To create a mix for mastering with proper headroom is pretty simple.
In mixing, never let your levels go over 0db on ANY of your individual instrument or vocal tracks.If you do this, 99% of the time you will be under 0 level on the stereo/main out meter, which leaves you some headroom (not necessarily +3db or more but at least +1db).Don't compress your tracks heavy and you'll have adequate dynamic range too.
That's usually all you need to do to achieve proper headroom, but there are always exceptions. If most of your tracks are hot and peaking right at 0 level, your song mix could be at 0 level with no headroom.It won't be distorted (if not recorded distorted), but you still won't be leaving the audio mastering engineer much to work with.If this is the case, after finishing your mix, link all the channels together and just pull them all down a few dbs.Now you have headroom.
Remember, loudness maximization is done in mastering not mixing. DO NOT keep raising your faders way over 0 level in an attempt to match the volume level of your favorite song.This will distort it. Yes, you matched the volume level, but now you have a scratchy distorted mess! Read more....
Here are the series of audio mastering software processors I've used on the over 30,000 songs I've mastered since 1999. In this video, I use mostly izotope ozone plugins because it's easier to explain using them. In real-life, I do mix in a few hardware pieces, and a waves plugin.
Learning and calibrating your speakers for your DAW in audio mastering is a very important step in the audio mastering process. When I first start out with NEW speakers (though I never change them now), I listen to my favorite hit songs in every genre and style.Songs that I know from my years of experience have X amount of bass, X amount of brightness, etc.I know how these songs are "supposed" to sound.
Why do songs need to be mastered? I've seen this question on the Internet many times.The answer I always see is "Because all songs on the radio have been professionally mastered, yours should be too."This is a true fact, but not an answer.
What does mastering do to a song? Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.
I had to write a quick note on this, as I was reminded about it while thumbing through a popular mixing book that had a 15 page section on speaker resonance and room sound proofing.I must say, a very exciting 15 pages!Ha!
I've mastered over 40,000 songs since 1999. I've charged $10 a song, $20, $30, $50 even $100! Some prices worked better than others. Here are a few facts to consider when deciding on what prices to charge. Read more....
I started my career using the old analog stuff, since that was the only option.I incorporated digital software plugins as soon as they became available, but it took many years before computers were fast enough to run them in realtime.And also before they started making very high quality plugins.
The vibrato and tremolo effects both have their differences. But the vibrato and tremolo effects also sound very similar; both slightly wave and pulsate the pitch of an audio track. You have to hear it for yourself to understand the sound.
I would say YES, most people can become a great mastering engineer. I say this because most of the mixes I receive from clients are pretty good and I know the audio engineer (the band member with a computer) has only minimal training.He could easily be great if he put a little more study and practice time into it.And if he had this book to teach him what took me over 17 years to learn!Ha!
Would you like to know how to master a song or how to master your own music? So many people think just making the volumes the same level for every song is "mastering" their CD. Well, mastering is a lot more than just that!
In this video I do a quick A/B comparison of a few songs. In my audio mastering secrets video series, I get a lot more in-depth into exactly what you are trying to achieve sonically for your genre/style of music.