At Capsule Labs, we get a lot of questions about this, and as musicians and perfectionists, we're very specific about how we like the pre-masters delivered, so we can ensure the best possible sound for our client's music.
Pre-masters should be exported or bounced with no compression or limiting on the master bus. It is also important to drop your peak level 2db below the digital zero, in order to allow us to do any stereo level adjustment before applying EQ, compression and limiting. This is especially important when mastering for vinyl, where a slight difference in left and right levels can greatly affect the quality of the groove being cut.
We recommend that you work on your final mix with slight compression or limiting in order to preview the mastered sound, but export your premasters without those effects.
As musicians and producers, aside from being audio engineers, we take extra care of all the details that will make your music sound its best. Welcome to Capsule Labs!