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set mixing level meters

Correctly setting your mixing levels before mastering is essential for great mastering results.  Having the best DB levels for mixing is critical.  Here's how to properly do it!

 

Note - It doesn't matter what DAW software you use FL Studio, Pro Tools, Logic, Reason, Cubase, Sonar or Ableton, my setting mixing levels examples and instructions apply to all of them.
 

VIDEO - Setting Your Mixing Levels Before Mastering

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How To Set Mixing Levels

Each channel on your mixer board has a level meter for the individual vocal and instrument tracks you've recorded.  You also have a main/stereo out that has a level meter for ALL the tracks combined. The mixing levels for each instrument should NEVER go over 0 level, and your mixing levels on your main/stereo out should never go over 0 level. 

There's really no need to because overall volume boosts are done in mastering NOT mixing!  And, most of the time going over-level means instant distortion on the track.

The photos below are level meters from two different guitar track.  Guitar Track 1 peaks a few dbs under 0 level and is great.  Guitar Track 2 is several dbs OVER 0 level and will badly distort. 

The fix - Simply pull down the fader on Guitar track 2 a few dbs so it's no longer over-level!!  This is VERY basic stuff here, but you'd be surprised how many sound engineers out there don't know this!

 

Guitar Track 1

Guitar Track 2

 

            over-level1             

       

             over-level2              

 Under 0 Level  WAY Over-Level!!

 

What If You Need To Make A Track Louder, But Can't Without Going Over-Level?

This is a VERY common problem with sound engineers who are new to mixing.  They need to make one track louder to cut through the mixing, but in doing so, it goes way over-level. 

Here's the simple solution!

  • Highlight ALL the tracks in your mix and link them all together.
  • Then pull down the faders (roughly -5db) on ALL of the tracks in the entire song. 
  • Now unlink them. 

Every track is now at least -5db below 0 level, if not more.  Now you can start raising the volume on the tracks that need it. 

Note:  If you run into this exact same problem again, you can keep repeating this process until you have a nice track to track volume balance.

 

How To Set Mixing Levels And Know They're Good For Mastering

Usually, if you don't go over-level on any of your individual mixer board channels you automatically won't go over-level on your main/stereo out.  And your levels will be perfect for mastering, leaving enough headroom.  BUT, if the main/stereo out meter is over-level and you didn't go over-level on any of the individual channels, simply pull the fader down a few dbs until it isn't.

"Overall volume level is adjusted in MASTERING, not in MIXING.  Your job in mixing is to stay under 0 level on all of your meters. Don't crank up your faders and distort everything, trying to get as loud as the songs on the radio!  It doesn't work that way!"

 

And Of Course, If You Want Your Songs To Sound AMAZING!
Check out my low Online Mastering Prices.  Incredible results at an affordable price!

 

So How Should My .Wav Files Look If I Have Correctly Set My Mixing Levels Before Mastering?

Export your mix, and then import it back into your DAW program so you can see how your .wav file looks. 

The examples below show how your .wav files should (and shouldn't) look.  If yours looks like photo Wav 5 or Wav 6, don't even waste your time and upload it!  The song basically cannot be mastered.  Start reading this article from the top and adjust your levels!

 

Wav 1.

This file is -6db under 0 level.  A little low, but I can work with this in mastering.

 wav1

 

Wav 2.
This file is -3db under 0 level.  The is "industry standard," what mastering engineers request.

This is the ideal amount of headroom for mastering.

wav2

 

Wav 3.

This file peaks at exactly 0db.  It doesn't go over-level and there are no flat spots.  Still good!

wav3

 

Wav 4.
This file is +3db over 0 level.  All the flat spots are distortion.  I can master this and it will

sound much "better" but in most cases it won't sound "great!"  Lower your levels!

 wav4

 

Wav 5.

This file is +6db over-level!  Completely distorted from beginning to end!

I can't do ANYTHING with this file!  NO ONE CAN!!  Remix this MUCH LOWER!

wav5

 

Wav 6.
This is an interesting file.  It's completely distorted with no dynamic range, but its
still -3db on the main/stereo out.

.wav6

 

The mixer either:

A. Had something similar to Wav 5 above and just gained the file down -9db.
B. Some or all of the individual mixer channels are over-level, and the master/stereo out fader was
pulled down -9db.

 

Either way, this can't be mastered with good results.  Once your song is over-level and distorted you can't just lower the volume of the entire song.   You're just making the distortion quieter, not less intense.

For example - This would be like having a sweater with a huge hole, and then washing it in real hot water to try and shrink it.  Yes, you effectively made the hole smaller because now the entire sweater is smaller.  BUT, you still have an unusable sweater with a big hole in it!!  You didn't solve the problem!

 

Properly setting your mixing levels before mastering is a very important part of the mixing process.  I hope this article explained it for you!

 

If you've made it this far, you pretty much know how to set you mixing levels properly.  Now you need to know how to MASTER your own music properly.

best online mastering course
Hello, my name is John Rogers owner of JR mastering and author of the current #1 Best Selling Audio Mastering Book on Amazon.com which is now available in a video course!  Since 1999, I've mastered over 40,000 songs for over 7,500 clients.  I've mastered music for grammy award winners, several songs I mastered charted #1 and top 10 in Europe, and my masters have been played by DJs in many major cities all over the world. 
 

Why am I telling you this?  Because I know audio mastering, and I would like to teach you everything I've learned since 1999, in only 5 hours!  Less if you want to know about only your genre.  It's not a $20,000 two year class, or a $3,500 6 month course (a total waste of money), I will teach you everything you need to know in audio mastering in only 5 hours!  This course and the PDFs took me over 1.5 years to create.  This is some serious stuff!

 



Also, a few clients only watch the Step by Step Mastering Session videos and found that was all they needed.
(though I recommend you should watch/read the entire course).

1. Audio Master Laws, Tips, and Advice (46:36)
Several videos that fill in the missing pieces that are not in other parts of the course.  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.  45 minutes of strong advice.

2. The Processors Used In Audio Mastering (14:11)
The types of processors I used to master over 40,000 songs.

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 do I get all my songs the same volume?  How loud is my song supposed to be?  Is my song too loud?  All these questions are answered in this quick 8 min video.

6. Compression Made Easy (19:49)
I've listen to over 1,000 clients attempts at mastering, and masters from other studios (some charging $100 a song).  75% of what I heard, they have NO CLUE how to compress a song.  Usually, they don't apply any compression at all (they just make the song louder and call that mastering) and the song breaks up miserably when played back loud.  Or the extreme, they compress it to death and it has no dynamic range and it's distorted.

In this video I explain what compression is, your goals, how to use compressors, everything you need to know about compression in audio mastering is in this 20 min video!

7. Understanding Equalization And Spectral Enhancement (27:05)
Which processors are used for EQ?  Most people don't know a compressor is one of them.  When do you use them, what are your goals, what's the difference between EQ and spectral enhancement?  Almost a half hour of priceless information you want find anywhere else.

8. Step by Step Mastering Sessions (10 songs) (Over 3 hours)
My step by step mastering session videos show live mastering sessions of 10 songs.  
1 Hard Rock, 1 80s Rock, 1 Pop Alternative, 1 Santana-ish, 1 Pop Dance, 1 EDM, 1 Chill EDM, and 3 Rap/Hip Hop.

You'll see the methods I use when mastering are very consistent steps that you can quickly pick up and learn.

I also include bonus tips and advice while going through my step progression.  This video brings everything together, when you can actually see me doing what I've talked about earlier, and what you've read in the PDFs or in my book.


You Can Quickly Become An Audio Mastering Expert
I've worked with sooooo many clients and studios.  I've heard their mastering attempts.  I've read 1,000 blog posts and watched 100 hours of free youtube video made by guys with "very little" commercial mastering experience or they're a kid living in their mom's basement (usually both). 

That all being said, if you read my PDFs (why not buy the full book too) and watch all of my videos, I can just about guarantee you will be better than 75% of the audio mastering engineers online!  This includes some from major recording studios.  I know this because I've heard their masters and 75% are clueless in several major areas, and you will know more than them.

Now, I can't exactly "guarantee" results.  That's like someone selling exercise videos and guaranteeing you will lose weight.  Yes, if you do the program, guaranteed you will.  But if you never turn the video on, the weight loss program won't work for you.  Same thing here.


MASTERING ISN'T A TEST!
Too many people think, oh well I got some advice from this kid, and three other guys, now I'm going to master the CD that took me A YEAR to write and record.  Really?  Here's why this doesn't work.

I'll be generous.  20% of the information from engineers who have never done anything (other than work on their own stuff) is absolutely WRONG.  Sometimes even the opposite.  They make up these odd ball theories based on nothing.  I've even had a few hip hop engineers make mastering decisions based on what their grandma told them about their songs.  I'm not joking here, they told me their grandma said the bass was too low, so they cranked it above distortion.

Well, so what if you get a few processes wrong?  You'll get 80% of your CD mastering right.  That's a grade B, right?  WRONG!  It's an "F."

If you get your loudness wrong, you get an "F."  If you get your compression wrong, you get an "F."  Maybe you don't know how to increase clarity, set your bass levels, get all your songs the same level, all "F."

You could get ONE critical area wrong, and be 90% right with the rest, and your CD will be a JOKE when played against commercial songs, at the club, even your family and friends will laugh at you after leave. Ha!

Let me give you information that is 100% correct!  Based on the over 40,000 songs I've mastered that have actually been played on the radio, and in clubs around the world.

Get an "A+" on all of your projects!  Why not?  Isn't you music career worth this small investment?

 

You get 20 pages of PDFs from my current #1 Best Selling Audio Mastering Book on Amazon.com.  From setting up your listening environment, my graph of solutions to common problems, how to master different genres, to how to correctly set your song volumes, this course is packed with valuable information.  You can spend 100 hours on youtube looking for free videos and half the information in my course, you'll never find it anywhere!  And, even better, you won't get any "wrong" information from my course either, that will ruin your project.  

 

So, how much is my course?  

$2,500

$1,000

$500

Only $68 for the entire course lifetime subscription

Includes my step by step mastering session videos of live mastering sessions of 10 songs.  
1 Hard Rock, 3 Rap/Hip Hop songs, 1 EDM, 1 Chill EDM, 1 Pop Dance, 1 80s Rock, 1 Pop Alternative, and 1 Santana-ish.

You'll see the methods I use when mastering are very consistent steps that you can quickly pick up and learn.

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Note - The audio mastering secrets courses and PDFs are lifetime access.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hello my name is John Rogers, owner of JR Mastering.  I’m one of the most successful online mastering engineers, having worked with over 7,500 highly satisfied clients on over 40,000 songs since 1999.  

During my career I’ve worked with a handful of Grammy nominees, several songs I’ve mastered went top 5 on the European billboard charts.  I’ve mastered hundreds of songs for movie soundtracks, and for DJs who played them in clubs all over the world.

My debut book, Audio Mastering Secrets, is one of the first audio mastering books on the market that focuses entirely on “How to master audio to radio quality standards,” all from the comfort of your home studio.  No expensive gear required to get amazing results!

I also have a video series that will teach you how to master your style of music in under TWO hours!

Note - If you're looking for someone to mastering your songs (and don't want to learn yourself), visit my website JR Mastering.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK


This Book Is An 8.5” x 11” Learning Guide (184 Pages)

greatlearning

 

It focuses on how to master audio, how to become a great audio mastering engineer, and how not to be a bad one.  I don’t get into the specifics of brands of gear you should buy, the history of audio mastering, 1,000’s of compressor settings (of which maybe 40 you’ll ever use), or a dozen pages on how to sound proof your room. 

If you’re looking for that information, there are several other books on the market that explain those topics very well.

 

Common Mastering Problems And Their Solutions

18years
 

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.

 

Written In 2017

2017
 
 
In this book I work with up-to-date software and a digital DAW system, using current audio mastering techniques for this day and age.  I show you how to get great mastering results using your home PC, DAW and plugin software, and basic hardware.  No expensive old-school equipment required.
 
 

This Book Is Based On Real-World Experiences

learnaudiomastering

 

Not entirely on theory, what I learned in school, what I heard from some other engineer, etc.  I’ve mastered over 40,000 songs for over 7,500 highly satisfied clients.  Why is this important?  

1. Because I know the techniques and secrets that I’m teaching work very well!  The proof is in the thousands of positive email testimonials I’ve received.  

2. I also know which problems and situations arise very often, and which ones never happen at all.  Knowing this allows me to focus only on what you will actually experience when working on an audio mastering project.  Someone who hasn’t worked with a large number of customers won’t even know what areas to focus on.

 

My Step-By-Step Audio Mastering Session

masteringsimple
 
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!
 

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.  This is a great tool to refer back to if you don’t know the sonic qualities of all the different genres very well.

 

My Audio Mastering Laws

In this section, I cover a series of do’s, don’ts, 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.

 

Compression Made Easy

After reviewing hundreds of masters and re-masters from other online studios, I’ve found that most sound engineers don’t know how to properly use compression.  A lot of them never use it at all!  This causes their songs to break up badly during loud playback.   In this book, I cover everything you need to know about compression in audio mastering.  I eliminate 95% of the needless threshold/ratio combinations, which makes the entire process much simpler.

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.

 

Working With Clients

I cover a handful of important must-know facts if you’re working with clients.  Why lose jobs learning on your own (trial and error).  Learn from my past mistakes!

 

This Book Is A Very Easy Read

I left out all the high-tech jargon and rarely used words that slow down sentence flow.  I want everyone to learn how to properly master audio, while not having to try and figure out what I’m trying to say!  Ha!

 

And Much More!

In this book I cover audio mastering FAQs, definitions, concepts, and procedures.  I also talk about working with sonic qualities, A/B comparison, working with 4-BAND processors, creating headroom and dynamic range, evaluating the mix, protecting your hearing, EVERYTHING I’ve learned in the last 17 years!

In a matters of weeks, you can learn all of the audio mastering secrets, tips, and techniques that took me over 17 years to learn!

Or with my video series, learn in only TWO hours!!

If you started audio mastering and learning on your own this year, by 2034 you might learn everything that’s in this book and video series.  Ha!  Why not just make a small investment and start learning right now!

 


*INSTANT EBOOK DOWNLOAD*  AS LOW AS $6.89!

 

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BUY THE PAPERBACK BOOK

 

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