What Does the Master Need?


May 5, 2010
I am a musician, and I do most of my own recordings. In fact I have helped many musicians record smal projects they have been working on. I feel comfortable recording and doing a little mixing.

I want to put together a full album, I want to do be it's best, so I have decided that I will send it to a mastering engineer to put it all together. My question is what does the mastering engineer need from me? Sure, the audio files, but what format is preferred? Also, is there anything in the recording process (beyond the usual things) that I should be aware of that might help the mastering engineer? How much mixing should I do? by that I guess I'm asking if I mix the project to where I like it then send it to the Engineer? Do I mess with eqs, or do I send it raw?

As you can probably guess I am new to the mastering side of things, so even if you could point me to a place with more information that would be appreciated. I am probably going to record using Cubase or Logic, and I have access to good equipment. My music is mostly acoustic with vocals.


Well-Known Member
Jul 29, 2004

The format of the stereo audio files (wordlenght and sample rates) should be the same as the original recording, if you recorded the tracks in 24 bit/48kHz then you should export your mix in the same resolution. Make sure that no plugins are clipping as well as any tracks internally. Make your mix sound as good as possible and the way you are totally satisfied without bothering about the volume. Send your mixes when you are totally happy with your mix and how it sounds. Do anything that is at the service of your music. Your ME will surely help you if there is something that needs correction.




I prefer to receive 24 bit or 32 bit WAV or AIFF files for mastering. I agree with Richard that you should mix down to the same sample rate as you record. I usually recommend not using any processing on the stereo mix bus, but if you must compress because it's part of the sound, be conservative (1 dB - 3 dB of gain reduction maximum). As for mixing, I always find it best that the vocals be loud and clear, as they do tend to lower a bit when limited in mastering. If you are looking for a loud master, try to make your mixes clear and well balanced with a good sense of imaging and depth.

Chris Adler
Mindtree Studios