Here are our basic preferred requirements we need from you before we begin the Mastering process.
1 – No Distortion
On all files for Mastering, absolutely NO LIMITING OR CLIPPING (i.e going into the red) on the master output of your project. If your project is clipping into the red on playback, pull the Master fader down until it stops, don’t worry if it seems quiet, a quiet file is not a problem to make louder but a file that is clipped or limited is useless.
2 – No File Compression or Dithering
Do NOT dither or compress your files down, give me the highest quality files that you can, if your project is recorded at 24bit 48kHz then that should be the resolution of your output file(s).
3 – Supply the files in the right format
All files should be in either WAV or AIFF format.
What are “Stems”?
‘Stems’ are individual stereo sub-mixes of groups of instruments i.e Drums, Bass, Guitars, Vocals etc, all with the same length and all with the same start point. If you were to import your files into a fresh project and play them back together they should sound exactly the same as your complete mix.
How to supply Stems
For each song I prefer the groups of instruments in separate stems i.e:
- Lead Vocals
- Backing Vocals
Tip: Just try to group similar instruments into their own stem – i.e, all the guitars together, all the keyboards and synths together etc. Drums however should be on their own, separated out from any percussion etc, plus the Lead and Backing Vocals should also be in separate stems.
How to create a Stem
1. Go to your project and mute everything but the drums. Make sure that all of the reverbs, effects, automation and anything else you are using on the drums are still active and are still coming through with the drums themselves and make sure that your Master fader does not move between bounces.
*Important* Make sure that all of your files are the same length & have the same starting point!
2. Bounce out your drums as a stereo WAV or AIFF file, complete with reverb, effects & automation. Mute everything but your Bass. Also make sure that all reverbs, effects, automation etc associated with the Bass are still active and coming through. Bounce out your Bass as a stereo WAV or AIFF file complete with reverb, effects & automation.
3. Mute everything but your Lead Vocal. Also make sure that all reverbs, effects, automation etc associated with the Lead Vocal are still active and coming through.
4. Bounce out your Lead Vocal as a stereo WAV or AIFF file complete with reverb, effects & automation.
5. Repeat as above with the backing vocal track
6. Finally, mute the drums, bass, lead vocal & backing vocal. What remains should be everything that you have yet to bounce, i.e guitar, keys etc.
7. Bounce out your remaining instruments as a stereo WAV or AIFF file complete with reverb, effects & automation.
Remember, as above when you bounce/export the stems of your songs, make sure there is no limiting of any sort on the Master output and that it does not clip.
Now essentially what you will have is your song in 4/5 separate parts. If your bounces have been done correctly you should be able to drag your bounced files into a new project, they should line up correctly and your song should sound exactly the same as your original Master mixdown.
Any questions/problems just give me a shout for some free advice.