Screen image from Ableton showing music being created on screen

How to prepare your pre-master

 

Audio mastering of your tracks is an incredibly important part of your personal or label brand. Poor quality audio will kill you! At UM Records we have a long standing relationship with one of the industry’s best mastering engineers in Rob Small. His craft has benefitted many of our artists and seen him work across digital and vinyl releases for us.

 

Yes, there’s a different mastering method for different mediums, even Apple iTunes has it’s own preferred style. A great track with poor mastering will lose potential and a good track with the right engineering can easily become a ‘great’ track when played out! But, we don’t just get a track and fire it over to Rob to Pre-Master Specification

 

How do I prepare a pre-master audio file?

 

Premasters should be made without any compression, eq, or limiting plugs on the master output channel prior to exporting/bouncing the track from your DAW.

 

Leave at least -7dB of headroom volume on your master channel when you export/bounce down your premaster.

 

Heavy limiting will result in less headroom for mastering. Peaks cut off by limiting can never be restored in the mastering process thus affecting output quality greatly.

 

How Should I Prepare My Tracks For Mastering?

 

When exporting/bouncing your premastered tracks from your DAW (DigitalAudio Workstation), please create a one-bar gap at the start of your recording. Select the area to be exported starting one bar before the track starts playing and one bar after all audio has stopped and the fade has completely gone to silence, this includes reverb tails and effects such as delays.

 

Remember to switch off your dithering.

 

Which File Format Should I Send?

 

Output your file as a 24-bit WAV of AIFF.

 

How do I name my track?

 

We usually use this naming convention for tracks:

 

UMRCatNo_TrackNo_ArtistName_Track_Mix_Premaster

 

What Levels Should My Mix Have?

 

Take care to ensure that the peaks of your mix do not exceed -3dBFS, and that your peaks do not reach 0dBFS as this is where clipping can occur. Make sure that you switch off any processing plugins on your mastermchannel. This includes EQ’s, Vintage Warmers, Compressors, and Limiters.

 

Below are some reference images of how your file should look in your DAW (pictured here in Ableton Live) prior to sending it for mastering.

 

Perfect Premaster in Green

Note of the amount of headroom and presence of dynamic range & transient peaks:

Incorrect Premaster In Red

Note of the lack of dynamic range and flattening of transient peaks due to heavy limiting and processing on the master output prior to exporting:

 

And finally… Make sure that you’re completely 100% confident with your mixdown before you send your track to be mastered. If your kicks are too loud, or your hats are too high, then the mastering will enhance this. Ensure your mixdowns are done to the best of your ability and that you’re satisfied before sending to the label.work his magic, there’s a process and specification needed for a pre-master, and so I thought I’d lay it out here…

 

More like this

Screen image from Ableton showing music being created on screen
Screen image from Ableton showing music being created on screen
Screen image from Ableton showing music being created on screen

How to prepare your pre-master

 

Audio mastering of your tracks is an incredibly important part of your personal or label brand. Poor quality audio will kill you! At UM Records we have a long standing relationship with one of the industry’s best mastering engineers in Rob Small. His craft has benefitted many of our artists and seen him work across digital and vinyl releases for us.

 

Yes, there’s a different mastering method for different mediums, even Apple iTunes has it’s own preferred style. A great track with poor mastering will lose potential and a good track with the right engineering can easily become a ‘great’ track when played out! But, we don’t just get a track and fire it over to Rob to Pre-Master Specification

 

How do I prepare a pre-master audio file?

 

Premasters should be made without any compression, eq, or limiting plugs on the master output channel prior to exporting/bouncing the track from your DAW.

 

Leave at least -7dB of headroom volume on your master channel when you export/bounce down your premaster.

 

Heavy limiting will result in less headroom for mastering. Peaks cut off by limiting can never be restored in the mastering process thus affecting output quality greatly.

 

How Should I Prepare My Tracks For Mastering?

 

When exporting/bouncing your premastered tracks from your DAW (DigitalAudio Workstation), please create a one-bar gap at the start of your recording. Select the area to be exported starting one bar before the track starts playing and one bar after all audio has stopped and the fade has completely gone to silence, this includes reverb tails and effects such as delays.

 

Remember to switch off your dithering.

 

Which File Format Should I Send?

 

Output your file as a 24-bit WAV of AIFF.

 

How do I name my track?

 

We usually use this naming convention for tracks:

 

UMRCatNo_TrackNo_ArtistName_Track_Mix_Premaster

 

What Levels Should My Mix Have?

 

Take care to ensure that the peaks of your mix do not exceed -3dBFS, and that your peaks do not reach 0dBFS as this is where clipping can occur. Make sure that you switch off any processing plugins on your mastermchannel. This includes EQ’s, Vintage Warmers, Compressors, and Limiters.

 

Below are some reference images of how your file should look in your DAW (pictured here in Ableton Live) prior to sending it for mastering.

 

Perfect Premaster in Green

Note of the amount of headroom and presence of dynamic range & transient peaks:

Incorrect Premaster In Red

Note of the lack of dynamic range and flattening of transient peaks due to heavy limiting and processing on the master output prior to exporting:

 

And finally… Make sure that you’re completely 100% confident with your mixdown before you send your track to be mastered. If your kicks are too loud, or your hats are too high, then the mastering will enhance this. Ensure your mixdowns are done to the best of your ability and that you’re satisfied before sending to the label.work his magic, there’s a process and specification needed for a pre-master, and so I thought I’d lay it out here…

 

Screen image from Ableton showing music being created on screen
Screen image from Ableton showing music being created on screen

Incorrect Premaster In Red

Note of the lack of dynamic range and flattening of transient peaks due to heavy limiting and processing on the master output prior to exporting:

 

And finally… Make sure that you’re completely 100% confident with your mixdown before you send your track to be mastered. If your kicks are too loud, or your hats are too high, then the mastering will enhance this. Ensure your mixdowns are done to the best of your ability and that you’re satisfied before sending to the label.work his magic, there’s a process and specification needed for a pre-master, and so I thought I’d lay it out here…

 

Screen image from Ableton showing music being created on screen

How to prepare your pre-master

 

Audio mastering of your tracks is an incredibly important part of your personal or label brand. Poor quality audio will kill you! At UM Records we have a long standing relationship with one of the industry’s best mastering engineers in Rob Small. His craft has benefitted many of our artists and seen him work across digital and vinyl releases for us.

 

Yes, there’s a different mastering method for different mediums, even Apple iTunes has it’s own preferred style. A great track with poor mastering will lose potential and a good track with the right engineering can easily become a ‘great’ track when played out! But, we don’t just get a track and fire it over to Rob to Pre-Master Specification

 

How do I prepare a pre-master audio file?

 

Premasters should be made without any compression, eq, or limiting plugs on the master output channel prior to exporting/bouncing the track from your DAW.

 

Leave at least -7dB of headroom volume on your master channel when you export/bounce down your premaster.

 

Heavy limiting will result in less headroom for mastering. Peaks cut off by limiting can never be restored in the mastering process thus affecting output quality greatly.

 

How Should I Prepare My Tracks For Mastering?

 

When exporting/bouncing your premastered tracks from your DAW (DigitalAudio Workstation), please create a one-bar gap at the start of your recording. Select the area to be exported starting one bar before the track starts playing and one bar after all audio has stopped and the fade has completely gone to silence, this includes reverb tails and effects such as delays.

 

Remember to switch off your dithering.

 

Which File Format Should I Send?

 

Output your file as a 24-bit WAV of AIFF.

 

How do I name my track?

 

We usually use this naming convention for tracks:

 

UMRCatNo_TrackNo_ArtistName_Track_Mix_Premaster

 

What Levels Should My Mix Have?

 

Take care to ensure that the peaks of your mix do not exceed -3dBFS, and that your peaks do not reach 0dBFS as this is where clipping can occur. Make sure that you switch off any processing plugins on your mastermchannel. This includes EQ’s, Vintage Warmers, Compressors, and Limiters.

 

Below are some reference images of how your file should look in your DAW (pictured here in Ableton Live) prior to sending it for mastering.

 

Perfect Premaster in Green

Note of the amount of headroom and presence of dynamic range & transient peaks:

Incorrect Premaster In Red

Note of the lack of dynamic range and flattening of transient peaks due to heavy limiting and processing on the master output prior to exporting:

 

And finally… Make sure that you’re completely 100% confident with your mixdown before you send your track to be mastered. If your kicks are too loud, or your hats are too high, then the mastering will enhance this. Ensure your mixdowns are done to the best of your ability and that you’re satisfied before sending to the label.work his magic, there’s a process and specification needed for a pre-master, and so I thought I’d lay it out here…