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ki shi
Jun 20
Hello guys! Hope all is well.
Here's a little long self introduction but my whole point is about asking some mastering knowledge. I just thought explaining my background might help for you to simplify how to answer. Hope you don't mind;)haha

I'm producing an album for a rock band and about to finish mixing and send to mastering engineer.
I haven't studied about mastering and focused more on recording.mixing technique etc. Because my client will hire very well known mastering engineer. But now I feel like I need a bit more knowledge to maximize what mastering can do and communicate well with engineer.
So I just started to research stuff.

--I had many times that I leave some headroom. like -3 to -6db. So mastering engineer can put some audio processing.
and I took this advice without even thinking cuz I had heard so many times.
Then I watch Yoad Nevo mastering class video, you can find it on SoundGym recommendation.
There was a track that almost hit 0db. Then he just lowered the overall volume by using Q1 waves plugin! Well I think you can do Exactly same thing by using UTILITY,ableton stock plug in. Or even just lowering the volume in audio clip right?
Well if that works totally fine,why do we need to make a -6db headroom for sending stems to mastering engineers??
I feel like dynamic range is the one of biggest factor for mastering (then maybe slight coloring and other stuff?).
Headroom,you can create with no problem. Just literally few second procedure. Am I right?

Now I know it's all about how you feel. Use your ears advice works for any answers. But I believe audio engineering especially mastering process has a lot more logical or scientific knowledge requirement.
So I'd appreciate even any textbook type of answering too. Even giving me many stereotypical rules is fine. After all I can choose to follow or not:)

I posted here few days ago about lil different topic. I must learn more about dynamic range now and overall. But I'm happily on process of learning. Hope someone can help me understand this.

Thank you

Best regards.
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ki shi
Jun 20
Quick question is: Why you need to make a headroom when you send audio files to mastering engineer? Is it for avoiding clip? then if the peak in a whole song lower than -0.1db it should be ok no?
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Clipping, particularly when converting from analogue to digital leaves nasty artifacts. You need to leave enough headroom to ensure that the mastering engineer has ample room to increase the loudness etc.

I'm not sure what your process is, but what I like to do is to ensure that all the recorded tracks are roughly the same loudness prior to mixing. I set this volume on the clips. Be aware that this is not the same as peak volume. Loudness is perceived by the brain. I usually find that your transient material such as the kick drum can come up as high as around -10 dB whilst your vox might be as high as - 18 dB. Doing this before mixing I find, ensures a level playing field before even mixing - it means the faders all correspond with one another in terms of loudness, and gives their position in relation to one another a bit more meaning. From here on, it is important to gain stage. You can YouTube that, it is a fairly easy principle to get your head around, but nonetheless very important. Gain staging will also help you make decisions that won't create a bias for you - preferring something because it is louder.

If someone wants to expand on what I said, or correct me. Feel free! I'm also just a humble student : )
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ki shi
Jun 20
Hi Alexander! Thank you for your post!

So from the first paragraph, I guess you saying “lowering the mixed track volume to make headroom and put audio process to make it louder again could make artificial noise. So it’s better to make headroom during mixing stage and give enough headroom to mastering engineer.”?

So why does Yoad Nevo from the mastering tutorial, that’s in SoundGym recommendation, doing this “bring down master volume and bring it up again with some processing” you think?

I suppose it’s not like he has lack of knowledge on technical side of mastering.
Maybe he does this as last resort procedure or he doesn’t care much about digital artifact?

It’s also really good point you made about recording. I didn’t know that you should record all tracks as same possible. Well I do think it’s easier for mixing in that way but wasn’t taking it serious. I’ll take it serious more in next session:)

But now I really wanna know what to check before sending to mastering engineer.
I wanna make this record best in a condition. But I may not have a chance to discuss with mastering engineer cuz he’s so busy working on May records all the time. And my client is in charge to talk to him.
I wonder how producers/mixing engineers/ mastering engineers communicate each other as well..
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The reality is as long as you don't clip your master buss it really doesn't matter. A mastering engineer will just pull down the audio. Having headroom is good audio engineering practice to avoid inter samples peaks/digital distortion. This use to be a problem back int he days tape and early days of digital. But with such hi-res audio today the only thing that matters is that you don't clip and the song feels good. In audio there is only one rule If it sounds GOOD it is GOOD!

If you want a clean sound remember to do proper gain staging at all the relevant places.

Recording stage
Mic-PRE Amp-Audio Interface

Premix stage
Recorded Audio - Plugins

Mix Stage
Aux -Faders - Summed Busses - Master Channel

But remember Clipping is a sound and it's your job as an engineer to determine whether or not that is the sound we want, to get us where we want to go sonically. I would always talk to your mastering engineer and see what they prefer. Everyone is different so don't feel like you should know more, all projects they get are different. And it could be specific to the type of music and media. But remember you are a sonic artist. And If it sounds good it is Good!

Hope this helps.
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ki shi
Jun 21
“As long as you don't clip your master buss it really doesn't matter”. This is exactly what I was wondering! Thank you!

Yea I totally get it. Honestly as much as I like my current mixes, I always feel like it could be better. Sometimes I blame my environment, sometimes my skill set. Fact is there are always deadline that I have to finish but I wanna feel like I did my best, well technically I’m asking some help here tho haha.

So thank you so much guys! I’ll take my time to learn and experiment. But for this current project,I’d just give it a go. And communicate with mastering engineer.

Best regard