Easiest Way to Set Mix Levels For Mastering

by Andre Gonsalves

If your song’s peak volume is 0, meaning the loudest point in the song is hitting 0 (or higher) you’ll want to do a little mixing before sending it off to mastering.

The easiest way to get your mix levels right for mastering is to drop the volume level on your faders by -6. So for example, if you’re bass is coming in at -8, lower the volume on it until it is – 14.

If you’re vocals are sitting pretty at -3, drop it to -9. Basically you want to take whatever level each channel is at when you’ve got the song mixed and sounding good and drop it by -6.

Here’s a fancy math formula which will either make me look smarter than I really am or just confuse you even more.

Volume of channel – 6 = Happy Mastering Engineer

Why -6? You can really choose any number below -3, but I find -6 is easy to subtract from any number and at least helps provide some headroom for mastering (it is certainly better than 0).

When it is all said and done you should have a song that has a peak volume of -6 (assuming that your songs peak volume was 0 before), which will make it suitable for high quality mastering -thus making your mastering engineer very happy because they can than do a really good job for you.

Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering, which he helped found in 2012. For the last 10 years, he has made it his mission to empower aspiring artists and musicians from around the world. You can see more of Andre's writings on our Blog.


  1. Let say of I made a great sounding mix of over 30 channels, but the master level is peaking around 0db, so before I send it out for Mastering, Is there any particular disadvantage to simply dropping the Master level to peak -6db max, instead of going through every channel?

    • Hi W,

      Great question. You could do that BUT the program itself is amplifying the sound via the mixer. If we’re sending a song to mastering, we may not want to impart the “amplifying sound” to our mix. So if you just keep the mix channels at the same level and lower the master level only to peak at -6db that is really no different than me taking your “original mix” at 0db and then lowering it myself to -6db. For some songs it is possible to do this without affecting the sound. I personally find it sounds better and it gives me more control to have the mix levels lowered between -6db and -10db.

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