The mastering engineer can help you bring the finished mix to a commercial sound. Besides, it can prepare it for distributing by a physical media, such as a CD, if you are a huge fan of digital, or a vinyl record, if you are a fan of the analog sound. In the last case, you shouldn’t forget about good speakers for a vinyl player. Check has-sound to choose the best ones.

For all intents and purposes, if you have decided to have your mix to be professionally mastered, it always has to be properly prepared. Here are four essential things you need to do first.

If the sound quality of the track doesn’t satisfy you at the mixing stage, you shouldn’t hope that mastering will fix everything. If so, it is better not to start mastering but devote more time to the mixing stage.

Before sending your track for mastering, you will need to correct problems in the mix balance and enhance the specific acoustic characteristics. The process involves working with the volume and decoration of the mix. You should include the addition of expanding equalization, the use of compression, limiting, etc.

You should also consider the sounding of each individual track and the overall sound of the tracks in the album when they are played in order. Is their sound consistent with each other? Do they have the same volume? The listener shouldn’t adjust the volume when switching from track to track. You have to pay more attention to the sequence of the sound of the individual tracks among themselves.

However, it doesn’t mean that you can simply use one preset on all the tracks so they sound the same. Instead, you need to adjust the difference between the tracks and save (or even strengthen) the character of each of them. The correct approach is individual settings for each track, without forgetting about the overall picture of the album.

The final step is to prepare a track or album for download, release, or reproduction. Export settings may depend on the preferred transfer format. In the case of a CD, the track is converted to 16 bit / 44.1kHz audio, using resembling and sometimes dithering. Also, the track may be provided by additional meta-information specific to recording on a CD.

In the case of vinyl, your track must be in WAV or AIFF format with a sampling frequency of 48,000Hz. Take a note that while recording on a digital CD, the sound will most likely remain the same, but on the vinyl, the instruments may sound completely different from the original media.

For distribution on the web, you may need additional volume settings to convert to AAC, MP3, or High-Res audio.