Are you planning to have your music played on the radio? By mastering your music, you prepare it for the air. Unfortunately, a lot of the mastering sessions are delivered on files in the wrong format. You can’t expect mastering engineer work miracles. When you give them garbage, you get garbage in return. If you handle the mix process improperly, your music will likely never be broadcasted or sound decent with any system.
There are a few mistakes that are commonly made that make it impossible for the mastering engineer to do his job right. If you can avoid these pitfalls, your sound will be far superior.
1. Mix levels.
If the bus meters he can read as soon as I press play, that will be a deal breaker. This is because there is no room left to add any gain. You need to monitor your output level by using the master fader. Some systems will force you to create a master fader or session. It is a valuable tool for the mix engineer. You will need to watch the final output level of the master fader to ensure the peaks ever go above 5 dB’s. No resolution will be lost if the original recording is in high definition.
2. Bus compression.
Most people love to hear the sound that comes with a good stereo bus compressor. There can be too much of a good thing, though. You can use an expander to help, but that leaves you working backwards attempting to undo the steps that were taken in the mix. The same sound will never be found. You should never overdo the limiting or compressing. If you create a heavily compressed or limited mix to listen to yourself, that should be fine, but the mastering studio should not receive that version.
3. Method of delivery.
You should never send your files on the CD. The audio CD only has one format where a data disc can have a number of formats burned to it. You can also deliver your files on a USB flash drive, hard drive, or uploaded to an FTP server like Dropbox. Never zip the files before you upload them. When you send a zipped file, the data is compressed and make calls problems for the mastering engineer.
By avoiding these mistakes, you will keep your mastering engineer happy.