What to have before PreMastering

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Lost for words with all to say.
Contributor Since: Sep 12, 2003

I'm about done with the exception of a few things to do with being down with my band's EP we are trying to get out. I mixed down some of our tracks and put them on a CD for our singer to have to sing too before we redo some of his vocal parts, so he could know how it sounds. On my monitors and my friend's monitors (both M-Audio), they sound really good. In my car which is customize with 12" subs and components in front, etc.; it sort of sounds flat. The highs need more sparkle, kick and bass are good volume wise but need to be smooter, etc. I haven't really jumped onto premastering because I've been more concerned at the moment with recording it and mixing it. The question I have is, what do you need to have complete in the mixing stage? Is it really up to who does your premastering/mastering to tell you or is there kind of a general rule? These problems I explain, does premastering really fix the issue of it sounds good in majority of systems? I know this is sort of a loaded question but I think this would be a helpful discussion to see what everybody's opinon is.

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Since: Apr 03, 2002

Oct 06, 2004 02:57 pm

"Premastering", as I see it, isn't a specific job, it's an tangible product. Mixdown and mastering are "tasks", a "premaster" is the two track stereo recording (or more tracks if surround sound) that you have when you are finished mixing down.

That "premaster" is then handed off to the mastering engineer to add the sparkle and power, even out precieved volume from track to track, harmonically balance it.

While this may not be a technically correct explination, it's always how I have worked.

Lost for words with all to say.
Since: Sep 12, 2003

Oct 06, 2004 02:59 pm

Exactly what I thought. Premastering is the two track stereo eh? Hmm, learn something everyday. Been calling it wrong for a while now!

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Oct 06, 2004 03:03 pm

"Premastering" makes it sound like a job or task. The stero mixdown recording is "the premaster".

subtle, but worth noting I think...

Bane of All Existence
Since: Mar 27, 2003

Oct 06, 2004 05:32 pm

don't compress the main mix. let that happen in the mastering process.

Abomb Muchbaby
Since: Jul 02, 2009

Aug 22, 2013 12:33 pm

This is the exact type of discussion I was looking for. I have been recording for a long time, and have never had anything mastered. I am wrapping up a project for a band that is going to have it mastered, and I want to make sure that I provide all the necessary things in the right order and format to make the next guy's life as easy as possible.

That being said, is there anyone who could outline a properly supplied "pre-master"? I am looking for things like sample rate, bit depth, bit rate (quality), etc... Just don't want compromise anything unintentionally...

Thanks -


Since: Apr 03, 2002

Aug 22, 2013 12:36 pm

In the end, if you are going down to a typical stereo CD, it will wind up 16 bit...supplying anything above that will be fine, but it'll end up down to 16 bit in the end...actually, I believe around 13-14 bit, but that is a geeky discussion...

bace135 in the house tonight!
Since: Jan 28, 2003

Aug 22, 2013 01:50 pm

I guess the main thing is, give it to the mastering person in as good quality as you have it. If it's recorded in 16 bit, you can make it 24 bit, but it won't add any quality to it. If it's recorded in 24 bit, give it to the mastering person in 24 bit, if you compress it to 16 bit you will lose some information that might have been helpful for a pro mastering person.

So, with that being said, if you recorded in something above "CD quality" you will want to transmit the songs in some sort of lossless file (wav, aiff, etc.), and not just burn the songs to CD.

MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
Since: Aug 05, 2008

Aug 22, 2013 09:50 pm

Render to a 24-bit word length PCM files (.wav, .aif, etc.) in whatever sample rate you're working in. No limiting or excessive compression on the master buss and *SOME* natural headroom (no clipping).

The amount of headroom really isn't important. 1 or 2dB is fine. 6 is fine. 10 is fine. 20 is fine. It's not like it's going to be "too quiet" and you aren't losing fidelity until you get to stupid-low.

Since: Apr 03, 2002

Aug 22, 2013 09:53 pm

Is "stupid-low" an industry term? :-)

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