Get The Most From Your Master - Vol 5: Crank Your Monitors

At some point before you decide your premaster is finished and ready for mastering, make sure it sounds great with the monitors turned up LOUD. Your ears can handle the levels in short bursts and it’s worthwhile as it reveals things you won’t notice when mixing quiet. A good headphone blast will suffice if your neighbors will call the cops.

If at any point something happens in the mix that makes you want to turn the volume down because it hurts or just plain sounds bad, fix it.

Common causes of ear bleeding sounds are filter sweeps and anything overly dynamic in the 1k-8k area. De-essers, dynamic eq’s and compressors are your friends when working to tame them.

If you’re making club music, your fans are primarily going to hear the tunes at those levels so you’ve got to optimize! It also will help to ensure that less destructive processes will be happening in mastering.

Obviously don’t spend too much time monitoring at that level or you’ll just be shortening the length of your career as an audio professional. Also, the longer you listen at loud volumes, the more your perception of what’s real is skewed. Take regular breaks.

- Mike Bell @ Darkart Mastering