Getting Your Music Ready for Online Mastering

When you decide to have your music done by online mastering, it is necessary to get your recording prepared before sending it to the studio for online mastering. One of the important premastering steps you need to complete is making sure that there is enough headroom to get the most out of your masters.

Headroom is the amount of space between the loudest points in your recording (or “peaks”) and 0dB. A good and workable headroom to have is roughly around 6dB between 0dB and the highest point.

Having a good amount of headroom is necessary since it is the space where the engineer will work on to give the song a professional finish. It is quite important that when you mix your song, there is still enough headroom that the engineer can work on.

Here are a few tips on preparing your recording to have a good headroom:

  1. Focus on the Highlight of Your Mix

Make sure that your mix does not try to give emphasis on all the elements found on the recording. It is very important that you choose an element which gives highlight to the song and focuses on that. Make that element the focus of improving your sound. Trying to increase the level of all the elements consumes the space that could have been saved for engineers to work on once your recording has been sent for online mastering.

Just keep in mind to pick a track to highlight and give your focus on it.

  1. Record at 24-bit Sample Rate

Always remember that recording in 24-bit sample rate allows you to create more headroom than a 16-bit sample rate. There may be cases where that you need to record at a 16-bit sample rate and that’s ok. But if there is a choice, choose the 24-bit. (read more here:

  1. Louder is Not the Goal

During the mix, it will often be tempting to make sure that your music sounds as loud as you can. Remember, if you make your recording loud during the mixing, you consume the headroom and there’s no space for the engineer to work on the song. Making your song too loud may create a negative effect on the overall sound of the song.

  1. Start Mixing the Loudest

When mixing your song, go with the approach of looking for the loudest section of your song and start doing your mix from that section. Following this approach allows you to work on the section that may consume the most space in the headroom. Once done, you will be fine with other sections as it will leave you with more space to work on for your masters.

  1. Watch the Master Meter

It is definitely necessary to use your ear when you are mixing your tracks. When it comes to headroom, you need to make sure that you are watching your master meter as this will give you an idea of how much headroom is left. If you see that your master meter is getting too close to zero, then you know you need to continue making adjustments to free up some headroom.