Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. How long will I need in the studio?
This depends on many factors. If you are well prepared, know your material by heart and have played together as a band for a considerable length of time then you should be able to record and mix between 2 and 5 songs in a typical session of 8 hours (although in order to complete 5 songs the band would have to play Â‘live' as apposed to recording each individual track). The professionalism of the band members and the sound engineer will also affect how much gets done in a day.
The number of days you need will ultimately depend on how many songs you want to record. Remember that recording and mixing always takes a lot longer than you imagine so make sure to budget sufficiently for this. A full album can take anywhere up to 14 full days studio time with approximately half of this time being spent on the mix down. For this reason you, as a band must be as perfect as possible with regard to your musicianship otherwise you may end up paying for extra days to finish the mixing stage.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. 1. The music business is very expensive on every tier.
2. There is no piece of equipment that can take the place of a trained ear.
3. When seeking out a collaborating partner such as a producer/engineer, make sure they have vision, passion, experience & the creative ability to achieve your goals.
4. Have fun! The business of music is very stressful. The best times should be in the studio!
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. Ask friends and other musicians if they have used the studio or if they know anyone who has. Personal recommendations are a good start as musicians will not promote a studio who did an unsatisfactory job on their recordings. If someone has used the studio you're interested in ask if you can listen to the recordings they produced.
Overall you are looking for a studio to suit your needs that offer rates within your budget, the services of an experienced sound engineer, an excellent reputation for their sound quality and professionalism and helpful, friendly staff that will make your recording experience worthwhile and productive.
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. How to Prepare for CD Mastering
1. Call each company you will be using for your production, and map out a schedule... all the way up to delivery date. It's easy for us to focus on the moment and forget the big picture. Some of our clients rushed to get their CD mastered, only to have delays and complications with graphics, printing, pressing, you name it. Get a calendar and chart what needs to be done so that everything is in sync leading up to getting your CDs in hand.
2. Book the mastering session 1 to 2 weeks in advance, so that you have time to think about any last minute questions or ideas that you want to bring up in the session.
3. Label your masters (CDR's, DVD-R's [don't use DVD+R's], etc.) with an identifying number or name burning them (the top is more fragile than the bottom) using a soft (medium Sharpie) pen - evenly spaced around the top of the disc for better spin balance. DO NOT USE PAPER LABELS. Keep all CDRs clean! noting the track ID numbers if you're using audio CDRs (24 bit data files are better). Include a listing (on paper) of the songs on each of master, or a folder directory if you're sending a hard drive or Separations. Carefully write on CDRs before burning them (the top is more fragile than the bottom) using a soft (medium Sharpie) pen - evenly spaced around the top of the disc for better spin balance. DO NOT USE PAPER LABELS. Keep all CDRs clean!
4. Send a printed song order for the final mastered CDR with references to the correct final takes, and their locations on your mix masters . Song order can be changed if you like and it's easy to do. Your master isn't done until you say it's done! If you have labelled each master, you can note which song comes from which mix CDR. IMPORTANT: , album title, UPC code (optional), artist name, record company etc. in your list of things to give to the mastering studio. IInclude your ISRC codes, album title, UPC code (optional), artist name, record company etc. in your list of things to give to the mastering studio.
5. Make a list of what you think needs processing and editing on your songs. After comparing your mixes with commercially released CDs, you may feel that in your mixes, one song needs more bass, and another one needs more vocal. If you're in a group, have a meeting to listen to all the songs to make notes. Note: If you find that the bass player wants more bass, the drummer wants more drums, the vocalist wants more vocals, and the guitarist wants more... you get the picture....... Order pizza, and let the mastering engineer lend some suggestions. One of the benefits of mastering is that someone with a completely objective point of view will be listening with fresh ears and a knowledge of the "sonic marketplace".
Good idea: Make alternate mixes - vocal up 1/2 dB, kic up 1 dB, or whatever variations you may be concerned about. Much better idea: Bring in or send in Separations in for mastering (SDII files are preferred, but not required). This is the newest and most powerful mastering format available today. Include a "housekeeping" listing your concerns in your separations folder. What have you debated about while you've been mixing? Check out more mixing tips and some great EQ and compression suggestions.
6. KNOW YOUR BUDGET . Ask up front for a cost estimate, but realise, it is almost impossible to predict how much it will take for your project (studio rates and policies here). Years ago we had a project where the cymbal crashes were just too loud every time they hit. We did level correction on each crash, and it took more than an hour of unexpected time - but the result was fantastic! Today using Separations, that issue would have taken 5 minutes to resolve. (Even before Separations, we were quite ascertive doingcreative things in mastering.)
7. Bring (or send) a couple of commercial CDs with you to the mastering session that you LOVE the sound of . This gives an exact reference of your taste. You have listened to your favorite CDs many times at home (and in the car) and you're familiar with the tone and overall level. Our system is level-matched so that we can compare your project with the commercial albums, and you'll know exactly how your sound compares next to anyone you pick. Interesting: One customer brought in about five commercial CDs, all of which he thought sounded great. After we did some comparisons with his project, he was shocked to hear that they all sounded different -- and most he didn't like! He heard differences on our system that he had never heard on his own. This is common, since many home systems have their own "tone" which tends to mask the differences in sonic qualities on different albums.
8. When you receive your first master/reference CDR, don't just rush back to the studio where you mixed it for your first listen. Check it out on home systems, boom boxes, the car, clubs, etc. You've been accustomed to hearing it in the studio, and it's going to sound different than you were used to in that "creative cocoon". What's more important is the real world. Take notes about what you hear. The mastering engineer can easily recall your session and make any changes you would like. Every mastering studio makes these kinds of changes from time to time, and it should be very cost-effective to do so.
9. Be sure you have an idea of how you want the song titles, album title etc. to read in the CD Text - and talk to your pressing plant ahead of time about any video files or web site links you want included.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. We take pride in what we do. We deliver quality service at affordable pricing. We have no sales team so our quality of work must speaks for itself. We strive to deliver perfection with every project so that our clients remain loyal... You cannot put a price on repeat business.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. Helping people accomplish there goals.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. Computer Technology
Q. What is your greatest strength?
Q. What are you currently working on improving?
A. We are working towards expanding the business. We opened in 2007 and now we feel that its time to move to a bigger location so that we can better service our customers. In our new location we will have a live room were bands can record together. That same room will also be used as a rehearsal space. We will have a bigger isolation booth so we can keep up with are growing Voice Over Production.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. How Much Mixing Headroom Should I leave For Mastering?
There are two factors to consider when exporting your final mix for mastering:
1. Peak level - The absolute highest level the output signal reaches. 2. Dynamic range - The range between the highest level and the lowest level of the output signal.
PEAK LEVEL: Most of the music we master peaks a -3db to -4db. This is perfect. We also get a lot of music that peaks at -5db to -6db. This works fine too.
The number one mistake is audio files that are too hot and clipping. For more information on the term 'clipping' - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipping_(audio)
Never go over 0db on the master fader, AND never go over 0db on any of your individual instrument or vocal tracks. We receive songs that are under 0db on the peak level meter, but the vocals are distorted because the individual vocal tracks were mixed at +3db (over 0db). Nothing should ever go over 0db on any channel of the entire mix.
DYNAMIC RANGE: What's most important when getting your mix ready for mastering is leaving some dynamic range. When looking at the master output meter, a normal mix we get in might peak at -4db when the snare or kick hits, then drop to -7db or -8db for the rest of the song. You have roughly 3db to 4db of dynamic range in this example. If you have 5db or 6db, that's normal too. If there's a big kick drum, even 8db dynamic range is common. When you look at the .wav file this creates, it has nice peaks and valleys.
But sometimes a client compresses and normalizes the final mix and we get in a song that peaks at -0db and drops to -1db (or less), having only 1db of dynamic range. Basically, the main output level meter never moves! Since the transients of the instruments and vocals have all been cut off, there's nothing left for the mastering studio to work with. The .wav file will look like a solid black line. No peaks or valleys, just a black line.
HERE'S WHY THIS IS A PROBLEM: When a client compresses and limits their songs before mastering, leaving 1DB of dynamic range, if it was all done correctly, that would be one less step in the mastering process we'd have to do. But this is very rarely the case. It's usually just a hack job. The bass and low end is loud but muffled, and the high end is much sharper than it should be. Then the meters are pushed to the limit and the top is cutoff (limited). So now we can't phase correct the bass for clarity and give it the "correct" punch, and if we try to reduce the high end on an already compressed/limited song, it just compresses it more. Forget about adding that clarity and sparkle. We can't add anything.
A lot of people do this because they think in the mixing process they have to get that "radio" quality PUNCH in their bass (if it's a hip hop song) and that super sharp clarity. This is all done during the mastering process.
Listen to a few of our "before" samples. Notice how all of the before samples have NO bass punch and are slightly muffled. These songs are like raw clay. We can mold them into great final masters. But if you start forming the clay yourself and let it get hard, you're going to pretty much be stuck with whatever you messed up. We can only work with whatever you didn't touch.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. What Does A Record Producer Do?
A record producer is an individual working within the music industry, whose job is to oversee and manage the recording (i.e. "production") of an artist's music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, selecting songs and/or musicians, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, and supervising the entire process through mixing and mastering. Producers also often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules, and negotiations.
Today, the recording industry has two kinds of producers: executive producer and music producer; they have different roles. While an executive producer oversees a project's finances, a music producer oversees the creation of the music.
The music producer's job is to create, shape, and mold a piece of music. The scope of responsibility may be one or two songs or an artist's entire album â€“ in which case the producer will typically develop an overall vision for the album and how the various songs may interrelate.
In the US, before the rise of the record producer, someone from A&R would oversee the recording session(s), assuming responsibility for creative decisions relating to the recording.
With today's relatively easy access to technology, an alternative to the record producer just mentioned, is the so-called 'bedroom producer'. With today's technological advances, it is very easy for a producer to achieve high quality tracks without the use of a single instrument; that happens in urban music (like hip hop, rap, etc.). Many established artists take this approach.
In most cases the music producer is also a competent arranger, composer, musician or songwriter who can bring fresh ideas to a project. As well as making any songwriting and arrangement adjustments, the producer often selects and/or gives suggestions to the mixing engineer, who takes the raw recorded tracks and edits and modifies them with hardware and software tools and creates a stereo and/or surround sound "mix" of all the individual voices sounds and instruments, which is in turn given further adjustment by a mastering engineer. The producer will also liaise with the recording engineer who concentrates on the technical aspects of recording, whereas the executive producer keeps an eye on the overall project's marketability.