Every great master starts with a great recording and a great mix!
If you are planning on having your project professionally mastered, here are a few helpful guidelines to follow.
Try not to over EQ your mix.
If you attempt to make it sound like a store bought CD
right out of the mixing room, it makes the mastering session that
much harder. It's part of the mastering engineer's job to make sure
that the overall EQ is fat, punchy and brilliant. Just concentrate
on delivering a good clean mix, even if it sounds a little dull to you.
Never put compression or EQ on the master fader.
Once again, this is part of the mastering engineer's job.
When your songs go to mastering, you want the full dynamics
and tone of your mix to be available to the mastering engineer.
Don't try to make your final mix as loud as you can possibly get it.
Never go into the red or clip the master fader.
This will usually cause your mix to distort.
Make your final mix output peak between -3 and -6 dbfs.
This will allow plenty of headroom during the mastering process.
Don't worry, it will be nice and loud once it's mastered.
After your mix is done, take some time away from it to let your ears rest.
You'll probably find some subtle little things that you want to
tweak that may have been overlooked due to ear burn.
Play your mixes on several different stereo systems
to determine how consistent they are.
This will usually expose some undesirable frequencies
that aren't as noticeable in your main mixing room.
Don't put fades on the beginnings and endings of your
songs in an attempt to clean them up.
That should all be done in mastering. However, sometimes you
get "pops" and "noises" on an individual track due to punch-ins
or edits so we do recommend that you clean those up.
Make your final mixes 16-32 bit / 44.1-192khz WAV or AIFF files.