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....
The Music Production Secrets Series by John Rogers
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....
This article discusses what is the chorus effect in music and how to use it? The chorus effect makes a single audio track sound like a group. It achieves this by taking a single instrument or vocal track, multiplying it, and then slightly detunes each newly created track. The result is a fuller lush sounding audio track.
This article discusses what is the reverb effect in music and how to use it?The reverb effect is used to simulate space. When reverb is applied to a dry vocal or instrument track, it will sound like it was recorded live in the space size that was selected on the processor. Common space size options include a small room, vocal plate, large hall, etc.
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.
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.
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.
Since the begining of his solo career in 2008, I mastered over 80 songs with the top French recording artist NYLS. Great pop dance music with a lot of remixes. During his entire career (as of now), I mastered most of if not all the song he released. It was a great pleasure working with NYLS and Nico at Icon Records!
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!
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.