Best Online Music Production Services Reviewed For 2023

Welcome!  On this site you will find reviews and links to the best music production services online. 

REVIEW BEST ONLINE MIXING AND MASTERING SERVICES

There are over 10,000 mixing and mastering studios online.  At least 70% are run by guys with very limited pro experience (under 300 songs mastered and under 50 songs mixed).  Many are way under these numbers in terms of experience, and their finished work shows it.

This review of the best online mixing and mastering services lists highly experienced pro audio engineers that have 15-20 years of experience and have mixed and mastered THOUSANDS of songs over that period of time, not hundreds.

Get the job done right the first time with an experienced pro audio engineer, at an affordable price!     

 

las vegas recording studio

John Rogers runs a professional online music mixing and audio mastering service located in Las Vegas, NV.  The best in 2022!  Since 1999, I (John Rogers) have provided excellent mixing and mastering services, podcast editing, and ACX audiobook editing to over 8,000 clients (that's 6-8 per week) all around the world, in all styles of music (and many languages).  From major labels to home studios, my name and work is trusted by many in the industry.  Big or small, EVERY CLIENT gets the exact same level of service.

John provides a stress and hassle free experience.  This allows you to focus on making great songs.  My studio’s professional listening environment allows me to clearly hear your tracks and mixes.  If there are any major errors, I will email you in detail how to fix them.  We work together to get great results.  You concentrate on “making” great songs, and I’ll help you make your songs “sound” great!

Audio mastering is as low as $30/song and comes with two free revisions (includes uploading a whole new mix).  Mixes are only $4/stem and come with three free revision sets.  After that they’re only $5 each.  Most clients request one free revision or none.  I offer very affordable rates with no hidden fees, and require only 1/2 down to get started.  

The combination of experience, creativity, integrity, and passion with every project means your song has the potential to be the next big hit!  I’m excited to get started with you ASAP!

I'm also the author of the top selling audio mastering book, Audio Mastering Secrets.  I know audio mastering!

 

 

john rogers online cd mastering

1. EXPERIENCE - Since 1999, I’ve provided excellent mixing and mastering services, podcast editing/mastering, and ACX audiobook editing/mastering for over 8,000 clients (that's 6-8 per week) all around the world, in all styles of music (and many languages).   From major labels to home studios, my name and work is trusted by many in the industry.  And EVERYONE gets the exact same level of service.  Period!  Check out some of my before and after mixing and mastering samples.


2. CUSTOMER SERVICE -  I provide a stress and hassle free service.   And, "I" personally do all the work on every project (no auto-preset software or an intern).  I point out major mixing errors, and give free mixing advice to correct them.  Regardless of who you work with, if your mix isn't right, your masters won't be either.  I help you get your mix right first, and we work together to get your project sounding great.    

3. THE STUDIO - Great results begin with an experienced sound engineer, but a studio loaded with top gear is also very critical.  My studio was designed to produce superior acoustic fidelity, and it’s stocked with high-end premium gear.    All cables, effects processors, my audio interface, speakers/monitors, my i7 computer and software were chosen so I can achieve the best results possible with your project.

4. EASY PAY - I require only 50% down to start your project.  You pay the balance after you approve my work.   No hidden fees or upsells.  

5. FAST & EFFICIENT - Full projects are finished quickly, within 2-5 business days.  24-hour rush service also available for $10 extra per song (mastering only).

 

My Las Vegas Recording Studio Gear

jr mastering studio gear












Great results begin with an experienced sound engineer, but a studio loaded with the best gear is also very critical.  My studio was designed to produce superior acoustic fidelity, and it’s stocked with high-end premium gear.    All cables, effects processors, my audio interface, speakers/monitors, my i7 computer and software were all chosen so the best results possible can be achieved with your project.           

Some of my analog and digital gear includes -
  • Cubase
  • SSL
  • Universal Audio
  • Eventide
  • RME
  • Manley
  • Presonus
  • Waves
  • Dynaudio
  • Yamaha
  • Sennheiser
But, realize that the best gear in the world in the hands of a sound engineer with no commercial radio experience is the same as me using Audacity and several free plugins.  Really!  If a sound engineer doesn’t have pro experience, your project might sound a little “better” but not its “very best.”

Hear for yourself, you how your project will sound when a highly experienced pro engineer using top gear works on it.  Your music deserves it!


About John Rogers

Hello!  My name is John Rogers, professional mixing and mastering engineer.  I opened my studio in 1999, right off the beautiful Las Vegas strip, NV.   I’m the only engineer here.  You work one-on-one with me, not an intern who just started mastering a few months ago. 

Since 1999, I've worked with over 8,000 satisfied clients (that's 6-8 per week) in every genre and style of music.  I’ve worked with several Billboard #1 and Top 10 artists in Europe and the United states, along with Grammy award winners and nominees, major labels, indie labels, and of course home studio projects.  Also, many EDM tracks I’ve mastered are played by DJs all around the world, and movie soundtracks that have been played in several TV shows.  I’ve also edited and mastered several audio books to ACX standards, and podcasts.  

Regardless of “client status,” I give EVERYONE from home studios to major labels the EXACT SAME professional service.  I have a lot of experience and can’t wait to bring your project to life, giving it the attention it deserves.     

I get a high percentage of first time clients new to online mixing and mastering.  I believe this is because first timers don't know what to expect, and they want to work with an experienced engineer who not only does great work, but is honest and easy to work with at an affordable price.  This is what you get when you work with me.     

I'm also the author of the best selling audio mastering book for 2021-2019 on Amazon.com, Audio Mastering Secrets. 

Mixing & mastering is my life and I have the knowledge, experience, and gear to make your project shine.  If you need a project mixed or mastered, I will treat your project as if it were my own, using all of the techniques I've learned and developed over the past 21 plus years.  I will do a great job for you!


My Song Mixing Service

Your songs are professionally mixed to commercial standards (effects added,  EQ adjusted, volumes leveled and balanced, compression, panning, etc.) based on their genre.  I do all that’s needed in the mixing process.  There’s no need to add effects to your tracks unless there’s something you know you definitely want (because it can’t be removed).  Exceptions - clients always add effects to their electric guitars.  And, adding Autotune or Melodyne to vocal tracks is also common.  There’s an extra charge for manual vocal pitch correction if you would like me to do it.

After mixing, your songs will have that commercial radio space and clarity, the vocals sitting nicely in the mix, and just the right amount of bass and brightness for your style of music.  Each segment of your song is mixed individually using a unique effect set, to keep it fresh.  No, I do not use the same one reverb for every vocal in the entire song, like most online engineers do.

Mixing is only $4/stem.  You get three adjustment/revision sets free.  After that it’s only $5 each.  90% of my clients use only 1-2 revision sets (and pay nothing extra) with only a handful of subtle changes like lower the guitars a bit, or make the vocals louder in the verses, etc.

I’m the only sound engineer at my studio, so you get personalized service.  My goal is to get your project sounding great, and we will make it happen!  I’m just as excited as you are to get your music sounding great!  Note - If you would like to get started with only one song before uploading your entire project, that’s fine.



My Audio Mastering Service

Audio mastering is the final step in the song making process, when the overall mix is adjusted so it matches the quality of a commercial industry standard song in the same genre.

After evaluating your music, I determine how much of each process is needed (if any).  If there are any major errors with your mix, I will let you know exactly how to fix them.  I personally work with you so we can get you mix sounding right first.    

Do all songs need to be mastered?  Yes.  Most of the processes done in mastering affect the song as a whole and CANNOT be done by mixing individual channels.  You can’t get your song’s overall volume level to industry standard without distorting by raising each channel’s volume level.  It doesn’t work that way.  Also, you can’t EQ, spectral enhance or brighten up the entire song doing it track by track.  This is all done in mastering.  

Audio mastering isn’t like taking a test.  If you get 1 wrong out of 12 (92%), that’s a grade “A.”  But audio mastering doesn’t work that way.  If you get ONE process very wrong, like overall volume, your song will not stand up to the competition.  You don’t get an “A” for one process wrong, you get an “F.”   The biggest issue I see with online audio masters is no compression (because the online engineer doesn’t know how to use it) and the song breaks up on loud playback. This also equals an “F.”  

People hire me to master their music because I get EVERY sonic quality right.  Grade “A.”  It’s not worth taking a chance with an inexperienced engineer who might get a few sonic qualities wrong on every one of your songs.  Let me give your songs #1 hit potential with commercial radio quality sound.

My audio mastering is as low as $30/song and comes with two free revisions (includes uploading a whole new mix).  Additional revisions are only $5 each.

Note - I personally master each song, no presets or templates.  Each song a client submits from their CD sounds different, sometimes very different.  Every song has to be mastered one by one based on its specific sonic qualities, so your CD sounds consistent from song to song.  A $10 a month auto preset website masters your songs one at a time with no knowledge of the other songs on your CD.  For this reason alone, these websites can’t create a consistent CD that flows from song to song.  That’s why you only pay $10.  Is it worth it?


Note: All emails, songs, and personal info submitted is 100% confidential.

#2. Cheap Audio Mastering - Mixing and Mastering Service

 

 

Affordable Mixing and Mastering Services

Cheap Audio Mastering Studio is a professional online mixing and mastering service located in Los Angeles. We are a U.S. online studio.  Run by professional sound engineer Brett Anderson, since 2012, we have provided high quality affordable online mixing and mastering services to over 5,000 clients all over the world, in all styles of music.  We’ve worked with many major labels down to bedroom studios.  Our goal is for EVERY client to get the same AMAZING results.

Our Los Angeles studio is loaded with top equipment and software, combined with our experience and great client communication assures you of an outstanding stress-free finished project.   We work close with every client, and if there’s a problem with your mix, we will email you details on how to correct it.  You focus on “making” great music, and we do the rest!

 

Why work with Cheap Audio Mastering?

professional sound engineer

1. I offer absolutely AMAZING prices considering you’re working with a very experienced engineer that will do a wonderful job on your project.  No presets or robots are used in the process.  Each song is mixed/mastered by me to perfection, one by one.

2. I’ve mixed and mastered over 5,000 songs since 2012 here in Los Angeles, and I have the passion and integrity to apply this experience to your project.  Unlike many online engineers who just bought their equipment and started mastering under a year ago! 

3. We work together and get your music sounding great!  It’s a total no hassle and stress free experience.

4. The prices you see online, and what you’ve read about me and my studio are all true.  Surprisingly low rates, great results, no hidden fees, no up-selling or BS.  I’m here to deliver a great project to you.  Let’s get started so you can hear for yourself. 

5. Projects are finished in 2-3 business days.  24-hour rush service also available for $15 extra per song (mastering only).
 

#2. Cheap Audio Mastering - Mixing and Mastering Service


About Me – Brett Anderson

Hi, I’m Brett Anderson, owner of Cheap Audio Mastering, located in Los Angeles, California.  Open since 2012.

I started my career in 2002 working with John Rogers at JR Mastering.  In 2012, I opened my own mixing and mastering studio in Southern California.  Since the start of my career, I’ve mastered several thousand songs in every style of music, podcasts and audio books.  I’ve worked with several Billboard chart toppers, Grammy winners and nominees. 

Be confident, that if you work with me, you’ll be working with a highly experienced sound engineer that not only pays close attention to detail but is here to answer any questions you might have, big or small.  I’m the only sound engineer at my studio, and we will work together to achieve a professional radio ready sound for your project.  That includes mixing advice to correct your mix, if needed (this applies to audio mastering clients).  

Let ME do an AMAZING job for you, at a VERY affordable price.  I’m very good at what I do, and I can’t wait to start working with you!
 

Cheap Audio Mastering Studio Gear List

Getting your project sounding its best starts with the studio.  This is why I spent so much time making it acoustically solid, and I loaded it with top of the line gear. 

All cables, effects processors, monitors, my audio interface, my i7 computer and software are world-class. 

The combination of a great studio design and premium gear gives me an amazing listening environment, and the ability to deliver commercial radio quality results.  And I will!

I use a combination analog and digital equipment which includes –

  • Pro tools
  • Manley
  • Midas
  • Motu
  • TC Electronics
  • SSL
  • UAD
  • Waves
  • Genelec
  • Yamaha
  • Waves
  • AKG

But remember, you can have the best studio and equipment ever made, but if it’s in the hands of a poor inexperienced sound engineer, the gear is completely useless.  Your project results will be garbage, regardless of the gear used.  He doesn’t know how to use it!

Let me show you the results a pro sound engineer using top studio gear can achieve with your music.  Let’s take your project to the next level this week!
 

My Song Mixing Service Process

All songs are professionally mixed (effects, EQ, panning, track levels, compression, etc) according their genre.  I do everything that needs to be done in the mixing process.  There’s no need to add effects to your tracks unless there’s an effect you 100% know you want to use (because I can’t remove it later).  Note – Electric guitar tracks are the exception.  Clients always add their favorite guitar effects.  Also, adding Autotune or Melodyne to a vocal track is also common.  I offer manual vocal pitch correction for an extra charge.

Your songs will be mixed so they have professional clarity, space, clean vocals, and proper brightness and bass for your genre.  Different effects are artistically used within each segment of your songs to keep them interesting, just like pro mixes on the radio.  I do not use one vocal effect for the entire song, like most online sound engineers do.

I charge only $4/stem for mixing and mastering is $15.  Once the mix/master is finished, just let me know of any preference adjustments like vocals a little louder, bring the synth down a bit, etc.  Note – Most clients request only one revision with a handful of adjustments.  You get three revisions sets free.  After that it’s only $5 each set.

I work with you one-on-one and we get your project sounding right.  You won’t be disappointed.  Note – If you have a large project, we can always start with only one song. 
 

My Audio Mastering Service Process

Audio mastering is the final series of effects processes that brings your mix as close as possible to a commercial radio quality song.  Of course “how close” depends on the mix you submit.  Note – If there’s a major problem with your mix, I will let you know how to fix it, so we can get the best mastering results possible.

First, I evaluate your songs.  Then I determine which processes (and how much) need to be applied to each song.  After this process, your finished masters will be as close as possible industry standard quality, ready for official release to the world!  

Based on your style of music, your songs have to be mastered so they have the proper amount of bass volume & thickness, brightness, the right amount of compression to smooth out the song (without compromising its integrity), nice stereo width, of course proper EQ and spectral enhancing for added clarity, separation and punch, and your overall volume (without distortion) has to be comparable to commercial songs within the same genre.  When someone plays your songs after hearing a commercial song, the overall volumes absolutely MUST be the same.  A few DBs too low and it will be painfully obvious to the listener that it’s an amateur project.

I charge only $15/song for audio mastering.  If you need a preference adjustment or would like to upload a new mix for mastering, you get two free.  After that it’s only $5 each.

Note – Your songs are mastered by me, one by one, no presets.  Like every song on the radio was mastered.  You can’t get the same quality by having your entire CD mastered for only $9 by an auto preset mastering site.  Each song a client submits from their CD has subtle (and sometimes big) differences.  Preset software can’t adjust from song to song and make your CD sound consistent.  That’s why it’s only $9!  Let me give your entire CD project that professional flow from song to song.  Your music deserves it!

#2. Cheap Audio Mastering - Mixing and Mastering Service




REVIEW BEST MUSIC PRODUCTION BOOKS


Review of the Best Music Production Books to take your songs and audio engineering career to the next level.

But can't you surf the web and Youtube for 3 months and find this information for free?  

You can find SOME of it, BUT -

1. There is a lot that of info you WILL NOT find anywhere.  Because they don't know it.  Most of the Youtubers and audio engineering bloggers have very little experience professionally mixing and mastering music.  Many have worked on a few hundred songs or less, and some only their own songs as a hobby.   It takes several 1,000 songs under your belt before you really become good at audio engineering, and have mastered the techniques necessary to yield pro results.  Any pro will tell you this.  You need proven techniques that have been used working with major labels and with songs on the radio.

2. WRONG INFORMATION!  I've read soooo many free tips that are 100% wrong!  And they'll ruin your music if you use them.  Audio engineering isn't guessing like making football picks, and everyone has a different pick before the game starts.  There are definite RIGHTS and WRONGS when in comes to mixing and mastering, and you need advice from someone with pro experience that gives you ONLY GOOD CORRECT RIGHT information.  This is what this book series provides!

3. Who has 3 MONTHS to sift through info and decide what's right and wrong?  Download this series of books in 10 minutes, that's 10 MINUTES, and save 3 months time.  20+ years of pro audio engineering experience available in minutes.


 

The #1 Best Selling Audio Mastering Book for 2021 and 2020!

If you're into audio engineering, this is a great music production book to add to your home recording studio collection. Packed with step-by-step proven methods.

Audio Mastering Secrets is the first audio mastering books that focuses entirely on how to master audio to radio quality standards, all from the comfort of your home recording studio. No expensive gear required to get amazing results!

Written by John Rogers of JR Mastering, this guide outlines (step-by-step) the techniques John has used to professionally master songs for over 8,000 clients, since 1999 (that’s 6-8 per week).

Whether you need to know how master songs in fl studio, pro tools, audacity, garageband, cubase, logic or abeleton the information provided applies to all of these programs.

 

Audio Mastering Secrets notes:

This Book Is A 7 x 9 Learning Guide (192 pages)
It focuses on how to master audio, how to become a great audio mastering engineer, and how not to be a bad one.

I do not get into the specific brands of gear you should buy, the history of sound engineering, or 1,000's of compressor settings (of which maybe 40 you'll ever use). In this book I focus on mastering audio!

Common Mastering Problems And Their Solutions
In audio mastering, you will face common problems like a mix being too thin, tinny, distorted, over-saturated, muddy, or not bright enough. Sometimes you can't get the song loud enough, boomy enough, no separation, too much bass, no sparkle, and many other problems. I explain in detail which effects processors to use and their exact settings to solve these common problems. This is a great tool to refer back to when needed.

My Step-By-Step Audio Mastering Session
You will learn the 18 steps I take in the audio mastering process. From importing your file, down to loudness maximization and finally exporting a perfectly mastered song!

This Entire Book Is Based On Real-World Experiences
Not on theory, what I learned in school, or what I heard from some other engineer. I teach from real world experiences with satisfied clients.

Mastering Different Genres
Here s where I break down the sonic qualities of sixteen different genres. How much brightness, bass, boominess, compression, etc., you re trying to achieve for each genre. And several tips on what clients are looking for.

My Audio Mastering Laws
In this section, I cover a series of dos, do nots, and facts that basically apply to all audio mastering jobs regardless of genre. I also cover several pitfalls you will experience (just like I did) as an audio mastering engineer, and how to get through them.

Setting Up You're Listening Environment
In this section I cover calibrating your speakers, learning your speakers, speaker placement and room size. And, the myth about soundproofing your room.

The Effects Processors Used In Audio Mastering
The basics of what they all do, how to use them, when to use them, and my initial settings templates.

This Book Is A Very Easy Read
I left out all the high-tech jargon and rarely used words that slow down sentence flow.

And Much More!

In a matters of weeks, you can learn all of the audio mastering secrets, tips, and techniques that took me over 19 years to learn!




This book is the sequel to my first book, "Audio Mastering Secrets" the best selling audio mastering book for 2021 and 2020!

If you're into audio engineering, this is a great music production book to add to your home recording studio collection. Packed with step-by-step proven methods.

Since 1999, I've worked with over 8,000 clients (that's 6-8 per week) in every genre imaginable. Working with this many clients gave me the rare opportunity to discover what areas most sound engineers are having problems with.

Most of the mixes clients submit are pretty good. The sound engineer definitely does not need to read a 400 page book on basic mixing techniques, or take a six week mixing course. They're way beyond that.

What they do need is a book that points out the most common mixing errors that most sound engineers make, so they can check their mixes for them. Problems they don't even realize their mixes suffer from. That's what "Song Mixing Secrets" is all about!
 

I Show You How To Quickly Fix These Common Problems -

  • Mix is too crowded, no space or clarity
  • Vocals can't cut through the mix
  • Inconsistent levels from section to section
  • Mix is too bassy, muddy
  • Mix is too bright, tinny, thin
  • Stereo field is weak (your song is really mono)
  • And More!!

This book is for someone who has a good understanding of basic mixing procedures. Sometimes as a solution to a problem, I might suggest compressing the lead vocal a bit. But, I don't get into detailed threshold and ratio settings. I assume you already know how to compress a vocal track.

I wrote this entire book in simple plain English (layman's terms). I eliminated all the words you never heard of and hi-tech jargon, so anyone at any level can understand and learn from this book.

You've invested hundreds, if not thousands, of hours into your music.
If you're serious about it, now's the time to make a very small financial investment in this book so your music will sound the very best it can!

I wrote this book so you can quickly learn (in a matter of days) the techniques, tips, and secrets that took me over 20 years to learn.

 

This is the 3rd book in the best selling Music Production Secrets Series by John Rogers.

Now that it’s extremely affordable, hundreds of thousands of music enthusiasts around the world have created their own DAW home recording studio.

Many have turned their passion into a career, or they’re earning a lot of money with their home recording studio as a side job.

In this book, I explain everything I did as a sound engineer to earn $100,000 a year online, working from my home studio. Note- This ebook will be a little more than 60 pages of valuable info.

I discuss working with customers which includes tips on how to beat the competition, the marketing techniques I used that brought in a huge amount of free traffic, and many business dos and donts I learned since opening my recording studio in 1999.

I also mention several things YOU might want to try with your business that I know absolutely WILL NOT work, which will save you a lot of time and money.

Whether you’re starting out from scratch or already running your own recording studio business, this book will help you increase your profits.



 

REVIEW BEST AUDIO MASTERING ONLINE TUTORIAL VIDEO



Learn Audio Mastering The Easy Way!
Pro Audio Engineer John Rogers explains step-by-step how to master audio to radio quality standards.   

5 HOUR VIDEO COURSE - LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP
(This course took over 6 months to create)

You can watch it on your phone, tablet, desktop, all devices!
Learn at your own pace.  Proven successful quick techniques.

 
Step by Step Sessions
(10 songs - Over 2.5 hours)
This section shows step by step live mastering sessions of 10 songs.  

Includes - 3 Rap/Hip Hop, 1 Hard Rock, 1 80s Rock, 1 Pop Alternative, 1 Santana-ish, 1 Pop Dance, 1 EDM, and 1 Chill EDM.
 
         

You'll see the methods I use in audio mastering are very consistent (proven successful) steps that you can quickly learn and use to greatly improve your Audio Masters INSTANTLY TODAY!

I also include "pop up" bonus tips and advice, while going through my step progressions. 

 

1. Audio Master Laws, Tips, and Advice (46:36)
These are several videos that fill in the missing pieces.  Tips, advice and absolute LAWS that you cannot break.  Break a few of these laws, and I will guarantee your CD project will be a disaster.  46 minutes of strong advice to improve your masters right now!

2. The Processors Used In Audio Mastering (14:11)
You will learn the types of processors I used to professionally master over 30,000 songs the past 23 years.

3. The 4 Bands In Audio Mastering (9:32)
In audio mastering, we work in Bands.  Here's a quick overview.

4. Analyzing A .Wav File Before Mastering (11:58)
This is the first step in audio mastering (after importing the song).

5. How To Correctly Set Your Song Volumes (8:10)
How loud are your songs supposed to be?  Are your songs industry standard volume?  All these questions and more are answered in this quick 8 min video.  And it's not a LUFS meter!

6. Compression Made Easy (19:49)
I've received over 1,000 client mastering demos, and masters from other studios (some charging $100 a song).  75% of what I heard, they have NO CLUE how to compress a song.  Play the song loud and it breaks up into pieces!  Unlike songs you hear on the radio.  In this video I explain what compression is, your goals, how to use a mastering compressor, everything you need to know about compression in audio mastering is in this 20 min video!

7. Understanding Equalization And Spectral Enhancement (27:05)
What's the difference between EQ and spectral enhancement?  Why do you use them, when do you use them, what are your goals?  Almost a half hour of priceless information you want find anywhere else.
 

Since the release of this video series in 2020, over 5,000 satisfied members have quickly learned how to professionally master their audio.  When the course was first released, many paid $250!  Then $150.  Would you pay $99 for this course today?  KEEP READING FOR MY SPECIAL OFFER!

 


Visit the Main Website and OFFER Page (then Scroll to the Bottom)






 

If you're into "do it yourself projects" my mastering book will show you EXACTLY how I mastered every style of music on this website.  Get it here Audio Mastering Secrets!

17 Common Mixing Mistakes You MUST Avoid!

Since 1999, I’ve worked with over 8,000 clients and below are the mixing problems I see most often.  I’m not going to get into advanced mixing techniques in this article, but I will mention a few basic solutions for the most common mixing mistakes I see daily (in no specific order), which will ultimately make your mixes and masters sound great!  For more details checkout out Song Mixing Secrets for detailed info.
 

Mixing Mistake #1 – WRONG FILE TYPE!

What To Submit – .WAV File – 44.1 or 48khz / 16-32bit (preferably 24bit) OR .Aiff file
No one wants (or needs) to work with a HUGE 1GB 96khz file.  Don’t send your mastering engineer a 12GB album!  It’s overkill since CDs are 44.1khz, and mp3s are even lower quality.  One exceptionYou’re working with Mastering for Itunes.


Mixing Mistake #2 – Plug-Ins On The Stereo/Main Out

If your songs are going to be mastered, NOTHING should be on your stereo/ main out.  No limiter, no loudness maximizer, no EQ, no spectral enhancer.  This is my job in the audio mastering process. I set everything where it needs to be based on your style of music. Then you tell me if you prefer a little more a less of something, and I’ll adjust as necessary.   
I don’t want a partially mastered song.  Most of the time when a client tries to do this, they go way over on several sonic qualities, and I cannot correct these mistakes. 


Mixing Mistake #3 – The Songs Peak Too High, Are Distorted, Not Enough Headroom

mastering headroom distorted track


How much headroom should you leave in your mix?

 Here’s the correct amount of headroom you should leave, using detailed graphic examples.

Note – It doesn’t matter what DAW software you use FL Studio, Pro Tools, Logic, Reason, Cubase, Sonar or Ableton, the headroom examples and instructions apply to all of them.
 

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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.  This is considered +3db to +5db of headroom.  This is the ideal amount of headroom for you should leave for mastering.


How To Create Headroom Before Mastering In Your Mixes

In your mix, never let your levels go over 0db on the main/stereo out meter, OR on ANY of your individual instrument or vocal tracks.

Note – For the record, at times you can peak at 0 level or slightly over if its quick hits like a drum, hi-hat, etc. and they don’t distort.  But again, there’s still no reason to go over-level.

Remember, loudness maximization is done in mastering NOT mixing.  DO NOT keep raising your faders way over zero level, totally distorting everything, to match the volume level of your favorite song.  Yes, you matched the volume level, but now you have a scratchy distorted mess!

If your mixes are going to be mastered by someone else, the mastering engineer prefers a lower level, more dull sounding mix that he or she can bring up to where it should be.  NOT an over-level scratchy distorted super bright mix.  NO ONE can do anything with this!  It’s a trainwreck!

Sometimes I receive songs that correctly have +3db of headroom, but the vocals or certain instruments are still distorted.  This is because the “individual tracks” were mixed over-level.  Nothing should ever go over 0db on any channel of your entire mix!

I get so many over-level submissions, I’ve decided to show graphics of how your .wav or.aiff files should look.  These are your ideal mastering levels in dbs.

how much headroom example 1

1. This .wav file peaks at -6db. This .wav has too much headroom before mastering.  But, I can still work with this by just gaining it +3-4dbs.

 

how much headroom example 2

2. This .wav file peaks at -3db. This is the ideal amount of headroom before mastering.

 

how much headroom example 3

3. 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. I can work with this.

 

how much headroom example 4

4. 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.  Loudness is increased in mastering.  Do not submit a file that looks like this.

 

how much headroom example 5

5. 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.

I can’t do anything with this! No one can!!

 

how much headroom example 6

6. 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.

I 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.


DYNAMIC RANGE 

As a song plays, the output meter constantly goes up and down. 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 average, but this does depend on the genre of music.

With a heavily compressed/limited or over-level mix, the meter will not go up and down more than 1db, if any.  Not good. 

The reason I need dynamic range and headroom in mixes is because compressed/limited or over-level mixes already have music content removed from them, which greatly limits what I can do in mastering.

“Leaving no dynamic range is 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 could do.  10 inches and the sky’s the limit!”


Mixing Mistake #4 – Mix Needs To Sound Fuller, Mix Sounds Too Thin

There are four thing that make a mix sound fuller.
A. The LOW bass and UPPER-MIDS must have the proper thickness/boominess.
B. The vocal and instrumentation amounts have to be sufficient for the arrangement.
C. Don’t roll of too much bass from your mid-frequency tracks.  I get in a lot of songs where the lead vocal and lead guitars (or synths) are all high bass filtered around 500hz which leaves you with a thin tinny sound.
D. You tracks are properly panned across the stereo spectrum.  If you have 4 guitars all panned dead center, it’s going to sound like you have ONE loud mono guitar, which is not a full thick guitar sound.
E. I explain this all in great detail in Song Mixing Secrets.


Mixing Mistake #5 – Bass Too Loud In Mix, Mix Sounds Muddy Or Too Boomy

35% of the hip hop songs I get in are very bass heavy, they go over 0 level, and are usually distorted too. The big bass you’re looking for is adjusted in the mastering process, along with a boost in overall song volume level.  Yes, all songs have bass in them, just don’t go WAY too far for your genre. 
 
Mixes that sound dull are actually GOOD for mastering! As a mastering engineer, it’s easy to make a dull song brighter and a set it exactly right where it should be.  But a super bright song that requires a big EQ cut, many times will leave you with a flat lifeless master that has no sparkle.


Mixing Mistake #6 – Mix Sounds Bad On Car Stereo, Weak Stereo Field

mix sounds bad in car

The car is the ultimate judge of the stereo field.  If you didn’t do a good job with it, your song will sound like its a foot wide, playing right above the stereo.   Not a full wide sound that blasts out from the left door all the way across to the right door.

Most amateur mixing engineers think stereo reverb is the solution to a mix with a weak stereo field.  WRONG!  If you pan everything centrally, and then put stereo reverb on it, all you’ll have is a weak reverb echo on the outside of the stereo field while the meat of the song is all up the middle.

Yes, you can use delays that bounce to the outsides, the Haas effect is great to, BUT the simple rule I learned many years ago and follow is this.

If you want to be able to hear something on the outsides of the stereo field, YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING PANNED THERE!!

I explain this all in great detail in Song Mixing Secrets.
 


Mixing Mistake #7 – Boomy Vocals In Mix

Problem – The vocals are too boomy and interfere with the kick and bass clarity.
Solution – Roll off the bass in your vocals. Use a high pass filter on your vocal track anywhere from 150hz-300hz. Move around in that range to see what sounds best.  Unless you’re singing like Barry White, you don’t need that low frequency in your vocal track.


Mixing Mistake #8 – Vocals Not Loud Enough In Mix

I would say 50% of the rock songs I get in, the vocal volume is just too low.  Maybe 25% when it comes to hip hop.
This is a common technique in rock music since many times the singer is poor and tries to hide his vocals under the music.  But, If I can’t understand HALF of what you are singing, this is a WRONG mixing technique! 
You don’t know how many times I’ve pointed out this error to a client, telling them I honestly can’t understand HALF the vocals in the song.  I couldn’t even guess them.  And they reply, “Oh, that’s ok.  We want the listener to have figure out some of the vocals?”  REALLY?  I can see a few words, but how many songs on the radio have you heard where half tof he vocals are impossible to understand?  The answer is – NEVER!  This isn’t a word puzzle, it’s a song!
Probably the worst song I’ve ever heard on the radio, maybe 5% of the words were tough to understand.  And many times that was because of a phrasing irregularity, not because the vocal volume level was -5dbs too low.

When your done with a your songs, ask a friend if they can unsderstand the words and have them repeat them back to you.  See if they get them right!


Mixing Mistake #9 – Vocals With Sharp Ssss Sound

If the Sss sounds in your vocals is the least bit sharp before mastering, it will be unbearable after mastering.  Crank up your mix loud and apply a De-esser to your vocal track if needed.
Note – The good thing about a de-esser is it’s pretty much non-destructive.  If you were to use it moderately on a vocal track and the track really didn’t need it, it won’t affect it much because there’s no Ssss problem to be corrected.


Mixing Mistake #10 – Mix Sounds Too Harsh, Very Bright Mix Or Tinny Mix

mix sound very harsh
Roughly 25% of the mixes I get in, the client cranks up the high-end EQ or overuses a spectral enhancer, thinking they’re getting that clear professional radio quality sound. This mix will never make a great master because it’s already much brighter than it needs to be.
When I have to cut a lot of high-end EQ, the song loses its sparkle and clarity. It also prevents me from using frequency phase correcting tools. I’m not saying you shouldn’t EQ your mixes at all, just remember a slightly dull mix can be turned into a great master, but an overly bright one can’t. 
Listen to your mix.  If you think your mix is too bright, it probably is.
 


Mixing Mistake #11 – Tracks Not Ready For Mastering

Tracks not synced, fades, which effects to use, how much compression, etc. is covered on this page –
 


Mixing Mistake #12 – Using A Bad Mixing or Mastering Engineer

I had to throw this in here.  Lol!  Too many artists, for whatever reason, choose a mixing or mastering engineer that is either inexperienced, or is pretty much workingin at a big corporate studio.  Go with an engineer that has worked with over 8,000 clients, treats your music like it’s his own, and delivers fast amazing results. I’ll do an amazing job for you!


Mixing Mistake #13 – Mixes Not Checked At High Volume Levels

During audio mastering, most (if not all) songs are going to be volume boosted to some extent.  This magnifies whatever is in your mix.
Many times a client sends me a song mix that’s very low level, maybe -8dbs to -12dbs headroom.  This song will have to be heavily boosted.  Once I boost it, there could be obvious errors that stick out.  Many times the mix is shrill.  But the mixer doesn’t know this.
Why is this so common?  Since the song was mixed and monitored at such a low volume level, the sound engineer can’t tell what it will sound like when turned up much louder.  They’re missing how the mix really sounds.

Solution – Crank up your system volume output loud to hear how your mix sounds, and then adjust your mix as needed.  Not for hours.  Just a 1-2 minute 100db check.  If it’s unbearable bright or has super bass that runs over the entire song, you have to correct this.

And I repeat, If you think your mix is too bright, it probably is. 

1closespeaker
Speakers are way too close.  This guy can’t possibly crank this up to 100dbs and make adjustments, at the same time.

 
1farspeaker

This is better.  The top speakers are 5 feet away.  Also, the engineer can roll back a bit and take in the entire stereo spectrum of the mix.  This is why you NEVER see top a level sound engineer with engineering with the setup above.


Mixing Mistake #14- Noisy Tracks Or Noisy Song Mix

Problem – There’s a constant low-end hum or high-end hiss on an instrument track. This track noise eats up space, slightly clouding up the entire song.
Solution – Listen through your entire song for noise. Sometimes the cause is a mic being boosted to loud during recording or an instrument gained or boosted to high. Find your noisy tracks and either eliminate them, or EQ high or low pass filter them.  Or use a noise gate.
Noise/hiss is easily noticed at the beginning and sometimes at the end of songs when instrumentation is low (or has ended). It’s not as noticeable when the meat of the song is playing.  But that noise is always present and is slightly clouding up your entire song.


Mixing Mistake #15 – Kick Drum And Bass Guitar Are On Top Of Each Other In The Same Frequency Range

Problem – Both the bass guitar and kick drum are in the same low-frequency range (50hz-75hz). They’re washing (phase canceling) each other out and one (usually the kick) can’t be heard very clearly.
Solution – When you initially arrange your songs, you have to decide which instrument will be in the low-frequency 50-75hz range (usually the kick) and which will be in the mid-low 100hz-250hz (usually the bass). If the kick is low, then the bass needs to be mid-low (and vice versa) not both in the same frequency range. This is just the basics, but crucial.
Note – This is more of an “arrangement” problem than it is a “mixing” problem. You have to select the right instruments in the correct frequency ranges in the first place.

 


Mixing Mistake #16 – High/Sharp Instrument Becoming An Annoyance

When mixing, remember that after I master your songs, they’ll be a lot louder and clearer. There’s no need to make higher frequency instruments (synth, violin, chimes, etc.) real loud.  These bright instruments don’t compete with too much in the mix, so they have no problem cutting through.  Many times the sound engineer doesn’t factor this in and mixes them in too loud.
Remember, if these instruments are still too bright after mastering, you can upload a new adjusted mix and I’ll swap it out at no extra charge.
Solution – If the Sss sounds in your vocals is the least bit sharp before mastering, it will be unbearable after mastering. Apply a De-esser to your vocal track if needed.


Mixing Mistake #17 – Properly MASTERING Your Song

If you’ve made it this far, you pretty much know how to MIX your songs properly.  Now you need to know how to MASTER your own music properly.  It’s not all about mixing.  EVERY song EVER on the radio has been mastered.  Has yours been?   Here I explain everything you need to know in Audio Mastering Secrets.

Music Resources & Clients

FREE Mastering Service
Free mastering from JR Mastering.

How To Master A Song Video
Episode #1 Audio Mastering Secrets series.

Free Music Production Videos
Free Audio Mastering Secrets video series.

Music Production Blog
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Best Audio Mastering Book
The best book to learn professional audio mastering.

Best Hip Hop & Rap Engineer Mixing and Mastering Services
Looking for the best Hip Hop & Rap engineers this is the place!

Best ROCK Engineer Mixing and Mastering Services
Looking for the best Rock engineers this is the place!

Review Sage Audio
Review of Cheap Audio Mastering vs Sage Audio.

The Christian Boys
Group I worked with in 2010.

Opportunity Junkies
Business resource for music, marketing, retail.





 

 

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