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Friday, 18 September 2015

Mastering a DJ Mix

Having been asked to do a fair bit of mastering recently, I thought i'd talk quickly about my approach to mastering a DJ mix. Hope this is useful, although definitely not the final word in how to do this, hopefully this will give you a good basic approach and a few ideas to boot.

1. Cut and Edit

Where suitable, cut the waveform up and edit each part so that that are relatively uniform in volume. Usually you can find a few spots in your mix where if you apply this method, it won't sound too disjointed.

2. EQ

I would next apply some gentle EQ. Remember you are working with material that has already been mastered, so your aim here is not to correct anything in any of the indiviudal tracks. Rather you just want to move the extreme low end material, where it gets inaudible to the human ear, so that it frees up a bit of headroom. Next I like to apply a high shelving boost between about 1kHz and 2kHz with a small amount of gain, just to reintroduce a touch of air to the mix, especially if it was recorded through an analogue DJ mixer. This just compensates for the recduction in high frequencies imparted onto the mix by any analogue equipment.

3. Gentle Compression

Next find a good quality mastering compressor. A very small amount of gain reduction, just to tame a few of the more prominent peaks is what you want to do here. Keep a slow attack and slow release setting on the compressor as you are doing this. Be extremely careful not to overcompress your material.

4. Limiting

Again, being careful and only appling a small amount of limiting is the aim here. Get a good quality limiter, and locate the loudest portion of the mix. Dial in some settings such that you never exceed about two decibels of gain reduction. This will ensure that the material in the mix is reaching it's maximum volume, but you (hopefully) wont be introducing distortion by over limiting.

5. Format

Make sure you are working in the correct format, and that you have converted your source material using the best possible method. If you are prepariong a mix for online distribution, then a 320kbps mp3 file should suffice. If it's to be put on a CD then you need to make sure you are working with a WAV that has a sample rate of 44.1kHz and a bit depth of 16bit, no less.

Once you've done the above you're ready to export the file, and tag or name the file as approapriate to prepare it for distribution.


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