Preparing Your Songs For Mastering

Preparing your song for mastering can be a confusing process. Especially with the vast amount of information out there. Here are some tips that help me give you the best possible Master for your music.

What sample rate and bit depth do I render my song to?

You should render (or bounce) your song to whatever sample rate you were using in your session. Whether it’s 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz or 96 kHz, it doesn’t matter. I recommend not changing the sample rate and let me complete the final down sampling to 44.1 kHz. If you need your Master delivered at a higher quality sample rate, just let me know.

The same goes for bit depth. In my opinion, the dithering process should only be done once. Again, whether you send it in 32, 24 or 16 bit, it doesn’t matter. Just keep it at the original sample rate and bit depth.

So what is the optimal file?

For file types, you can send in a .WAV or .AIFF file. I prefer a stereo interleaved file. Please do not send MP3s or any “compressed” file.

How loud should the song be?

Ideally, I would like approximately -6db of headroom. On your master fader, here’s what -6db looks like:

Ableton Master Channel

Do I need to remove all processing from the Master Channel?

I would prefer that you remove all processing from the Master Channel. The reason being is that if you have things like EQ, Compression and Limiting on your Master Channel, it really limits the processing I’m able to do on my end.

However, if you feel that your bus compressor adds a distinct character to the song, then by all means leave it on. Just send me a note with details on the processing you’ve put on the Master Channel.

Or, another option is to send two files. One with the processing on and one with the processing off.

Naming your files.

This is often overlooked, but makes a huge difference. Ideally, a good file name will look like this:

Artist Name – Song Name (Original Mix) – 125BPM – Premaster

If at all possible, please list the tempo or BPM of your song in the file as well.

Make sure your Mix is ready.

This should go without saying however, please make sure your mix is ready. Does the placement of your kick drum in relation to the bass sound good? Are the high hats at the right level? Do the vocals sit right in the mix? Having a good mix is the first and by far the most important step in the process.

The rule of thumb is this… If the mix isn’t good, the final master will not be good. I can’t stress that enough.

If you want me to listen to the mix beforehand, by all means, please send it over. My role is to be of service and my goal is to help your music sound as best as possible.