Useful Tips On Preparing Your Pre-Mastered Track
The following is just a guideline in order to achieve the best possible end results for your final masters. None of the below is compulsory - just to ensure that your song gets the best possible chance to compete in today's competitive market.
For best results, your pre-master file must meet the following:
WAV or AIFF format - not MP3
24 bit or higher
44.1k sample rate or higher
Plenty of headroom and no clipping - as shown in image above
No limiting applied to the output - a good pre-master is normally 10 to 18 dB quieter than the final master
Silent gap at the beginning and end - as shown in image above
If the above is met, your pre-master should look something like the image above.
AVOID SENDING MP3 FILES
Keep in mind that although you can send an MP3 file, the quality of your final master will suffer. This may affect the mastering engineer's ability to work effectively on your song.
A lot more can be achieved if the pre-master is a WAV or an AIFF file.
LISTEN TO YOUR SONG IN MONO
Your song may sound great in stereo, but how does it sound in mono? Have some elements disappeared? Playing in mono may highlight some issues that are easily missed in stereo.
When played on systems with only one speaker, mono-compatibility is crucial - make sure your song/mix sounds as you would expect it to in mono.
Don't forget to switch back to stereo after testing for mono compatibility.
GIVE PLENTY OF HEADROOM
If your song peaks at over 0 dB, it will clip, which may sound unpleasant - Try and keep them between -3 to -6dB, which gives plenty of headroom for the mastering engineer to work on.
(see image above)
AVOID USING LIMITERS ON THE MASTER OUTPUT
The loudness of your pre-master will not determine the loudness of your final master and may affect the engineers ability to work effectively.
LEAVE SILENT GAPS
If your song starts the moment you hit play and you bounce/export it like that, you may lose some important detail that the mastering engineer can't fix - this problem can easily be avoided by allowing a few seconds of silence at the beginning and also at the end of your song.
(see image above)