Originally Posted by goldphinga
(edited into 4 points for brevity)
-Should i leave the waves L1 on
(Im gonna burn L1 mixes anyway for manager/label to listen to.
-how much head room should i be leaving on the master output for the mastering engineer to work with? Ive heard -6 is about right.
-how do you guys feel about the benefits/downsides to mixing down to DAT.
Definitely take the L1 off before sending to mastering. Don't worry about adding level or evening out levels between tracks before mastering.
A limited reference copy (labeled "NFP - Not For Production" so it doesn't accidentally end up as a mastering or replication source later) for managers etc. to listen to is often a good idea as they don't understand technically why it isn't as loud as a mastered CD. However, don't push it too far or they'll expect the mastered version to be just as loud or louder, even if it crushes the life out of your music and causes plain-as-day distortion. Don't paint yourself into a corner.
How much room to leave? Just leave some. It doesn't have to be 6 (-6dB FS), and doesn't have to be a set amount, identical for every track. Just leave some kind of space. 2 or 3 is even enough. Don't worry about pushing your levels to the top. 6 is good too if that makes everybody comfortable. 9 is more than necessary, but if you're using a decent 24-bit A/D, it probably won't hurt you either. My point is that you have some leeway. Just be reasonable and don't clip it.
DAT is dead and should stay that way. Machines are getting old and not being maintained, tape stocks are harder to come by and less reliable (I have several boxes of Apogee DATs if anybody wants to give me anything for them... Lunch? A kind word perhaps?), the format is not very robust, tapes prone to damage, errors, deterioration, tracking problems among various machines, and it is only 16 bit. There's no reason to mix to DAT anymore when 24-bit aif or wav files on a data CDR are so easy to provide.