Use whatever processing you need on the master bus to achieve the sound you are looking for, but please leave the limiter or maximizer off. If you want your record to be loud, please note that it is usually easier to get a loud, punchy and clean master if the mix is not already peak limited.
If you do want to use limiters or maximizers on the mix bus, then feel free to do so. Use whatever means necessary to get the sound that you want – this is art after all. If you want to, you can always send us two versions; one maximized, and one clean. We can then use your maximized version as a reference while working with the clean version. More often than not, you will get an even louder and cleaner master in the end, if that’s what you want.
Make sure that the mixes aren’t audibly clipping, unless that’s what you’re after. Keep the peak levels below 0 dBFS.
If the mixes will end up on vinyl, then you might want to be extra careful with excessive sibilance and harshness. Use a deesser where needed, and keep the upper-mids in check. We will most likely address these things during mastering, as the things that are problematic on vinyl often won’t sound that good anyway, but you will often get the best result by taking care of this already in the mix.
Also note that wide or panned sub-bass might sound different and narrower after the vinyl master has been cut. Check your mix in mono and make sure that important elements in that area are still present. There is no need to make the low end mono beforehand, but the cutting engineer might choose to reduce the width of the low-end while cutting, so you might be up for a surprise if your mix and/or arrangement relies on wide-stereo bass.
Other than that, just make sure that the mixes sound as close to how you want them to as possible. Take the time to check all of the exported files before sending them to us. Listen carefully for any clicks or dropouts, and check that the beginning or end hasn’t been cut off. We will take it from there.