Mastering: Proceed With Caution. This should be a warning label plastered on every piece of gear that even could be used for mastering purposes.
Why is that? Because we tend to…”overdo” it when it comes to mastering.
We like to EQ in big chunks, add mega stereo width, and squash our mixes to death with mastering limiters.
Unfortunately this doesn’t bode well for our “mastering” process.
Which is why it is absolutely essential to use this tip when mastering your tracks.
Everything in moderation.
That’s right, when you’re mastering, moderation is your friend. Your best friend, in fact.
During the mixing process, you might be able to do some crazy things with EQ, reverb, compression, etc. And it might sound cool and work. But in the mastering process, this isn’t the case. You need to make small adjustments, not major corrections. So here are some guidelines to follow to help your mastering process:
1. Don’t EQ more than =/- 3dB. Even 3dB is a lot. If you’re making adjustments larger than this, there’s probably something wrong with your mix. Go back and fix it there, you’ll be glad you did.
2. If you’re hearing clipping or squashing, you’re limiting it too much. Back it off until you can hear the dynamics in your production.
3. Compressing your mix should be limited to about 2-3 dB of gain reduction at most. Even less in some cases. Again, if you feel like you need more, go back and fix it in the mix.
With these guidelines, you should start to see that you should be fixing it in the mix rather than relying on your mastering process to make things sound better. Your overall product will be much better if you follow this method!