File Preparation

What´s important when you export your files from your DAW to send them over to someone else

There are a couple things to go through before uploading your files to make sure we can get the most out of it.

When it comes to mixing or mastering, I need different types of files. For mixing I need all your tracks which contains all recordings and virtual instruments as audio files. When it´s about mastering I need the final mixdown of your mix as a stereo audio file. In both cases use file like +.wav for example. Not any compressed file like *.mp3.

Recordings, Clips, Tracks, Stems, Mixdown ... what?

Here is a quick overview of the terms and what they actually mean:

Steps to prepare you files

Sample Rate & bit depth: 44.1 kHz 24 bit at least

A little bit technically but important: check your sample rate and bit depth. For highest quality make sure you record at least with 44.1 kHz sample rate and 24 bit depth. Higher would be also okay, but if possible not lower than that.

* the graphic is not all the way correct but helps a little to understand what´s going on without diving too deep into technicalities.

About 6db of headroom

First of all make sure that no channel is clipping, that means the meters of your channel are not in the red or above 0db. To get the most out of your recordings it would be best when every channel has about 6db of headroom, what means the meters are peaking at about -6db.

Turn off plug-ins - at least dynamics and such

Depending on the service you expect it would make sense to turn dynamic plug-ins like compressors and such off before exporting your tracks. Check your meters again after turning off these plug-ins.

When it's not needed necessarily for your specific sound it can make sense to turn off equalizers too.

In every case there should be no plugin on your master bus and also about 6db of headroom too.


Set the same starting point for every track

When the points above are set up correctly make sure to use the same starting point for every track to export. Most DAW's offer to set locators for this. Set your locators that all tracks are within this area and leave a little bit of space to not cut sounds that are fading out. After you have set your locators don't touch at least the starting locator again until all tracks are exported.

Make sure you export at the same sample rate and bit depth you have recorded with.

Name it mindful

Name your tracks and (or at least) the exported files short but mindful. This is not the place for long comments and such. Name it what it is and that´s it. This helps to keep an overview. Too much information does not always help.

Quick checklist: