I'm currently working on a track right now and just more recently ran into a thread here about someone talking about improving their mixing skills. One of the posters there (can't recall their name, sorry) was mentioning about leaving some breathing room on their racks for their instruments when making their master cut, and so forth (?).... Just curious, but when you're building your instruments and stacking them and your effects on the racks, do you leave the master out gain below 0 (to, say, -3dB), or do you lower the gain for each instrument below to that point? Is this supposed to be done during just the mastering phase? To give some insight on how I do things, I've not done any compressing yet and don't have any compressors/limiters on my racks. I've only started equalizing some sounds. B/c my system isn't exactly a beast, I'm forced to do a lot of mixdowns and cutting w/ custom-made samples I record in other sessions, so I tend to do equalizing in "steps" (after figuring out just about where I want the instrument to sit at on the frequency range, padding room aside) i.e do a loop, mix it down, import it, cut it, throw some effects on it, equalize, and repeat (maybe). I'm not bothering with compressing and limiting until most of the track is set in place. I always keep the volume on each instrument on their racks @ 0dB, in case you're wondering. But back to my original question....given the way I have to do things, when I do have to push for the final equalizing and compressing/balancing etc., with my final samples all set, do I set their rack gains individually to around -3dB or so, or do I just do that for the master rack and leave the instrument racks at 0dB?