How much DBFS room should I leave for mastering?
Old 17th January 2013
  #1
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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?
Old 17th January 2013
  #2
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Shawn Hatfield's Avatar
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.
Old 17th January 2013
  #3
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

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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.

Quote:
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
Old 17th January 2013
  #4
I could see this thread drawing in an argument or two ...
Old 17th January 2013
  #5
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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.
Old 17th January 2013
  #6
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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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Old 17th January 2013
  #7
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The_K_Man's Avatar
 

Quote:
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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Old 17th January 2013
  #8
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Shawn Hatfield's Avatar
Quote:
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.
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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Old 17th January 2013
  #9
Yeah I was just thinking there'd be two sides showing up .. the "keep it down" guys and the "push it to zero" guys.
Old 17th January 2013
  #10
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MASSIVE Master's Avatar
 

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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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Old 17th January 2013
  #11
Gear addict
 

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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Old 17th January 2013
  #12
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right on, thanks for the replies gentleman.
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