Are those mixes nearly done? Just a few more tweaks and they are ready for mastering? Check these 5 things before sending off those mixes:
Absolutely stereo .wav or .aiff. 24bit preferrably at 44.1kHz of higher. ABSOLUTELY NO .mp3s .. but if for some reason that is all you have they can be used as a last resort but it is really a big step back in quality.
2. Pops, clicks and edits
I know it’s a drag but going over you regions and checking that they have been faded in or out or crossfaded if a region is overlapping is such a simple thing but can make all the difference. A bad edit will also cause you regret once the music is out there and you can always hear that one little vocal edit that sounds weird. Check them and fix them.
3. Tame The Percussion Lion
Check percussive elements and tame those dynamic peaks. This is especially true for most pop, rock, metal and indie music. If it has drums and you want it to be comparably loud to other songs released commercially then using some limiting and compression to tame those peaks will make a big difference. If I have to do it in mastering it will be compromising the rest of the mix.
4. Get Out Of There
Step outside the room you’re listening in and take note of the volume of the vocal in the mix (if it’s not instrumental). Listen for the snare too, then the kick drum, then the bass guitar and then other elements of the mix. Do any stand out clearly? They probably need to be turned down a dB or two. Could also be an EQ thing. The “outside the room” trick really helps give you perspective on the balance of the mix.
Mono Check 1, 2 …
Check your mixes in mono. Most “fuller” frequency systems are stereo but a large number of smartphones are not. If you’ve got something funky going on in mono people will hear it (just happened to me tonight). Plus it’s just another good way to get more perspective on your mixes.
Bonus Check Point
Listen to the mixes on a small speaker, bluetooth and smartphone. Why? Can you hear the bass? Maybe it needs a little more sculpting with EQ to translate to smaller speakers. Don’t go overboard, it’s always a compromise.
Is the bass blowing out the song on the small speaker? Maybe you need to tame that bottom end on the kick, bass or a synth part. Maybe there is sludgy mud build up in the 200 – 300 Hz range? Try turning the speaker or phone volume so it’s just audible and seeing what the balance is like of all the instruments. What is most prominent? Probably should be the vocal and snare, possibly a secondary melodic part should be there a little quieter too.
There are probably more things I could list (and I probably will) but these will definitely help get your mixes much more master ready than not. Leave your thoughts, comments, suggestions below in the comments.