Mixing and Mastering

My mixing and mastering styles both strive for balance and clarity. My goal is to retain all the wonderful dynamics captured in your raw tracks, placing your music at a competitive volume without being overly compressed. I mix and master using Cubase Pro 8, as well as great sounding mixing and mastering plugins by brands like Steinberg, Focusrite and IK multimedia. I prefer to use the T-racks mastering suite, using high quality sounding modules like the Linear Phase EQ, Quad Image, Vintage Compressor Model 670, and the Brickwall Limiter. You can sample some of my most recent work in the player below.

Preparing your music for mastering

All music sent to be mastered must be in uncompressed WAV format, preferably at the same sample rate and bit depth you used to record your project (typically 24 or 16 bit). It is recommended that you do not send files with any sort of “master bus” style compression, limiting, or stereo imaging applied, as it gives me a lot less options. In addition, make sure your pre-master has ample headroom. I recommend sending audio that has peaks no higher than -6db on your master fader. This will leave me room for compression and other effects in the master stage.

With that said, your pre-master mixes should sound as close to what you’d want to hear to a finished project as you can get. Mastering isn’t meant to fix a bad mix, it is meant to take a well balanced mix to the next level. Before sending your songs to me, make sure your levels, panning, EQ, effects, and individual track compression are where you want them. If you are struggling with this, I do offering mixing services as well.

Preparing and sending me your music for mixing

If you use any form of Cubase to record your music, you can simply send me your entire project folder as a compressed zip file and I can open it and see your edits, takes, and even plugins that you may have used (assuming I have the same ones installed on my system). If you use another DAW, like Protools, Logic, or Garage Band, you will have to send me your individual track files as audio stems. This process can be somewhat time consuming, but is actually pretty easy to do. You can learn more about it here.

The biggest thing to remember when sending stems is the fact that all your tracks must be the exact same length or they wont line up correctly on my end (yes, even the 10 second guitar solo at the end of the song). I also prefer that you send only the raw recorded files, so make sure you deactivate all compression, EQ and effects before exporting your stems (I’ll use my own). If you are using an amp simulator plugin or a very specific effect (like a filter sweep or something) then feel free to export that particular stem with the effect applied. I use amplitube 3, however, and would be more than happy to process your uneffected DI’d guitar or bass if you wish.

Another thing to remember is to clearly name your individual stems so I know what they are. Examples include: lead guitar, kick drum, barking dog, kazoo solo… If you are sending more than one song to be mixed, place all the files of each song in separate folders, naming each folder as the name of the song. Once all your stems and folders are prepared, you can put everything in a compressed zip folder and email it to me.

FAQ

How much do you charge?

The minimum time I’d spend mastering a single song is one hour, though I could easily spend double or triple that on especially long or complex songs. The minimum that I’d ever spend on mixing  a song is three hours, and that’s for well-recorded music with simple and straight ahead arrangements. I’ve easily spent five, eight, or even ten hours or more on complex songs, especially those that need a lot of work editing out noise, fixing timing and tuning issues, or those with less traditional instrumentation or complex arrangements. My goal is to make your music sound awesome, with the time it takes to do so being a secondary consideration.

With this in mind, charging on an hourly basis would be great for me but not so much for the client. Instead, I’ve decided to offer my services on a “per job” basis. For mastering, $25 a song seems reasonable. For mixing, $75 per song seems more than fair. These aren’t quotes, however, just ballpark ideas. I understand what it is like to be a musician on a budget.  I am more than open to offering package deals and the like, simply contact me with the specifics of your project and I’ll give you a quote.

How do you transfer files?

My preferred working method is to transfer your audio via fileshare sites like google drive or dropbox (I personally prefer google drive). This allows me to receive your music as well as get the files back to you quickly and efficiently. Simply place all your clearly named tracks and songs in a compressed/zipped folder and send me that. Please re-read the “Preparing your music for mastering” and “Preparing and sending me your music for mixing” sections above to get the specifics.

What type/genre of music do you work with?

I’ll certainly be open to working with just about any type of music, though I have the most experience mixing and mastering rock, indie, singer-songwriter, folk, fusion, jazz, prog, and some forms of metal and experimental.

How long do your services take/ what’s your turnaround time?

Depending on my schedule, I should be able to master 1-3 songs within 24 to 48 hours. For mixing, please allow at least 1-3 days per song. Once again, everything is dependent of how long or complex your songs are and how much editing (timing and pitch correction, noise reduction, et cetera) needs done. I always like to re-evaluate your music after a nights rest with fresh ears, something that also adds a little time.

Can I send you raw DI recorded guitar and bass tracks?

Yes! I currently prefer amplitube 3 for all my direct-recorded guitar and bass tracks. I think Amplitube sounds awesome and works with a variety of music types. I am especially fond of the soldano, orange and GK bass amp modules I use. Sending me you raw DI guitar or bass track allows me to find use an amp model and settings that fit your song perfectly are are easily changed  should you want a different guitar tone.

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