Can I do a test mastering?
It's basically not a problem to have a test mastering however, it is important to work with the mastering engineer.
You should communicate your wishes in advance and also accompany corrections.
Simply having several test masterings done by different mastering engineers and comparing them afterwards makes no sense, because one mastering engineer makes it louder, the other wider in the stereo image and the third brighter and so on ... .
Mastering is about a collaboration between the mastering engineer and the artist.
What should I communicate to the mastering engineer?
Describe to the mastering engineer in which direction the mastering should go.
Are there any sound preferences?
How loud do you want your mastering to be?
You are welcome to give references to the mastering engineer.
This can be a favorite band or album of a band. This can also be your previous album.
Is there a favorite or a single release on your album?
You should also tell me if you need different exports such as:
Instrumentals, acapella, live edits, radio edits and so on.
How do I prepare the mix for mastering?
Basically you should give the best possible mix.
Don't play with the idea that you can get this under control during mastering.
If you are unsure about the mix, you can also have a stem mastering done.
(See: When is Stem Mastering useful?)
My tip: Mix into a limiter to assess how it will behave later when mastering.
For example, if you notice that an instrument is disproportionately sensitive to the limiter,
you should do some post-processing on this channel.
You should then export your pre-master without a limiter.
(See: Effects on the master bus?)
If you have doubts about the relationship between bass and treble, give the mix a little more bass instead of more treble. This allows the mastering engineer to shape the bass.Too harsh treble are more difficult to tame.
Can I give my mastering engineer a chance to listen to my tracks in advance?
Yes, please! Before the actual mastering, give the mastering engineer a listen to your finished mix so that he can give you tips or point out problems.
You don't have to make any effort to submit a particularly loud pre-master.
It is important that you do not have the master bus clipped and that you of course switch off the limiter for the final mix.
Effects on the master bus?
If you are an experienced mixing engineer, you can of course play your pre-master with compression on the master bus.
If you are not yet so experienced, I advise against compression on the Master Bus.
For two reasons:
On the one hand, there are problems for the mastering engineer if you want stem mastering.
Secondly, the mastering engineer will probably be able to do a better sounding compression.
What needs to be considered in the mixdown?
Please make sure that the beginning and end of your tracks are not cut off.
For example, a kick drum cut off at the beginning or a reverb cut off at the end of a track cause more work, which the mastering engineer will ultimately charge you for
In the end, you should give the mastering engineer a rough mix AND the pre-master without the limiter. This allows the mastering engineer to assess, for example, how loudly you want mastering.
In what format should I deliver my tracks?
Please give me your tracks as Wav or Aif. Data reduced formats like MP3 or AAC or similar do not make sense for mastering. Only in exceptional cases, for example if you only have an MP3, will I master the data-reduced track.
At what bit rate should I submit my pre-master?
You are welcome to hand in your pre-master in 32 bit floating point or 24 bit fixed point.
At what sampling rate should I submit my pre-master?
Submit your track at the sampling rate in which you created your session.
Preferably between 48 kHz and 96 kHz. Of course, 44.1 KHz is also possible.
Please no subsequent upsampling. If necessary, only the mastering engineer should do this.
Should I dither?
Please no dithering before mastering. Dithering is the final step in mastering.
How should I label my tracks?
If you know the order of the tracks, please label as follows. For example for streaming or CD: 01 track name, 02 track name and so on. Or for vinyl: A1 track name…. B1 track name ... .
Are Mastering corrections for free?
I make corrections so often until both sides are satisfied.
If you make changes to the mix and I play your mix again through the mastering setup. I would charge that extra.
In such a case, it is good for the mastering engineer to know what you have changed.
When does stem mastering make sense?
If you are an experienced mixer, you will most likely not need stem mastering.
However, if you are unsure about individual components of your mix, feel free to give the mastering engineer stems.
I can certainly help you with the question of which stems make sense.
How should I export my stems?
If you need stem mastering, there are a few things to consider:
Your individual stems played together should sound exactly like your stereo mixdown
Therefore, give me a stereo mixdown so that I can compare the stems with the stereo mixdown and have an orientation.
Always the same starting point and end point.
Can I leave effects on the master bus?
If you give me stem mastering, there must be no effects like limiter or compression on the master bus. The problem is that all channels on the master bus, sent through compression, for example, interact with each other. This means that if you send individual stems through the compression, the compressor will react differently than if you play all channels through the compressor at the same time.
Send Effects on a mix channel
It is important that you send all send effects that belong to a channel to the group channel in which the channel is located. Otherwise there is a risk that you will export the groups without Send Effects.
Side chaining on individual channels
If you use side chaining for your channel, it is important that you do NOT switch off all channels that trigger the side channing signal when exporting the stems. Otherwise the side chaining effect would not apply.
Exception: Some digital audio workstations are able to export all stems at the same time.
If this is not possible with your digital audio workstation, there is the following work a round:
Let the side chaining effect be triggered by a channel that has no audio output. This track is then placed in the group of the signal that is to be triggered.
Is it possible to have the tracks mixed and mastered at GWM?
At GWM you can mix and master your tracks at the same time.
Here is a brief explanation:
I am not a mix engineer. You are still responsible for making all decisions regarding the mix yourself.
What I can offer is a mixing from the mastering engineer's point of view.
That is, I will mix your individual tracks so that no mixing bug fixes need to take place during mastering.
You prepare a full stereo mix in a way that you couldn't do better. You export this stereo mix to me as a stereo track.
Then you prepare all individual channels as follows:
All artistic effects remain in the mix on the tracks. For me, artistic effects mean, for example:
Chorus, delays, distortion, flanger, reverbs, extreme equalization (e.g. telephone effect) and so on.
On the other hand, you switch off all mixing effects such as compression, limiting, de-essing, equalization, saturation and so on.
If in doubt, you leave an effect on, rather than off.
Now you export all tracks individually. All send effects should also be exported individually or as one stereo channel.
Which Production Master do you need?
Very different Production Masters can be created here.
Please tell me which Production Master you need. The first Production Master is for free.
I charge every additional Production Master. You pay here for listening to each Production Master in real time with headphones. I do this so that no mistakes creep in before the record is produced or released.
I usually do Vinyl Production Master in 96 KHz and 24 Bit.
I create CD Production Master as DDP in 44.1 KHz and 16 bit. (For CD I need exact band names, track names, album name and possibly ISRCodes and / or EAN codes).
I need this data for the CD text. Please note that umlauts and exotic characters are not suitable for CD text.
I can produce Digital Downloads Production Masters (e.g. iTunes, Bandcamp) in all desired formats. I export reduced data like AAC or MP3 with -1db Headroom.
I can also produce Streaming Production Masters (e.g. Apple Digital Masters, Spotify, Qobuz etc.) in all desired formats. Here also with -1db headroom.
How loud do you master for streaming services?
I basically master your tracks as it makes sense for the track or album.
I.e. I will choose the SAME volume for ALL Production Masters, even if Streaming Services may adjust the volume of your tracks afterwards. I do this because, for example, with a hip hop track it makes no artistic sense to master the track more dynamically for a streaming service. That would be counterproductive because hip hop is usually mastered out loud so that the track is “in your face”. Basically, I will make a headroom of -1 db for data compressed formats (MP3, AAC, etc.) to avoid later clipping.
Can the mastering engineer listen to my vinyl test pressing?
No problem! I will digitize two (or more) tracks from each side and listen in the A / B comparison and then give you a recommendation. I charge this work extra.
GWM is "Apple Digital Masters" certified. Formely known as Mastered for iTunes.