Preparing Your Audio Ready For Mastering

Exporting Files – Check Your Settings Carefully!

Clients often ask me how I want the audio to be supplied for the session, so here’s a quick overview on how to prepare your mix/pre-master.

  • File format – WAV (WAVE) or AIF (AIFF) are preferred, and either split-mono or stereo interleaved are both fine. If you only have CD Audio, that’s fine but please bring an original disc rather than a copy if possible.
  • Sample Rate and Bit Depth – use the sample rate of your original session if you’re mixing in the box; there is nothing to be gained from up-sampling to 96kHz if you’ve recorded at a lower rate. Bit depth should be 24 bit.
  • Do Not Normalize. There is no point, and if you are bouncing stems this will mess up the relative levels of each one.
  • Start and End points – leave some air to either end of each track – we can trim it later.
  • Check your bounces – it may be tedious but always listen through to your files before the session!
  • Check your Stems – if you want to master from stems then listen to them together to make sure the mix is complete and balanced the way you intended.

Level – there’s no point in using plug-ins across the output just to make it loud. By all means try limiting it yourself to see how it will sound, but provide me with a mix rather than a mix-made-louder. It’ll give me more to work with, and can make all the difference. However, if you’re using buss compression to enhance the feel of the track, please leave it on because that is a part of the mix you have created. You can provide options with and without whatever mix-buss effects you’ve been experimenting with too of course and we can choose the best one with you, but just don’t brickwall it please.

 Other things you might need for your session
  • A running order – It’s best for me to sequence the album at the end of the session; getting the fades and gaps just right so that everything flows nicely. That being the case, it’s a good idea to have made the decision about running order beforehand if possible.
  • ISRC codes. These are explained here – if you’re going to need them and you want your master to go into production quickly, then get them sorted out ahead of the session if you can.