How best to prepare your mixes before sending them to get mastered

Blargo

New member
Hey!
So I'm working on an album, and I'm getting somewhat close to the point where I'll send the tracks off to get mastered.
Reviewing the mixes as a whole, I'm noticing some inconsistencies in the way the tracks are balanced.

On the one hand, it seems somewhat reasonable to think "The songs all have different parts, and therefore they fill the EQ in different ways. Why should they all be arbitrarily wiggled into a similar EQ profile?"
On the other hand, I can't help but worry that it sounds sloppy, or will make the job of the mastering engineer harder. - But then again, isn't that what the engineer is for? I know the tracks aren't perfect, that's why I'm sending them to get mastered... because "someone else has a better idea how to fix the balance than I do."
But then again- it's probably easier to adjust the balance on my end, because I have all the individual tracks and stuff, right?


I guess my specific questions are:

- Is it okay if the vocals don’t always occupy the same EQ spectrum in the mix? Should I try to make this more consistent? Sometimes they center around 250-500hz-ish sometimes 1k or even 2k ends up being where the meat of the vocals sits.

- What about the low end? Should I be adjusting my mixes so the low end always peaks at exactly the same level?

- What about the high end? should I try to keep my album at a consistent brightness before mastering?
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
Ideally, a mastering engineer isn't addressing issues best fixed during mixing. That means relative levels and eq between instruments. If one instrument is too loud or too bright compared to other instruments, you should fix that. Each song should be right in itself, but there might be overall differences between songs in volume or tone, and the mastering engineer can fix that kind of thing.

If you want things like vocal treatment to have a consistent theme across the album, that's up to you, but it's not necessarily the only correct approach.

Don't get too hung up about things like making the low end peak at the same level. Just make the mix sound as good and balanced as possible.

Same for the high end. Make each song sound as right as possible within itself. If you want a consistent style across the album, the time to make that happen is early in the process by using consistent methods of arrangement and recording. If that didn't happen, don't worry about it now, just make each mix as good as you can.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Make each song sound as right as possible within itself.
^^^^^^^^This.
I'm grateful that I grew up in the era of albums that were either mainly of one genre or were very diverse. I've never had a problem with albums in which all the songs sound totally different. In fact, I barely notice such a thing. And even with a lot of single genre albums, listening closely, there can be quite big differences between the sounds of, for example, the bass drums, the bass guitars, the acoustic guitars, brass, etc, not to mention the way panning works in different songs. Everything is song dependent and by the time you're halfway through the next song, you've probably forgotten the nuances of the previous one !
 

Blargo

New member
That makes sense. Thanks!

That helps put me at ease somewhat, lol. I just get nervous about it because I've definitely made mistakes before and I want my project to be as good as it can be.
 
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