The guys of zeitgeistmastering.com mentioned some helpful tips on how to prepare your tracks for mastering in a youtube video. We are quickly summing them up:
Here are 8 essential tips:1. Make sure that there are no effects on your master channel when you bounce (export)
- In case you have essential effects on your master, send 2 versions:
- fx mix, giving your engineer an idea of the effect
- no fx mix, giving him the opportunity to apply his effects
- however: don't leave any limiter in place
2. Make sure the level of your track peaks somewhere between -6 and -3dB
3. If the peak level of your track is higher than -3dB, reduce the levels of the single tracks rather than lowering the master fader
4. Eliminate unwanted noise within your mix (for example by applying low cut and try to keep your mix clean and dynamic
5. Leave some silence at the beginning and at the end of the exported track (2 - 8 bars)
6. Bounce your track in the format your used audio samples where saved in (24 bit is the most common and adequate)
7. Don't normalize or apply any dither when you export
8. Think about realistic and relevant reference tracks that you might be able to suggest to your mastering engineer.
Remember: Mixing should be done before the mastering process. Make sure to find the right balance for your track (volumes and eqing of the individual tracks) before sending it to mastering - the mastering engineer will only be able to treat the sum of your efforts, not the individual tracks/channels.
Also, if you're interested, you might check out our tutorial on setting up a mastering chain using only Ableton built-in effects (this chain can be downloaded for free on this page right here):