Mastering a recorded DJ mix....

Hi everyone…

I record every time I mix at home and listen back when driving about.

How do you all master your mixes and make them sound all the same volume etc…

I used the method in this video…is there a better one?

thank you


Automatic gain control is a bit of a tricky thing. The cheap (and free) options often use a rather meager algorithm. Platinum Notes uses a better one, but since it looks at average levels too, I think it has a bit more trouble with longer mixes.

You could use a professional DAW with a good mastering plug-in, but we are way outside the scope of simple improving your mix tape sound quality.

In essence, you can win the most in preparation. I personally run all my tracks through Platinum Notes to get the overall loudness the same (more or less), I switch of auto-level in my software (if it has that) and then I gain stage the entire sound path (deck gain, mixer channel fully up, cross-fader fully to one side, master level the same as channel level. Everything should be set to 0 dB average, with +3db peaks (can be a tad higher if high dynamic tracks, but most modern dance music has been compressed up the wahoo and you’ll be glad to get 3dB dynamic range). Test record a bit with a 0dB sound output and set your recording software to reflect the same level.

It can get slightly tricky here. In analogue recording, there is quite a bit of headroom above 0dB signal levels. Quality will deteriorate as the levels get higher, but not too much in the beginning. Digital recording on the other hand technically cuts off at 0dB and the clipping is audible (and visible in the waveform). So experiment with this.

Once you set everything correctly you can just mix with full channel faders open (be sure to test levels with two track playing and the cross-fader in the middle too. Keep an eye on the channel faders and use channel gain to correct (slowly) if some tracks still are too loud. This should only be minimal changes btw.

What you’ll end up with is a nice recording that has the right sound level and shouldn’t need much, if any, post-production.

Just my three cents, as usual.


I drop the mix into Cubase, slice sections based on level, bring all levels to where they need to be (by ear, not visually as visual representation can be deceiving), then rejoin them, merge, and work on bringing the entire mix up to where it needs to be. You need to remember that all of the tracks you’re playing (for the most part) are mastered themselves. You really only need to focus on ensuring volume and perceived loudness are the same throughout.

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Unfortunately not all mastering is done the same. So in a mix you will involuntarily be confronted with various mastering strategies. There are specific mastering tools that let you analyze a mix or compilation of tracks and re-master them to be more uniform.

Of course, these are not cheap/free programs and they require quite a bit of study to be used correctly.

So at the end of the day, for the average DJ, volume/loudness are the two things to watch for most.

I tend not to as I want to hear my mix as it was done originally, but when I do need to for special situations I mostly only use a volume envelope and on some extreme aberrant effects peaks an occasional limiter use on a tiny slice selection or two on just those spots if an envelope won’t work as well there. Music does not need to be the same peaks or even average loudness all the time, though. It doesn’t even need to be continuous. Peak metering, by the way, is useless outside of just preventing clipping.

When I do mess with them in post, my top peaks are left below -3dB to prevent intersample problems in later processing and playback as per Apple’s mastering guidelines. If it’s not some special situation or tweaking transitions volume wasn’t even necessary, I will only adjust in 6dB increments the entire mix as a whole. In all likelihood, though, I’m already between -6dBFS and -3dBFS on my peaks, in which case back to not doing anything to it except perhaps trimming the ends.

I did use a clip repair and expander recently to fix a long mix that I started going into the red at the end. I think I was running into Wirecast and had done a one-off with its own volume boosted, so while my mixer was fine, Wirecast’s recording was clipping. I never did that again and put Wirecast back down to +0, but clip repair and expander did help a little.


Fully agree. All this is, imho, typically beyond the scope of most DJ’s. Heck, mastering engineer is even a specialty amongst sound engineers.

And unfortunately most “automated” tools out there do more damage than good, I think.

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Interesting guys. I learned a couple of things here, thx :slight_smile: :+1:

And it took me a min and a half to notice the cat :joy: