State Of The Art Equipment

State Of The Art Equipment

John Rogers Uses The Best Equipment In The Business, Which Includes Manley, SSL, Eventide, Waves, Etc....

1,000's Of Satisfied Clients

1,000's Of Satisfied Clients

John Works With Over 2,000 Clients, Every Year Since 1999!  Clients From All Around The World, In Every Style Of Music.  B.L.S.S. Is One The Best CD Mastering Companies In The World!...

Located In Las Vegas!

Located In Las Vegas!

Located In The "New" Entertainment Capital Of The World, Fabulous Las Vegas!  We Offer The Best Music Mastering Services Online....

How Much Headroom For Mastering Should I Leave?

Rate this item
(4 votes)
This is the single biggest problem we see with mixes submitted for mastering.
There are two factors to consider when exporting your final mix for mastering:
 
A. Peak level - The absolute highest level the output signal reaches.
B. Dynamic range - The range between the highest level and the lowest level of the output signal.
 
PEAK LEVEL
The loudest part of your song (peak level) should be around -3db to -5db (below 0 level). 
 
In you mix, never let your levels go over 0db on the stereo out (main out) meter, AND never go over 0db on any of your individual instrument tracks or vocal tracks.  Remember, loudness maximization is done in mastering, so there's really no benefit to go over-level.  Note - For the record, at times you can peak at 0 level or slightly over if the peaking parts are quick hits like a drum, hi hat, etc. and they don't distort.  But again, there's no reason to go over-level.
 
Sometimes we receive songs that correctly peak under 0db, but the vocals or certain instruments are distorted because the "individual tracks" were mixed over-level.  Nothing should ever go over 0db on any channel of your entire mix.
 
We get so many over-level submissions, I've decided to show graphics of how your .wav or.aiff files should look.


wav1
This .wav file peaks at -6db. A little low but just fine. We can work with this.
 
 
wav2
 This .wav file peaks at -3db. This is great.

 
wav3
This .wav file peaks at 0db, but is fine because there are no distorted flat
spots in the wave. The high hats are hitting at 0db and everything else
drops down, leaving good dynamic range. We can work with this.
 
 
wav4
This .wav is +3db over level. All the flat spots you see are distortion. You can't
just jack up your levels past 0 and distort everything to make your song louder.
Do not submit a file that looks like this.

 
wav5
Once a week, we get at least one file that looks like this! Let's call this the
"trainwreck file." +6db over level and totally distorted from beginning to end.
We can't do anything with this. No one can!
 
 
wav6
This is an interesting file. We get this quite often too. It's the "train-wreck file"
we mentioned above, gained down -9db. It's completely distorted, but its -3db under 0 level.

A file where the mixer channels are over 0 level, but the main stereo out
is -6db, would look exactly the same.

We can't use this either. Once your song is distorted and over level, you
can't just gain it down. All you're doing is making a distorted file quieter.
You have to be under 0 level on the stereo out, and on all the mixer board
channels when exporting the original .wav file.
 
Unfortunately, many times the recording studio gives you the "train-wreck" file
and you're stuck with it.  Gaining it down yourself does nothing.
 
DYNAMIC RANGE
As a song plays, the output meter constantly goes up and down. Headroom (dynamic range) is the area between the peak level (when the meter is up) and the low level (when the meter is down). Roughly, 3db to 5db of movement between the high and low meter level is good, but this depends on the genre of music. With a compressed/limited or over-level mix, the meter will not go up and down more than 1db, if any.
 
The reason we need headroom is because compressed/limited or over-level mixes already have music content removed from them, which greatly limits what we can do in mastering.
 
It's comparable to a woman who goes to a hair stylist with only 3 inches of hair. The stylist would be “very” limited with what she can do!  12 inches, the sky's the limit!
 

We offer professional mixing and mastering here at Big Label Sound Mastering Studio.  High quality work at an affordable price!  You can also receive a FREE Mastering Demo, with no obligation.

 

READ THIS! BEFORE GETTING MASTERING ANYWHERE!

 

Testimonials 2

  • Hello John, it sounds absolutely amazing. thank you. please send me the final version.
    Pavol Podohrec

  • They sound great! Any next project I need mastered I'll definitely come your way as well as recommend you to others. Thanks once again for all the help.
    Greg Hughes

  • Sounds exactly as i wished, great job. More than happy for you to use track on your website and my sincerest thanks for your professionalism and attention to detail. Look forward to working with you on what i hope will be a successful project. All the very best.
    Jez

  • Excellent job, John, just made the payment. You pulled it out the bag again, thank you so much.
    Phil Follett

  • HEY. I JUST CHECKED THE SAMPLE OF THE SONG (CATCH WRECK) THAT YOU MASTERED AND IT IS OUTSTANDING! EVERYTHING IS GREAT. I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE FULL VERSION. I DEFINITELY WILL BE COMING BACK TO YOU FOR THE REST OF THE PROJECT. I'VE BEEN ELSEWHERE AND THEY CAN'T COMPARE. THANK YOU.
    John S.

  • Hey I just checked the work with my headphones and man it's there already! I compared it to the original versions and oh yea it sounds ten times better now man!!~!! Thank you so much!!~!! I'm definitely gonna let you master my whole album. Thanx John
    Freddy M

  • i have received the mastered clip i'm so happy with it, i cant wait to get the complete one. i'm ready to pay now.. i could not sleep last night, i couldn't wait for it.
    Sean Stewart

  • Wow, huge difference!!! U definitely made it sound big. I like it and I'm sure the artist will too. I'm paying now!!!
    Steve Potter

  • I very much dig the sound. You've been so helpful and forthcoming during this process. I look forward to working with you in the future.
    Brilliant Pop Records