F.A.Q. – Frequently Asked Questions about mastering

Use the Search function for your questions and find your answer here

2-FAQ Frequently Asked Questions-2016-01-03.csv

Delivery requirements for masteringThe Mixdown should be exported at 24bit or 32bit 44.1khz .wav or .aiff
and i the mixdown export may not be clipping.
Take all effects on the master bus off, unless you use it as an creative effects.
Allow atleast 3dB atleast of headroom (with your limiter turned off)
Stem-MasteringExport all seperate tracks at full song-lenght in44100, 24 bit in .wav or .aiff format.

- Name your filles correctly. e.g. Kick, Bassline, Snare, Lead, Stab, Percussion, etc.

- Provide me a preview of your OWN mixdown in .mp3 for reference.

- Provide me your wishes for the result of the mix.
Can you send me some tracks or samples you mastered?I am not allowed to send mastered work from others unfortunately.

Because the rights are not on my side.

But when you look at my site in my portefolio


Most of those titels you can find and listen at the download portals like www.beatport.com etc.

If you have any questions regarding this, let me know.
Can you master a snippet of my track before i decide?Yes, I will make a snippet of the master for you, no problem.

Contact me by mail for this at mastering@audiobyray.com

Keep in mind Mp3 is NOT a good format for a quality master and will not be accepted.

Export about 1 minute of your mixdown as .wav of .aiff format in 24bit 44.1 khz, with not (to much) limiting on it.
What is mastering?Mastering is the process of taking the final stereo mixes produced by a recording-studio,
and creating an album (or single) master ready for duplication.
It is the final creative stage in the music recording-process.
During this process, extra sound processing is usually applied in order to get the sound just right, and to fix any problems from the recording/producing stage.
Mastering VS Mixing - what's the difference?Sometimes we receive poor-mixed tracks or tracks which we can mix better.
In this case we may offer you both mixing and mastering, so you could get even better sound.
Even if you're sure that your mixing is good, we may mix it better!
Why should I have my material professionally mastered?To put it simple, than it sounds as good as possible.
Professional mastering engineers have years or decades of experience.
They have mastered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of projects.
They work in proper sounding rooms with proper professional equipment.
And they know exactly what to do to make your music sound better.
It’s not just making your tracks louder by using maximizers before proceeding with the copies.
It’s a process that gets the best possible sound out of your music.
What mastering cannot do?Rude mistakes in the instruments balance, nonlinear distortions on instruments or whole mix, overcompression of the instruments or the whole mix, excessive reverbs or delays, imperfect preformance.
It's not possible to get a fat and driving mix from a bad arrangement.
How do I upload my music to AudiobyRay Mastering?Just upload it via this link http://www.audiobyray.com/mastering/
Or contact me at mastering@audiobyray.com for a dropbox account
What exactly should I upload to AudiobyRay Mastering?Most of our clients send us their mixes as WAV files at 44.1kHz, 24 bits.
Please don’t put any processing on the mix bus.
Do not normalise! Do not finalize! Do not maximize!
Do not apply any other overall processing to the entire mix as it should be carried out at the mastering stage.
How do I pay for the mastering?With Paypal of via Banktransfer.
Contact me for the details.
How long will it take for my music to be mastered and/or mixed?We will always do our best to get your order done promptly.
And have normaly a turn around of 1 or 2 days
You're on a deadline, let me know
In which format will I receive my mastered tracks?We deliver your mastered tracks as WAV files. 44.1 KHz, 16 bits and as a MP3 320kbps CBR
What should I do if i'm not happy with how it sounds now?If you are not satisfied with the sound of the mastered material, please contact me..
If there is a problem due to an error on our part, then naturally we will correct it free of charge.
If you require changes or amendments to the work, please contact me.
Plug-ins on the Master OutputIf you are using plug-ins on the master output during mixing, then export two versions: A) one version with plug-ins enabled on the master output, and B) one version with plug-ins bypassed on the master output. Limiting or clipping should be avoided on mixdowns for mastering.
Having two mix versions gives me a choice in case you over-processed the mix. Check that your mix does not exceed the headroom when bypassing the plug-ins. If the master bus is overloading after bypassing the plug-ins, simply lower the master fader. Do not bypass plug-ins on individual channels in the mix.
HeadroomYour 24 bit mix should have its highest peak between -12 dBFS and -3 dBFS. This translates to between 12 and 3 dB of headroom before exceeding the digital ceiling of 0 dBFS. If you are recording an analog mix into your DAW follow example B below.
HeadroomHeadroom is the amount of dB before your mix clips and the overload indicator lights up on your master output. If your mix is too loud then simply lower the output fader until the highest peak is within the recommended range. Sound quality will not be affected when you lower the fader. With 24 bits you can go as low as -48 dBFS and still have full CD quality (16 bit). However, once you exceed the digital ceiling, distortion will occur, and it will not be possible to restore the original quality. There is no reason to maximize the volume during mixdown. I will make sure your song reaches its maximum loudness potential later in the mastering process.
Tips for Mixing - From a Mastering Point of Viewhe following issues can be fixed with greater success in the mixing process than in the mastering process. Make sure you pay extra attention to these points:
NoiseWith analog recordings (guitar, drums, etc.) or completely analog mixes, use the mute automation function in your sequencer or on your mixer to eliminate hiss noise. Mute individual channels or groups when they are not active. This is particularly important in the intro, breakdown, and outro since it will reduce the level of noise in the parts of the song where it is most audible.
Phase and polarityCheck to see if recorded drums are out of phase. Other common problems are synthesizer sounds with too much anti-phase and applying a fake stereo spreader. Check your mix in mono playback to see if sounds almost or entirely disappear because of inverted polarity.
Phase and polarityMost professional sequencers include a correlation meter to check for phase problems. When the meter is indicating a value towards +1 the sound is in phase. When the meter value is towards -1 the sound is out of phase. A value of exactly -1 means you have inverted the polarity, which will make it disappear completely in mono playback.
Sub frequenciesLoud or unnecessary sub frequencies (below 40 Hz) in individual tracks can cause problems with the sound quality and the final volume of the master. Make sure you low cut all tracks that do not contain meaningful sound in the sub frequencies. For instance, a vocal can be cut at around 80 Hz to avoid pops or rumble. Using a gentle 12 dB/Octave slope will sound more natural than a steep filter. Do not cut the entire mix though as this could lead to a thin sounding mix if you are not careful.
Sibilants and other sharp soundsSibilants and other sharp whistling or clicking sounds from the mouth or string instruments are a serious challenge when mastering. Make sure the vocalist controls his or her sibilants. Use a de-esser if necessary, preferably a broadband de-esser to avoid lisping artifacts. Use volume automation on very loud sibilants, plosives, or click sounds. Also pay attention to other sharp sounds that stick out, i.e. crash cymbals and hi-hats.
Vocal levelsAn uneven vocal is difficult to fix in the mastering process. Sometimes two compressors with a low ratio is better than one compressor with a high ratio. Even with correct vocal compression you often still need to do volume automation. Turn individual passages or words up or down until everything is smooth and clearly audible. Try listening at a low volume while adjusting the volume automation on the vocal track.
Alternative VersionsIt is common practice to provide alternative versions of the mix with vocals up (or down), e.g. +0.6 dB and +1.4 dB, as well as an instrumental and a capella version. Sometimes you make a version with a louder kick and/or snare drum. You do not have to send these right away, but make sure you have them ready or are able to recall your mix.
Alternative VersionsClearly write the difference in the file name itself and in the notes. Everything else in the file should be 100% identical to the normal version, so do not adjust the master fader. If necessary I can choose from the alternative versions or splice parts later. If you ask me for a mix check before delivering the final mix then alternative versions are rarely needed. Many record companies insist on having the alternative versions, so be prepared.
Most professional sequencers have an easy way of offsetting automation. This makes bouncing alternative versions a breeze. In Logic Pro you hold down the Command key while dragging the vertical yellow automation bar up or down. For other sequencers please refer to your manual.
Alternatively, you can use the output gain in the last plug-in on the track channel to raise or lower the output level. If you are outputting or sending the channel to a bus with dynamic processing or if your are using the channel for sidechaining, you can not use this alternative method.
Start/EndExport your mix at least one bar before it actually starts. Include a couple of extra bars at the end to ensure reverbs, delays, and instrument decays have tapered off completely.
FadesDo not fade out the end of the mix. Instead, tell me where the fade should begin and end. Write down the fade times in absolute or relative terms, i.e. “fade out from 3:15 to 3:30” or “fade the last 15 seconds of the song”.
File FormatWAV or AIFF is preferred.
Stereo FormatChoose interleaved stereo and not split stereo when bouncing or exporting your mixdown for mastering.
Stereo FormatIf your sequencer does not give you a choice of stereo format then it is most likely using interleaved stereo. Interleaved stereo uses one single stereo file. Split stereo uses two individual mono files, something that does not suit the mastering workflow.
Bit Resolution24 bit.
Bit Resolution16 bit files are only used whenever it is not possible to get a 24 bit file of the same mix. All professional sequencers are able to export in 24 bit, but some hard disk recorders only burn audio CDs (which are always 16 bit). 32 bit floating point is not used for mixdowns for mastering. The actual sound contents of a 32 bit float file is identical to that of the 24 bit fixed format, it takes up more space, and is slower to data transfer.
Sample Rate44.1 kHz or higher.

Only export in higher sample rates than 44.1 kHz if your project is actually recorded and processed at that rate. The advantages and disadvantages of using higher sample rates are debatable. If your project contains different sample rates then do not convert sample rates yourself, let the me do it. If you need to put your master in a movie or you require a different target sample rate than 44.1 kHz, then tell me in advance.
Dithering and Noise Shapingo not use noise shaping or colored dither, e.g. UV22 or POW-r when exporting your mixdown for mastering.

In very rare cases noise shaping can cause high frequency artifacts during the mastering process. You can use flat dither during the mixdown, referred to as TPDF. In all circumstances dithering and noise shaping on a 24 bit file has very little effect on the sound, so leave if off if you are uncertain. The final bit reduction to 16 bit (audio CD format) is performed by me as the last step of the mastering process.
NormalizingDo not use any kind of normalizing on your mixdown.

Normalizing raises the signal level in an unnecessary fashion, and it will change the amount of headroom left in the mix. The final volume level of the mix will be optimized by me.
Realtime or Offline BouncingIn theory a realtime and offline bounce are identical. However, sometimes track automation and unsynchronized LFOʼs are not identical due to small timing differences. If you decide to do an offline bounce then listen through the bounce before sending it to me.
Listen to Your MixdownAlways listen to the exported file from the beginning to the end before sending. Make sure everything is playing correctly, that the beginning and end are intact, and that no artifacts or click sounds occur.
The mix is overloading/clippingYour master output is too loud. Simply turn down the master fader. There will be no loss of quality as long as you follow the advice given in this document.
Plug-ins are active on the master outputMake one mix with plug-ins and one without plug-ins on the master output.
The intro has a click or overlapping reverb/delay tailsThis is caused by a missing reset buffer command in the sequencer or 3rd party plug-in. Add a small piece of dummy audio at the beginning of problematic tracks. This will trigger the buffer error before the actual song starts. Make sure there is at least one empty bar before the music starts.
The reverb, delay or instrument tail is missing at the end of the songExport your song with at least one extra bar at the end.
Clicks or other artifacts in the mixClicks are often caused by bad edits, imprecise mute automation or automation errors. Using headphones, solo each track in the mix until you find the culprit. Random clicks are often caused by using a sound card buffer size that is too low. Use a higher buffer size and try again.
White noise in the exported audio fileLoud white noise is usually caused by a computer error or file transfer error. Restart your computer and sequencer and export again. Always pack WAV files as a ZIP file before transferring over the Internet.
Sending Files Over the InternetBefore sending a file on the Internet you should pack it as a ZIP file to maintain data integrity.
2-FAQ Frequently Asked Questions-2016-01-03.csv