Preparing A Track Or Song For Mastering: Pre Mastering Including 9 Pro Tips

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Preparing A Track Or Song For Mastering: Pre Mastering Including 9 Pro Tips
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A complete and informative guide to preparing your track, song or audio for Mastering. From our experience here at Zeitgeist Mastering, many people send in audio for mastering that is just not optimised for best results… This video aims to change all of that… A guide showing you how to get the best and most professional results from audio mastering in 9 essential points and tips. How to export or bounce your track with confidence so that you know that you will get the most out of it! It is really just as important as the Mastering stage itself so it is worth getting right…

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Here is a summary of the 9 ESSENTIAL TIPS:

1. Make sure that there are no effects on your Master Bus when you Bounce or Export!!!

Sub Point: If there is something on your Master Bus that you think you cannot live without, send your Mastering Engineer 2 versions: A No FX Mix and an FX Mix and let your Mastering Engineer know what the effect is. Some prefer to Mix into a Master Bus or 2 Bus Compressor. If so, we say make sure it is a very good one! However, never never leave a limiter in place.

2. Make sure that the level of your Track Peaks somewhere between -6 and -3dB!

3. If the Peak Level of your Track is higher than -3dB, it is best to reduce each tracks level rather than to just drop the master fader.

4. Eliminate any unwanted noise within your Mix.

5. Try to keep your Mix Clean and Dynamic.

6. Leave some silence at the beginning and at the end of your Track (2 – 8 Bars).

7. Bounce your track in the Format that you worked in (24 Bit is the most common and is absolutely adequate).

8. Be sure not to Normalise or to apply any Dither when you Bounce or Export!
**If you do apply dither, use a dither with no noise shaping such as a TPDF (Triangular Probability Density Function) so as not to add unnecessary noise to your track – save the noise shaping for that final conversion done by the mastering engineer! This way, there will be no damage done.

9. Think about realistic and relevant reference tracks that you might be able to suggest to your Mastering Engineer.


If you follow these steps, your Final Audio Master will be the best it can be so it is worth it…

Happy Producing and Premastering!
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34 thoughts on “Preparing A Track Or Song For Mastering: Pre Mastering Including 9 Pro Tips”

  1. I can’t believe that I’ve never heard that mastering engineers want the
    master mixes to peak between -6 and -3db. All I’ve ever heard is -1. But
    that would sure explain that the first thing I see in a mastering tutorial
    is a 6db drop in initial volume. Is the mastering world mostly resigned to
    that?

    In any case, I’m taking that to heart, so hopefully the next mastering guy
    – me – will appreciate that! ;D

    Thank you very much for the advice. You learn something new every day on
    the intranets.

  2. thanks for bringing out these important points. there is a lot here that i
    did not realize.
    greetings from london

  3. Im surprised he is telling you that if you peak over -3db to destroy your
    mix by adjusting the track volumes (which means your automations will get
    destroyed) instead of doing proper gain staging.

  4. thanks for touching on the subject of floating point i looked into it more
    and it made my life way easier. Keep it up!

  5. On your first tip, what about using a slight compression on the master bus
    to glue the mix. Should that be taken out?

  6. Great tips man! Concise and on point. Keeping everything below -3dB is hard
    but necessary

  7. Thank you for the vital information! I`m a new producer in FL Studio. I`m
    just finishing my second song right now. As I did the mastering myself on
    the first song and I wasn’t happy with the results, now I intend to give my
    second one to a professional. So thanks again for this well-made video. :)

  8. Nice video, I gainstage all my tracks to peak at -10. If I still feel that
    the master buss is too hot I reduce my gainstage to -16.

  9. Really Nice overview on the topic of Mastering. (: I had fun watching your
    outlooks on Sound Engineering

    And your right Mastering wont make your mix-downs Perfect its all about
    making a Great mix-down from the start. Mastering is just that final Touch.
    Well done Boys

  10. Once you have bounced the track, when you import it on your DAW to master
    it, do you add the fx to the track or the master? and do you make a new
    session for the song youre mastering?

  11. such a great video! I have showed so many people that write music in my
    circles and its helped us all with understanding and a set of rules per say
    . Thanks Nick :)

  12. I’ve found that a little bit of compression on the output works alright as
    long as it’s subtle; something like 3:1 softknee compression at -12 to -6
    dB adds a nice “glue” to the mix, as long as the mixing engineer is careful
    to avoid the pitfalls of the loudness war while he or she is mixing. Also,
    parallel compression shouldn’t be discounted, as it gives the mix a very
    full and balanced sound.

  13. Great tips thanks. Can I send you some files to check if they’re ok to
    master? I have followed your advice?

  14. Wonderful video thanks… Please, I have just one place in my song that’s
    clipping…. What should I do? ?

  15. i wasn’t sure this would be a good video because realistically speaking
    these are all common sense tips. but its nice to hear them again. it
    triggers other ideas I have / have had. im beginning to realize after years
    and years of mixing, mastering that the mix down stage is the most
    important then any of the steps involved in the finished product, but what
    I have really learned over the years is to not add, your better to
    subtract. to many people.. with all these plug ins and tools want to add on
    FX, boost EQ, pile on the compression. Just don’t ! ..ive recorded guitar
    tracks that I haven’t even touched for the mix down, meaning I have not
    even Eq’d them or put on FX. the more you start screwing with a signal the
    more vomit you introduce. sure there are times where you will need to fix
    something to make sit in the mix, possibly to harsh, not enough boom, to
    boxy. but I find the cleaner the signal (I mix heavey rock / metal /
    alternative) im not talking clean guitar signal, im talking a signal with
    out a shit load of over done FX / compression / EQ. the better that signal
    stands out individually in the spectrum of a mix. Remember, simplicity
    rules and that will hold till the end of time.

  16. you are clear,crisp and accurate. iam also a mastering engineer i face
    these problems often by customers mix level above -3db.there won’t be any
    headroom left to master it.but nowadays iam sharing your video with my
    customers.so now a days i get enough headroom to master the song in nice
    manner.thank you bro.

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