What should I do to prepare my files for mixing?
We won’t be able to go over every detail involved with mix preparation here, but here are some general principles that will really help and get you pointed in the right direction:
- Make sure you are happy with the performance. For the most part, it is best if you can have the parts performed in a way that don’t need editing of “fixed in the mix.” There are times that some editing will be needed to tighten things up a bit, reduce noise, etc., and if this is the case make sure this is done in the pre-production stage before sending your tracks to be mixed. You can save a lot of money by having the prep work done before a mixing stage, and most importantly, it gives the mixing engineer a chance to jump right into the mixing and focus on getting a good sounding mix instead of focusing on fixing issues with the tracks. This will significantly help to get the best results.
- If there are splits and cuts in tracks, make sure to use crossfades to eliminate abrupt sounds and clicks/pops.
- Send your tracks dry, without any effects on them, (such as EQ, compression, reverb, delay, etc.). Often times it is easy to get attached to certain plugins or settings, but sending tracks that have been processed can limit the engineers flexibility. Note: If vocals need pitch/timing correction, it is ok to send tracks with the corrected vocals. This should be done as part of the pre-production phase and completed before sending over tracks to be mixed.
- Send over all of your tracks at the same time when they are all ready. This will speed up the work-flow for the mix engineer and will avoid having to remix parts of a song later. Adding something new can often times change the tonal balance of certain parts of a song and will need to be mixed remixed.
- Label tracks with the track number followed by the instrument name, for example “01 – Kick”, “02 – Snare”, “03 – Toms”, “04- Overheads”, “05 – Guitar”, “06 – Bass”, “07 Vocals”, “08 – Backup Vocals”, etc. Make sure to include the “0,” for example “01” instead of just “1”. This will help ensure tracks are sorted properly. Track numbers that are 10 or greater do not need a “0” placed in front. If you are having multiple songs mixed, keep the same pattern for naming tracks consistent between all songs.
- If using amp sims, include dry tracks as well.
- Make sure all tracks start at the very beginning of the project/song, even if there is just silence at the beginning. This will help ensure all tracks line up properly.
- Double check to make sure all files are included.
- Make sure stems are in a WAV format. We prefer the sample rate and bit depth to be the same as what the song was recorded at. If you have not already tracked the parts, we prefer any sample rate at or above 44.1k, and bit-depth at 24 or 32 bit. 88.2k, 24-bit is our preferred setting.
- If there are multiple songs, put each song in its own folder/project.
- Include tempo maps, midi maps (if applicable), etc., and include any special notes about the song that you would like to be considered.
Why do I need a custom drum part?
There are many reasons why you may need a custom drum part and would want to utilize our studio drummer. Some of the common reasons are because often times songwriters, or guitar players and vocalist, and are not drummers themselves. This makes it take a lot longer for them to write songs and can take their focus away from what they are really good at. Sometimes they artists can make decent parts, or use loops, but the problem is if the parts were not done by a real drummer they can sound digital and phony really easy. And sometimes even if a drummer is programming midi drums, they may not know all of the features on how to make the drums sound authentic. You also want parts that were written specifically for your song, not just random beats and fills to keep time with the song, but something that actually compliments what you have written. If you are not a drummer, make it easy on yourself and let us know. We can help.
Can you make everything sound good?
While we do try our best to make every song the best it can be, the short answer to the question is No. Different musicians are at different skill levels. People who are controlling the recording are at different skill levels as well. Some have better sounding equipment and some have more experience and knowledge about how to work with gear than others. All of these things (and more) contribute to the final sound quality. If you want an honest opinion before starting a project, we can review your project beforehand and see if it is ready to go, or give some pointers on how to help it sounding as good as it can.
What is your turnaround time?
It depends on a few things, but we try to get your projects back to you as quick as possible without taking shortcuts. Sometimes mixing can go pretty quick, and sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to get it just right. We do our best to have individual mixes and custom drum tracks back to you within 7-10 days. Sometimes it is a bit faster, sometimes a bit longer. But we do our best to try and make sure things are complete within a reasonable time frame.
How do you record drums?
We do a combination of a few things. We typically start with our electric drum kit, and then do manual editing and clean-up from there. This is how we have found a way to get the best sounds and tones, the most creative parts, and a nice tight sound. We can also do manual composition as well. In the end, we do what we believe will get the best results.
Should I track with a metronome or will it sound more natural without?
For the vast majority of modern rock music you should use a metronome/click track most of the time. Tight timing is often the difference between sounding “ok” and sounding great. There are a few bands out there with drummers who are experienced and tight enough that it isn’t always required, but this is an extremely rare case in a studio. We could probably write a book on this topic alone, and yes, things sound “more natural” without, but if you want something that sounds more modern and “professional,” stick with using a metronome. This will also be a huge benefit during the mixing process. If you are having trouble playing along with a click track let us know and we can offer a few suggestions.
How do I know if I am doing it right?
There is a lot to learn, but the best thing you can do if you have any questions is just ask us and we will try and help. We typically don’t do the mix prep for you, but we will help try and steer you in the right direction. If you do need a lot of help with mix preparation, in some cases we can help at an hourly rate, however we do try to focus most of what we do on the mixing aspect.