare your mix to be mastered.
There are a few tips I would like to share with you to optimize the export and avoid common mistakes. In this article, I've provided some examples using ProTools, but the same advice is valid for any other DAW (Logic, Ableton, Cubase, Nuendo, Reaper, Fruity Loops, Studio One, etc.)
So the short answer to the question "How do I have to export the mix to get it mastered?" is:
Remove any limiter plugin from the master bus.
Make sure the master bus doesn't peak. If it does bring down the level until it doesn't.
Export the song in .wav or .aiff at 24bit using the original sample rate
But let's see more in depth how the professional world works.
OPTIMISE THE PROJECT
1 Remove any limiters from the master bus.
Limiters can reduce the number of options the Mastering Engineer has to manipulate the sound
2 Leave some headroom
Someone recommends 3 dBFS some other 6 or 10 dBFS. The truth is that if you are mixing at least at 24bit, your master bus shouldn't clip. The M.E. will be able to adjust the volume level according to his needs.
3 Leave one bar of silence at the beginning of the track
Often when you mix, you set the DAW's delay compensation mode ON. In some DAW, this can create a short fade-in at the beginning of the song. To avoid it, it's always better to leave a bar of silence before the track begins.
4 Make sure all reverb and delay tails ring out by the end of the song
When you export in some DAW, you have to set the length of the export. It happens quite often to receive mixes with the tails cut off. A good tip is to turn up the volume at the end of the song and make sure that all the reverbs and delay fully ring out when setting the export length.
At masteryourtrack.com we accept the following files formats Sample rate: 44.1 KHz - 48 KHz - 88.2 KHz - 96 KHz
Bit depth: 24 bit - 32 bit (16 bits can be mastered, but it's not ideal)
File type: WAV - AIFF
1 File Type
WAV and AIFF are the recommended file types as they are lossless.
Interleaved (this means that it's going to create a stereo file).
3 Bit Depth
24 Bit or 32 Bit (float). 16 Bit can be mastered but is not ideal.
4 Sample Rate
Use the same sample rate of the mixing project (44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz). Don't upsample or downsample.
In some DAW, you can apply the dithering when exporting. The dithering process is used when you convert the sample rate.
Since you don't need to convert the sample rate, don't apply any dither.
Again, if your DAW gives you this option, don't apply any normalization.
LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST
1 Name the tracks correctly (tracklist)
Most people underestimate this point while it is essential.
First of all, it's important because it looks professional and second of all because you make the communication easier. If you need to ask some change to the M.E., you can refer to the song using its naming. Doing so, he will exactly know which song you are talking about as well as everyone else involved in the production process (Producer, Record Label, Mixing Engineer, etc.). It's also a great idea to provide the tracklist by merely putting the tracklist number before the name of the song.
1.1 The importance of the tracklist
Mastering wise knowing the tracklist is essential to optimise the silences between the songs, create tailored micro automation to make the album/ep flow better, underline the listening journey through the album/ep if there are climax moments.
Here is an example of a well-organised files folder:
Folder name: The Skyliners - Above the Sky (Album)
Inside the folder:
03 Above the sky
2 Double-check the exports before the submission
This is a straightforward thing to do.
Just open a new project and import all the exports. Make sure that everything is okay.
3 Communication (something to look after)
If you are not sure about something or you want your M.E. to look particularly after some aspect of your album/ep/song, tell him before the session.
Behind that screen, there is a person happy to help you to achieve your goals and eventually give you some good advice. Make sure to be clear, be concise, and practical.
I hope this article was helpful.