Step 1 – Leave some headroom
Make sure your mix doesn’t peak above 0 dBFS, which is the the clipping point for a signal in a digital audio product.
Unlike analogue distortion that gives that nice and fuzzy feeling, digital distortion is just brutal and bad. For Masterchannel to have a nice mix to work on, leave a fair bit of headroom when bouncing the file.
Instead of just turning down your master fader, disable some of the mastering plugins before export. Any maximizer, limiter or compressor that’s just there to make it loud should be bypassed.
Why? Because when you have already pushed the limits, there is no room for mastering your mix without degrading side effects. It will become loud enough, just trust us.
Step 2 – Keep it in the family
The export sample rate should be identical to the sample rate of your project.
Sample rates come from two families: 44.1kHz and all its multiples (88.2, 174.4, 352.8), and 48kHz (96, 192, 384).
What you want is to avoid sample rate conversions, and you do this by bouncing your mix with the same sample rate as your project settings.
Also, make sure you work in 24 bit or higher. Why? More bits means a lower noisefloor to your project and allows for less noise introduced when using outboard equipment or regaining sources.
The end result might be a 16-bit file, but in the studio environment it makes sense to keep noise at its lowest until the very end.
Step 3 – Use your ears
Listen. Never forget to listen. Did you remember to unmute the tambourine or backing vocals? Did you just place things in the mix using panning, or did you also move them to the back or front using reverb, pre-delay and other tricks? Is everything in its right place?
It is well worth taking the time to listen in different environments and on a variety of devices. Try to listen in a car, on earbuds, small bluetooth speakers and really good hifi systems. Each situation will reveal new things in your mix.
Use your ears and make sure you are happy with your mix. Make a decision and call it done. Upload to Masterchannel and in an instant you will have your master back.
If you want to change something in the mix after mastering, go back to your Digital Audio Workstation, make the change and reupload your final mix free of charge.