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"How loud should my mixes be before mastering"

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

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This question seems to keep popping up.

I’ve read some comments where people suggest ‘As long as your mix is not clipping your good”. They seem to be referencing how the Mastering engineer can somehow always use Clip gain to lower the track.

We need to clear some things up first.

- If you send a Mastering engineer a wave file that is one big sausage, forget it.

- Lowering the clip gain by 3 db. does indeed lower the headroom but not the LRA.

- Loudness is printed with the export. It is similar to distortion or artifacts. If you lower the clip gain, it would indeed lower the distortion and artifacts but they would still be there. Just 3 db. lower.

Let’s take a look at an examples.

Photo #1- The Peak has been reduced by 3db. The lufs has also been reduced by 3db. However, one thing that has not changed at all is the LRA. This has remained the same (0.6 LU) throughout the clip gain reduction process.

Photo #2- Is the original clip as exported.

Using the clip gain can sometimes be the equivalent to turning down the volume knob on your car radio. It’s already juiced and all you’re doing is making the overall juiced mix a little bit lower.

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