The following is a list of technical preparation guidelines and mixing tips. These can be used as a checklist if you are unsure of the process.
It is important that digital audio received has a few dB of headroom and no full scale clipping.
Maximising levels during tracking and mixing can seem appealing but it is often at the expense of increased and very audible distortion within some plugins and analogue electronics. It’s worth noting that distortion cannot be reversed during mastering.
Don’t get too hung up on meter readings. Just make it sound good to your ear whilst allowing a few dB of headroom on each mix channel and the master bus.
Master Bus Processing:
Compression, Multi-band compression and stereo widening across the mix bus can narrow the scope of what’s possible during mastering. They should be used judiciously.
As a general rule, if a plugins only purpose is to make it sound louder, it’s probably not needed.
Feel free to send mixes with and without compression if it’s a concern.
No brickwall limiting please.
Tops and Tails:
Please allow a few seconds at either end of your audio, either silence or noise.
If you’d like me to fade the audio for you please include notes or audio examples.
Snipped song starts/endings can be repaired if needed.
Edits and Crossfades:
Digital clicks and pops can be caused by a number of problems within a DAW. Two of the main culprits are edits between individual takes without a crossfade and bass tracks that have been snipped mid cycle. Limiters and compressors used during mastering can make these problems more audible. Pops and clicks can be repaired during mastering but the least destructive method is to target them during mixing.
Try to spend an extra few minutes listening your mixes for any errors that might have occurred during export.
Formats – Digital:
I can accept digital audio as WAV, AIFF and formats up to 32 bit float, 192 kHz.
DSF and DSFDIFF DSD files are also acceptable.
I don’t accept MP3, M4a, AAC etc. unless a lossless codec has been used.
If the only available files are compressed, please make me aware of this in your session notes.
Physical formats digital:
Formats – Analogue:
I can accept 1/4″ or 1/2″ analogue tape at 15 or 30 ips.
Please include alignment tones of 40Hz, 100Hz, 1kHz and 10kHz at your noted reference level. If possible please upload digital files for reference.
Considerations for Vinyl:
When deciding on your track order for vinyl it’s worth noting that the longer the playing time per side, the lower the records playback level will need to be.
Due to the reduced circumference and poorer high frequency response towards the middle of the disc, slower or softer tracks are often placed here.
Sibilance, excessive high frequency content and hard panned low frequency elements are the most common causes of cutting problems.
I don’t currently offer cutting as part of my mastering service, only vinyl pre-mastering. The lacquer cut takes place either in the pressing plant or dedicated facility where a flat cut can be requested. Please contact me if you would like me to put you in touch with an experienced cutting engineer.
|Format.||Maximum Length Per Side. (minutes)||Optimal Length.|
|7″ 33 1/3||9||7|
|10″ 33 1/3||14||9|
|12″ 33 1/3||24||22|