The Checklist Before Mastering
1) Are all your levels correct?
- Gain staging is vital to a good sounding mix. Does your kick not hit hard enough? Try lowering the volume of the rest of the elements in your mix.
- Does your mix still sound dynamic after the processing you added in the mixing stage? If not, go back and lower the amount of compression added to single channels and groups.
3) Does your mix still have some headroom?
- Does your mix still have some space in dB between 0 dB and the maximum peak of your track? Is your master peaking into the red? Have you checked your tracks waveforms for strange spikes that may unexpectedly trigger the limiter during the mastering process?
4) Are you satisfied with the sound design?
- During the mastering process, unless you’re doing stem mastering, it’s tough to fix a poorly chosen sound without affecting the entire mix. Be sure to be satisfied with the overall sound of your mix before committing to mastering.
5) Are the Reverbs and Delay tracks balanced in volume? Does your track sound too blurry?
- Reverbs and Delays are the perfect weapon when it comes to creating a sense of width and depth in your mix, and to also expand the stereo field. However, an overlooked gain staging of one of these channels can be very destructive to the quality of your mix. These effects may sound perfect right after you slap them on to a sound, but be careful about their volume, as having one of these effects too loud can really blurry up your mix.