Preparing a Reaper project for mastering

As part of the latest Six String Bliss album project we have the luxury of having home recording maestro, Jan Buchholz, undertake the mastering process. This means that, despite many people submitting songs, all radically different and using different DAWs, the end result will have an element of consistency.

Jan stated his simple basic requirements: Stereo WAV file, 24 bit, 44.1kHz, with no heavy limiting/compression on the whole track. The last aspect of this is most important. Jan needs an amount of headroom to work with and if you’ve compressed the buggery out of your track he has nowhere else to go. To make the rest of the tracks consistent then he’d have to compress the bejaysus out of everything else and nobody wants that.

To prepare my track for Jan I went through every track and made sure nothing was going beyond 0dB. If I had been smart I would have done this before I started mixing and during the mixing process.

On every track I add the plugin called “JS: schwa/audio_statistics” at the end of the plugin list. Initially this is of no use because all the values are empty but, once you’ve allowed the project to play all the way through the values are populated. The key information we’re looking for is the “Peak dB”. Keep that under 0dB for every track and they’re all good to go. Note that every time you press “play” it resets the values and starts again.

audio_statistics

Finally I add the same plugin to the master track, run it through again and adjust the level so that the peak dB is somewhere between -6dB and -2dB. It goes without saying that this is without any other mastering type plugins on the master track. If you have the luxury of a mastering engineer then leave them to do their job. Your job is to focus on making sure each individual track sounds good and fits with everything else (volume, EQ and placement in the stereo space).

I’m looking forward to hearing how the final track sounds once Jan has sprinkled his magic fairy dust on it. When the album has been released I will post before and after examples of my track.

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