Q: We’re finishing up the mixes for our album, and we really like the sound we are getting using our compressor on the stereo mixes. We’re going to send the album off to have it mastered. Will the mastering engineer be able to use our compressed versions?
A: The simple answer is, yes, he will be able to use your compressed stereo mixes. But — and this is a big but — the question is whether those compressed mixes will give him what he needs to create the best possible sound for your tracks. When a mastering engineer receives compressed mixes, his or her hands are somewhat tied when it comes to further dynamics processing.
We would probably include two versions of each mix, one with compression, one without, along with a note explaining what you like about the compressed version.
Then, the mastering engineer can choose to use either your compressed version or the uncompressed version; whichever will give him or her the best starting point for a great sounding final master that incorporates the sound that you desire.