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Submitting mixes for Compilation. Question


Venerated Member
I recentley had to mix/record 5 bands in 2 weeks, for a local compilation.
One thing that bothered me was that I couldn't decide what my levels should be, for submitting. For each track. I wanted to give them a 24bit track with peaks at -4 and an rms of about 18-16. But something scared me.

When I was a kid, my first band was asked to be on a comp and after speaking with the guy who was putting it out, he assured me that the Comp would be mastered. So we submitted an unmastered track.
Big mistake. The track before ours had been mastered before hand and was almost twice as loud. (after listening to the final product) Bummer!

So, out of fear I smashed my mixes to get them as loud as I could. They sound great still, but not the way I'd like them to sound. I suck at mastering. :cry:

I can't seem to get my levels passed -14RMS without it turning to shit or starting to sound smeared with digitiz. Not to mention my room isn't completely tuned in and I'm worried about the mixes translating. I didn't have a lot of time for trial and error.

It seems like the people who are putting the comps out like to skimp on the Mastering, because it's the last link in the chain and they usually run out of money by then.

So how should I deal with submitting songs to COMPs?
Any ideas?



Venerated Member
Some times when I'm producing a band - the label might want a rough-mix of singles for magazine compilations and such. This sucks in two ways...

First, it's in the middle of production, and so now you've got to do an ok mix of a song in 2 hours that's going to be representative of the final thing, and you're not even done recording it :)

Second, the same thing that you mention... how are they treating it and who's it up against? So I always tell the label in that case to call the magazine in question and ask them if they master their compilations properly or not or what the hell they do with it?

If they master properly, I don't worry about it.. just let it sit at a level that the music sounds good at. If I get no good answers I smash the thing to shit going strong at -8!!! 8)


Established Member
What I always do is submit 2 tracks.
One will be the clean un-mastered mix and labeled as such. The other will be my half assed attempt at mastering which at the very least includes a pass through a volume maximizing plugin, and clearly labeled as such.
Sometimes I'll also put up an mp3 in case they might need a \"portable\" mix.

That way there is no excuse. Not that there was any excuse for them to hose you like that. Not to mention it makes the label that put the comp out look like amateurs by not at least setting levels with a normalization or *something*

MASSIVE Mastering

Active Member
Communication is key on that one... Certainly, ask if it's going to be \"Mastered\" (as in, the modern version with all the bells and whistles) or just \"mastered\" (as in the traditional \"make a compliant production master\" version).

If it helps, I had to do a big, nasty, 20-some track compilation a few weeks ago. Every single track came in crushed - except one.

And I'll give you one guess which track sounded the best - *and* the *loudest* - at the end of the session...

Seriously though - You could tell the guy was a headroom freak (probably why we got along well enough that he's sending me the rest of his stuff soon). He knows the difference between \"good\" levels and \"really hot\" levels, pretends that -24dBRMS is 0dBVU (just like me!), and I think his mix peaked at -11dBFS.

It wasn't any surprise that his one one of the only tracks that sounded \"big time\" on the whole thing.
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