1. Since 1999, I've worked with over 7,500 highly satisfied clients on over 40,000 songs in every genre imaginable. I've seen and done it all! And "I" do all the work on every project (not an intern or auto-preset software). Check out some of my before and after mastering samples.
2. I know how long it took to make your music, and I treat every project as if it were my very own. I do everything I can to make it sound the very best it can.
3. I point out major mixing errors and give free mixing advice to correct it. Regardless of who work with, if your mix isn't right, your masters won't be either. I help you get your mix right first! Note - 95% of the online companies will not do this. Many of them can't! This is one of many extras you get if you work with me.
4. I have all the top of the line hardware and software in my state of the art studio. Everything needed to deliver AMAZING results every time!
5. I'm the easiest person you'll ever work with! I quickly respond to all of your questions or concerns. I'm here to help you any way I can.
6. No hidden fees. I balance the song levels for the CD at no extra charge and allow two free adjustment sets (or remix uploads) per song. After that, it's only $5 per song. Note - Some companies charge the full price of mastering the song just for revisions, and purposely give you bad masters to start so you need revisions. This is a very common trick scam done by the big companies.
7. I require only 50% down to start your project. You pay the balance after you approve my work. I've been in this business long enough to know my work will sound better than 90% of the online recording studios out there, regardless of what they charge.
8. Full projects are finished quickly, within 3-5 business days. 24-hour rush service also available for $10 extra per song (mastering only). Unlike the big mastering companies who tell you a week and take a month! Sometimes they never even get to your project at all!!
What Is Audio Mastering?
I've seen a lot of different answers on the Internet to this simple question. Some were pretty technical and confusing.
A lot of people think audio mastering is only making all the songs on a CD a comparable volume level. Yes, this is done in mastering, but it's only one of many processes, not the only process.
The simple answer – Audio mastering is applying effects to a full song mix (on the stereo/main out bus), in efforts to replicate the sonic qualities of a well mastered industry standard commercial song.
In mastering, you're adding effects to the entire song as a whole. Effects such as compression, spectral enhancement, EQ, etc.
An example of a mastering process would be adding bass to a song you're listening to on your car stereo. When you add bass, the entire song gets it. You can't add bass to only the vocal track. This is comparable to a mastering EQ process because it affects the entire song.
What's The Difference Between Mixing And Mastering?
A lot of people new to music don't know the answer to this.
In music mixing, you're "mixing together" multiple audio tracks to make a single audio file song. Different tracks like the lead vocal, bass line, guitars, drums, etc. are being combined together.
Then proper effects (like EQ, reverb, delay) are added to each track, along with panning and volume adjustments. In the final step, all tracks are exported simultaneously to create a song in the form of a single stereo interleaved .wav or .aiff file.
In audio mastering (as mentioned in the previous section) the entire song is affected by effects processes, not individual tracks.
At least once a week, someone uploads a song .wav file and says they want it mixed and mastered. Well, you can't mix one file. The word "mixing" is a verb and you need at least two tracks (files) to be able to mix them together. You need at least two of anything to be able to mix it together!
A music DJ is a good example. If he had only one record, he wouldn't be doing any mixing. He could throw some scratches in, but that's it.
Should Your Mixes Sound Close To A Mastered Song?
DEFINATELY 100% NO!!
I've actually seen a few sound engineers online say the opposite. They say to make your mix sound as close as possible to a finished master. "All you want the mastering engineer to do is make the song louder." These comments are based on common sense and theory, NOT on real world experience working with thousands of clients (like I have)!
Note - If the only thing your songs really needed was for the mastering engineer to make them louder, why not just make them louder yourself and save the money? Duh! No, pay someone $500 to do it in 15 minutes. I want that job!
Here's why you don't tell clients to partially master their own songs:
1. Because you're paying an experienced mastering engineer to properly do the entire job. Here's a non-music example. Before you get your car detailed, do you clean it spotless inside and out, but leave only the windshield dirty? So that's all the car detailer has to do is wash your windshield and he's done? NO! That doesn't even make any sense.
You're paying for a car detail and you want every process that comes with it. That's their specialty and you want their expertise in every area, not just the windshield washing process. The same goes for audio mastering.
2. Mixing is not mastering. For a song to sound like a commercially mastered song on the radio you MUST use effects on the stereo/main out bus. When you do use effects on the stereo/main out bus you are mastering not mixing. And you're not supposed to partially master your songs if they're going to a mastering engineer. Read #1 again.
3. And the #1 reason is THEY CAN'T DO IT! They don't have the knowledge, skills, replicating abilities, etc. That's why they're looking for a mastering engineer to begin with!
I explain to my clients to submit a mix that's clean, but slightly dull with lower overall volume levels, so that I can bring everything up to where it needs to be. Nothing on the stereo/main out bus.
In the past, before I was giving this info, do you know what my clients sent me? I would say half the submissions were partial masters where the clients were trying to make them sound radio ready. The problem was they were TERRIBLE! Way over-level, distorted, super bright and/or super bass, way too much compression, etc. Many times they had everything wrong!
In a perfect world, yeah send me a song that's already mastered and I don't have to do anything to it. But I know from years of experience working with actual people that this is a very unrealistic request. Most can't do it, that's why they're looking for a mastering engineer to begin with!
I've also heard the comment that mastering is taking all the songs on a CD and making them all sound similar. Really? That's all mastering is? So, I'm supposed to take the best mix on the CD and make all the other songs sound just like it? That doesn't even make any sense! What if the best mix on the CD sucks?
What if someone gives me only one song (which happens daily)? It can't be mastered because there isn't an entire CD?
I make every song on the CD sound as close as possible to a commercial industry standard song. Each song is mastered to sound the very best it can, regardless of past or future songs on the CD. Also, every song is mixed differently and requires different actions to achieve this. After I do this, all the songs on the CD are comparable in every sonic area.
Audio mastering is taking a mix and bringing it up to commercial industry standards.
Preparing You Song Tracks For Audio Mastering
Here are a few tips on how to prepare your mixes for mastering:
1. Export your files as a .wav or .aiff, 44.1 or 48kHz and preferably 24bit.
2. 1/3 of the songs we receive are over level with little or no dynamic range. Don't keep raising your faders higher and higher taking your song to total distortion, because you're trying to match commercial radio volume levels. This process is done in mastering, not in mixing. Our article, How Much Headroom For Mastering Should I Leave, explains in detail how to solve this common problem.
3. Common Music Mixing Mistakes I See Daily, tells you what problems to watch for in your mixes. 80% of the mixes we receive suffer from at least one of these common mixing mistakes.
4. Make sure your vocals aren't the brightest part of your song. If they are, they'll be unbearably bright when the overall volume level is raised in mastering.
This mistake is usually made when there is no space in the mix. The music is dense or the bass runs over the vocal space, so the mixer makes the vocals real bright to try and cut through the mix.
5. Visit my mastering prices page for affordable rate with amazing results!
In this article, I'll show you how to prepare your songs for mixing.
Preparing Your Songs For Mixing
Surprisingly, many clients don't know what mixing is. I will address that first.
Mixing is individual tracks (vocals, bass, guitar, etc.) mixed together to make a complete song (single stereo interleaved file). Mastering involves working with a complete song (single stereo interleaved file).
1. We do not work with pro tools or cubase sx session files, only .wav or .aiff files.
2. You have to export each channel as a .wav file or .aiff, 44.1 or 48kHz and preferably 24bit, starting at the beginning of the song all the way to the end.
3. Do not go over 0 level and clip any of your tracks.
Your stereo tracks should look something like this.
NOT like this, over level and DISTORTED.
4. When recording vocals, use minimal compression, and bass roll off (Hi pass @ 100hz). We don't want them smashed or super bright.
5. Vocal control is probably more important than compression. If the vocalist mumbles through the verses and then screams +10db louder in the choruses, with their mouth 1/2 inch from the mic, no compressor can fix that.
6. If your vocal tracks are all over the map from a volume level standpoint, they need to be smoothed out. Do a visual of the vocal tracks, highlight the offending areas, and then gain (or cut) as necessary. Compression will also help.
7. Should you export your tracks with effects? If you have a favorite guitar distortion effect, a unique flange or chorus you really like that you KNOW you must have in the song, export the track with the effect on it. These effects don't take up that much space in the mix. If it's a huge reverb or delay, leave that to us. Once you put these space eating effects in, we're stuck with them and it limits what we can do.
8. EQing and hi-low pass filtering tracks are fine, but not to extremes. If you were to high pass filter your vocals @500hz, they'll all be too bright and useless. Also, you eliminate the bass so it can't be boosted if needed.
9. Stereo tracks, like synths, should be uploaded as stereo interleaved files, not L & R mono files. We can split them if needed. Note: If we split the track, it still counts as one track when it comes to pricing.
10. Listen closely to every track for noise. If there's a hiss, something could be boosted too high.
11. If any tracks are too noisy and you can't eliminate it, noise gate the track. Make sure to add a little extra release time so you don't cut off the audio tails.
12. You do not need to fade out each track. We will fade the entire song at the end.
13. Limit your instrumentation with space in mind. If your song has five guitars and three synths, all playing different melodies at the same time, its not going to work. It may be correct melodically, but it will sound like a train-wreck when all playing together, leaving no room for the vocals either. This is why no one ever does this!
14. Most important, make sure when your tracks are exported and start at 0:00, they're all in sync. If even one track is early or late, its a time consuming process moving it up and back.
15. Make sure you check out my low mastering prices and AMAZING results!!
Though I would rather you work with me. If my prices are a little too high, check out an audio engineer who used to work for me, Brett Anderson from Cheap Audio Mastering - Mixing And Mastering Services