Are your mixes ready for mastering ?
Lately I have seen a trend in which people tend to believe that the hotter the mix is the louder the master would get! Depending on which mastering engineer does the work, it may not be true!
Properly set up mastering houses have access to specific tools that allow us to “seamlessly” raise the loudness without any apparent loss of punch (sometimes the master even feels punchier).
I personally like a lot of punch in the mix and feel that proper control of each element in the mix is the secret to a loud, clear and punchy final master.
Usually that means no limiter on the master mix bus and the proper amount of compression. You may ask me what is the proper amount; well, it’s relative to each song but as long as the mix remains punchy and the overall dynamic lead by the arrangement is respected we are in good shape! Don’t try to make it loud, that’s the ME’s job to make it musical and sound as loud as you want it!
Levels can be around -10 rms for Pop, Hiphop and R&B, -12/14 for Rock , -8/10 for more aggressive rock genre, -18 for folk, acoustic stuff, -8/10 for EDM but really the most important thing is that it sounds how you want the mix to sound.
A good practice is to send the files as Wav/AIFF at minimum 44.1/24 bits up to whichever sample rate and 32 floating bits.
As most of my colleagues do, I guess I am always happy to get ( alongside the main mix ) the Ref mix (usually a limited version) so I can see what the client has approved and what you like in terms of loudness.