Thinking about how to Mix and Master a Song Professionally? If yes, reading this blog could help quench your curiosity at least a bit. Given below are the steps to mixing and mastering a song.
1. Create a Good Listening Space
Your space may have a huge effect on how you listen to your song – it may change the entire mix and/or master.
2. Perfect the Mix
For this step, the mastering engineer may have to do very little. In case the mix is solid, that may mean less work would be required during mastering. It may be good if one gets their song 90% to pro-level in this step and let mastering make up the final 10%.
3. No Clipping Prior to the Bounce
It is important to check the levels before mastering a song. Especially, ensure none of the levels are clipping.
4. Bounce the Mix
Now, bounce the mix to a single file. The export settings have to be exactly the same as what you recorded in. In addition, it is important to export it as a lossless file–AIFF or WAV. Lastly, do not use the “Normalize” setting, in case your DAW has that.
5. Take a Break
The more time in between mixing and mastering, the better the masters may be. So, take a break.
6. Start a New Project in Your DAW
This step includes creating a new project in your DAW and importing your reference tracks. It is most likely good to be working with reference tracks.
7. Listen and Take Notes
Listen to the song and take notes. You may write down what may require work.
8. Analyze It
A graphic analyzer is a piece of software, it visually compares the spectrums of two different songs. With this, one can see the frequency spectrum of their track right next to the reference tracks. Though, you should not rely too much on this.
9. Compress It
Now, it is time to actually begin mastering. The first move one may make in this step is compression. This may help the song feel more “one.” One may only need about 1-2dBs of gain reduction. It may be good to keep your attack time conservative. One may set their release time to “auto release” as that should give them a natural sound. In case your DAW does not have that option, you may start with 150ms and go from there. However, ultimately, you should use your ears. There is no exact formula for this.
10. Tone It
Go back to the notes you took during the initial listen. Using EQ, you may fix the problem sounds you came across.
11. Enhance It
This step is not necessary, but it can be taken. The things you can do in this step are saturation, add stereo widening and volume automation. Though, it is easy to overdo these things so be careful to not do too much.
12. Limit It
Limiting is one of the most important steps of mastering. Limiting makes the mix of the song louder. It is the thing that turns the songs as loud as what one listens to on the radio.
13. Bounce It
Export your project as a lossless file, either as an AIFF or WAV. Secondly, ensure you are exporting at 16 bits and a 44.1kHz sample rate. This is the standard for music in today’s time. Thirdly, you would have to dither your track. Fourth, do not use the Normalize function in your DAW. Then hit “OK” or “Submit” or whatever your DAW shows.
By reading the above-mentioned steps, you would have gotten a gist of how to master a song. You may have also gotten an idea of what mastering a song is and what you need to master a song.