Preparing Your Premasters

So you’ve finalised your tunes and now need to deliver premasters, so they get ready for release day. The premasters are the final step before sending the tracks to be mastered to a studio such as ours. On this page we’ve gathered some information that will help you export your tracks properly.

Master Channel
The first check you need to do is make sure the tracks have headroom, so the mastering engineer has something to work with. The industry standard is around -6db on the master channel without any limiters on it.

Most DAWs treat the master channel the same, so you will want to listen to your track from beginning to end and make sure that the level doesn’t go above the -6db mark. You don’t have to be literal, some threshold and peaks up-to -5 or -4db are allowed, but make sure the majority of the track stays tamed to our mark.

In short, no limiting plug-ins should be present and you should aim around the -6db mark.

Check for Mono Compatibility
A good habit when mixing or even producing is checking your mix in mono constantly and making sure the phasing isn’t colliding. Most often issues with the phasing, or so called phasing cancellation will cause for whole sound elements to disappear when you are listening in mono, but most often the kick and bass are the ones suffering.

In many clubs the sound-systems are set in mono, so please make sure your tracks are compatible and fix any issues you might encounter, you will want your track to sound as good as it is in mono as it does in stereo. The engineer will not check the tracks for mono compatibility.

As a reference, you can check this publication by Waves for some tips on how to avoid phase cancellation.

Make sure your sounds are balanced
The premaster should sound as you imagine the track should, after all it is the final mix-down and everything should sound in place and have the correct amount of loudness, as you envisioned it when producing.

When you send your tunes for mastering, you will want for the mastering engineer to have as little as possible playing around with EQs and such, and try to make the mix-down as balanced as possible. Like mastering engineers, make sure you’ve listened to your premasters on several devices before sending it. Even if you have monitors or professional gear, play the tracks on completely different audio sources as they often will reveal any issues that might be present in your mix.

If you find the mix-down stage to be stressful to you, in addition to mastering we offer mixing services.

Check Your Editing & Details In Production
So, imagine you send your track to be mastered, but after you receive the finalised version you notice there’s a pop because you’ve cut the sample wrong, or perhaps left some unwanted channel turned on.

Before exporting your premaster, make sure to go through the track few times from start to end and confirm with yourself that it’s in-fact as finalised as you imagine it.

Time for Exporting
It’s best you export the premasters in WAV or AIFF format, a lossless uncompressed format that’s a perfect copy of what you’ve produced, all baked together.

You will want the best quality, and that means to be as transparent as possible with the export. If the project you’ve made is produced in 44.1KHz sample rate, you will want your export to be the same. If it’s in 48KHz, you will want to export it like that. You will want to avoid upscaling or downscaling your tracks, export natively. The most common resolution is 24-bit, anything below can result in audible loss of quality.