Contributed By

Getting your project mixed down and ready for mastering.

Premastering your tape is where you can save yourself a fistful of dollars versus having it all done at the replication house. A facility like dB Masters has to charge a per-hour rate for the time it takes to compress, add reverb, equalize, or whatever is needed to prepare the tape for production. By getting your recording as close to the sound as you can before entering production, you save yourself those charges.

Things to consider when doing it yourself are making sure the instruments are mixed properly (obviously) and the presence of each is appropriate. By "presence" I am mostly referring to the use of reverb and effects like that that make the instrument or voice sound sunken into the mix, or lack of them that makes the instrument or voice sound like it is right in front of your face.

Having a mix with the guitar processed with reverb and chorus, and having the lead vocals dry, for example, will sound un-natural because the guitar will sound like it is several feet in front of you and the vocalist will appear to be screaming in your face. If that is the image you want, go for it, but, as a rule it is annoying, and will promote ear and listener fatigue, and you don't want that!

If you are in a situation where your available tracks forced you to make the rhythm section mono, be sure to apply the reverb to the mixdown in stereo. This will promote the illusion of a stereo mix, and add to the over-all sound.

When premastering, be sure to use decent speakers that are equa-distant from your head so you get a true stereo image while mixing, and, if possible, listen to it through a few different speakers. If you have a boom-box available try the tape through that, maybe a car stereo, or your friends state-of-the-art hi-fi system. This will give you the opportunity to get the best sound for all listeners.

As far as tips or tricks for using effects on the premaster, it is strictly an issue of taste, if you like the way it sounds, that is what counts...if it sounds good, it is good. Over processing starts to sound thin, especially over-reverbing, and under processing sounds amateur, so ride a fine line of taste and the genuine sound you are making, and all will be well.

Related Forum Topics:

User-submitted comments

HoTBoX Studios
Oct 07, 2009 09:01 am
Great Advice
Id like to add that listening to your mix on a small alarm radio or a radio similar to that would give you an idea of what needs to be louder or lower in volume and it will give an idea of how the average person might hear the mix.

If you would like to leave comments to the articles you read, feel free to register for your free membership.