The following is a list of technical preparation guidelines and mixing tips. These can be downloaded as a PDF here and 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.
Master Bus Processing:
While I strongly suggest you bypass any clipping or brick-wall limiting when submitting mixes for mastering, if master processing is important part of the mix or has been engaged during the mixing, it’s essential that I receive the version that the artist/engineer is most familiar with. Additional versions with master processing bypassed can also be useful.
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:
- Hard Drive/USB stick.
- CD/DVD. Data disc is preferred but CDR is acceptable.Please leave all audio at the rate it was recorded and mixed at. eg. if the session was recorded at 44.1kHz 16bit. don’t convert the file to 96kHz 24 bit for mastering.
Mastered for iTunes requires 24 bit minimum.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.Vinyl Length Per Side:
Format. Maximum Length Per Side. (minutes) Optimal Length. 7″ 33 1/3 9 7 7″ 45 6 4 10″ 33 1/3 14 9 10″ 45 11 7 12″ 33 1/3 24 22 12″ 45 15 12-14