Hey all, wanna say happy holidays firstly.

I am a trance DJ and I arrange sets in ableton, my latest project is my 2009 Trance Year Mix, similar to Armin van Buuren's yearly year mixes. Therefore, lots of transitions, overlays, and mashups are expected.

I would hire a professional, but right now I do not have the money, or I wouldn't be asking for help in a mastering forum . So lets get to it.

My current master rack consists of SSL E Channel (Waves Mercury), SSL G, PSP MixPressor, MixSaturator, PSP Xenon.

I have a few questions on this actually. I want to achieve similar sound to Armin's recently released 2009 year mix. Overall, the mix sounds very clean, low end isn't muddy, basslines come through, the highs are bright, the click of the kick stands out the most, and the snares are wide smack in your face. Transitions are also extremely clean and leveled. There also seems to be more 'space' between the instruments.

I take one of the songs (original) he plays in his mix and compare to his year mix, armin's version sounds a lot better. I realize I probably won't achieve his sound because he used a "professional", but I really just want to get pointed in the right direction.

I will attach clips to so you guys can hear the differences yourselves but first question.

1. I have always done mastering on the first pass, not exporting out as .wav to work with first. I know this is not the best way, so I want to export the set as a wav first so I can work with it. Would I lower the volume of all the individual tracks so the peak doesn't exceed -3 or -6db, reduce master volume, or brickwall it with limiter?

2. What does a DJ set typically need in terms of mastering? I mean the tracks themselves are individually mastered already. I already use a compressor to glue the transitions, mashups, and overlays together, and I know how to use a limiter. Does it need EQing? I know in Armin's mix, it definitely sounds like he boosted some frequencies.

3. Here are the samples, the track is called Cressida - Onyric (Stoneface & Terminal Remix). I arranged and overlay-ed the same way Armin did in his year mix so you can compare. There is a big difference, his highs are crisp and punch through (esp that snare). How can I achieve this effect? or make it closer to sounding like this?

Onyric Original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BL0TI2YWqQY
Onyric Armin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk7OQWAn9Z4