What Amount of Headroom Should You Leave For Audio Mastering?

Audio Engineering What Amount of Headroom Should You Leave For Audio Mastering?

The amount of headroom you should reserve before mastering music after audio mixing is subjective. What matters the most is to avoid hard clipping i.e. making sure you are not going over 0 dBFS on the master fader.

However, some sound engineers may recommend having your final mix peaking at -6 dB, -12 dB or even -3 dB.

But still, that doesn't mean much since all those arbitrary dB levels are less likely to result in audio distortion. This is why in practice, there isn't any 'best dB level for mixing music.'

Your major concern is to stick to whatever system you are used to in your workflow. At the same time, you have to bear in mind that music is a form of art, while the technical side of things starts when things exceed the digital domain ceiling of 0 dBFS.

Also, remember that the process of leaving too much headroom before audio mastering can be sorted out by increasing the level (gain) just like that.

The opposite is true (i.e. attenuating the gain a little bit were necessary) given that, the track isn't clipping because you can't fix audio distortion when mastering music!

In summary, you can either go with your final mix peaking at -6 dB or -3 dB. That's fine already.

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