How much DBFS room should I leave for mastering?
Verve111
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17th January 2013
Old 17th January 2013
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How much DBFS room should I leave for mastering?

Hello - just wondering what you all like to see when someone brings a mix to you for mastering. How many DBFS do you like to have to play with. Also, what is the standard range to master to below 0 (in other words, how many DBFS below zero is the standard acceptable range to peak to.) Or is it conventional to get the peak of a track right below zero?

Many thanks!

by the way - is it how "much" or "many" DBFS?
Shawn Hatfield
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17th January 2013
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Theoretically, you can have your highest peak hitting 0dBFS. It's better to give yourself some padding. How much padding is a bit arbitrary, though you'll find anywhere from -6dBFS to -3dBFS usually gives you ample room. A mastering engineer can then use the appropriate gain staging on their end to set up their chain accordingly.
Adam Dempsey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verve111 View Post
Hello - just wondering what you all like to see when someone brings a mix to you for mastering. How many DBFS do you like to have to play with. Also, what is the standard range to master to below 0 (in other words, how many DBFS below zero is the standard acceptable range to peak to.) Or is it conventional to get the peak of a track right below zero?
Seriously, with 24 bit mixes I'd just mix to peak anywhere below 0dBFS and don't over-think it. Peak level could be tens of dB's below full scale and still exceed 16 bit specs. How it sounds is the thing.

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Originally Posted by Verve111 View Post
by the way - is it how "much" or "many" DBFS?
Either "how many dB below 0dBFS?" or "how much headroom below 0dBFS?"

Last edited by Adam Dempsey; 17th January 2013 at 02:32 AM.. Reason: additional headroom
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I could see this thread drawing in an argument or two ...
Verve111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dempsey View Post
Seriously, with 24 bit mixes I'd just mix to peak anywhere below 0dBFS and don't over-think it. Peak level could be tens of dB's below full scale and still exceed 16 bit specs. How it sounds is the thing.


"How many dB below 0dBFS?"
righto. I suppose that is the mastering engineer's role.

...deci isn't one of those pronouns, hence the lower case d. I knew it looked funky.
Verve111
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Originally Posted by brianellefson View Post
I could see this thread drawing in an argument or two ...
I'm sure - not my intention though. Part of me wants leave a lot of space for the masterful mastering compressors yet to come. The other part of me wants to let my mixes breath through the dynamic range I have.
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Originally Posted by Verve111 View Post
I'm sure - not my intention though. Part of me wants leave a lot of space for the masterful mastering compressors yet to come. The other part of me wants to let my mixes breath through the dynamic range I have.
Let that "other part" of you shine! Don't be one of the sheep. You're the customer - let your wishes be known to the mastering eng.
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Shawn Hatfield
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I'm sure - not my intention though. Part of me wants leave a lot of space for the masterful mastering compressors yet to come. The other part of me wants to let my mixes breath through the dynamic range I have.
Those two things can be mutually inclusive. Just let the ME know you like your music to breathe and if they end up compressing it too much or too little, you can let them know. They'll gladly adjust the settings for you. The key here is being a good communicator, for both parties.
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Yeah I was just thinking there'd be two sides showing up .. the "keep it down" guys and the "push it to zero" guys.
MASSIVE Master
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Quote:
(How much headroom) do you like to have to play with.
Some. I don't care if it's 1dB, 3, 6, 10, 15, 24... Some. "Natural" headroom - that is, the dynamics of the mix intact without the main buss being limited or excessively compressed.

Honestly - In 24-bit, I don't care how much (although there's no reason to go overboard) as long as there's *some* headroom.
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I don't care, for the most part, what your peak level is... as long as they are not excessively low. I just care about some nice dynamic range. Don't think about it too much. Just make your mixes sound good.
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Verve111
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right on, thanks for the replies gentleman.
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