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Tips and Tutorials

…and make amendments


Ordering mixing and mastering online instead of an attended session raises some issues related to your perception of the mix, being away from the studio and your engineer. This article will help you to make the right decisions and send the list of amendments, which will improve your final mix or master and not ruin it.

Respect the professional decision

The first and foremost thing to understand is that most of the mixing and mastering decisions are made on purpose. There is always a reason to cut some annoying frequencies or to make some instruments sound quieter than the others etc. There are, however, some artistic choices, which you would like to preserve in the final mix, and that’s what you should explain to your engineer.

Demo mix or master

While working on the track, we all are getting attached to our initial mix. However, it is not necessarily the best mix version of your track. Sometimes your sketch gives a rough idea of a concept behind your music, the sound you are aiming for, and the mood of your composition. But the devil is in detail, and getting used to your original mix may affect your decisions while listening to the studio version. A clever mixing engineer would pick up the concept points and make your record sound accordingly, implementing all his professional skills to achieve the best possible result. You may miss a thing or two while creating your music, but a skilled audio professional will make things to sound right.

Forget about loudness

Nowadays, there are quite a few loudness standards in the industry, implemented by different streaming and audio distribution platforms. In simple words, it means that you shouldn’t judge the loudness of your mix or master in the first place. If you are comparing to a reference track, bring them as close as possible to the same level and then make a comparison; otherwise, the louder mix will compromise your judgements.

Where to listen?

All sound systems sound different. All the rooms sound different. Everybody hears differently. These three statements should stay in your mind while listening to a mix or master. Not everyone has acoustically treated room with a high-end audio system installed, so you have to use what you’ve got available, but try to start with the best. Let’s say you’ve got a hi-fi in your living room, good quality headphones, your car stereo and a Bluetooth speaker. Select the one you have the most listening experience with; the audio system, which you used the most for listening to music. Then you can compare to the other records, knowing how they sound.

How to listen?

Adjust the volume to be similar to an average conversation volume in the room. Don’t push it too hard. That will keep it as linear as possible with less harmonic distortion. The medium playback volume will give you a good listening experience together with the right frequency response image of your hearing. It tends to change when loudness increases.

What to pay attention to?

While listening to you mix or master for the first time, don’t dig too deep into details. Try to get the overall sound image and get used to it. The first impression is crucial. The first thing you will hear is the acoustic stage and the main instruments. They will drag your primary attention. Vocals, solo, snare drum etc. Decide, if you like the tone of them, the volume, mix placement and the overall concept.

Reference tracks

Carefully select your references. You shouldn’t compare the sound of an acoustic ballad to a hard rock track. Style, tempo and vibe similarities between your music and your reference track give you a more adequate comparison.

Knowing what you want

It is good to know how would you like your music to sound. Mixing and mastering may change the sound of your song dramatically, so you need to provide to your mixing engineer a clear vision of the sound concept.

Band or solo decision

If you are the only one who takes the decision, then you may skip this paragraph, but if there are more people involved or the whole band, then make sure that they followed the same listening guidelines and discuss your amendment points. Do not finalise the list unless everybody is happy.

How to write a good list of mix amendments

Be specific. Never write something like “I don’t like the snare sound” because it does not point an engineer to any improvement direction. You may say: “I would like my snare to be more aggressive (smooth, distant, punchy, roomy, etc.)”. When you request an amendment, you have to make sure that an engineer will understand what instrument and what part of the song you are talking about. It is better to use timecode instead of the “second part of the chorus”, “build-up”, and “bridge”. Try to keep the sequence of amendments in line with the time, don’t jump from intro to solo and back again, it helps to understand the sound concept of each part.

Each song is unique, and we have to work together to produce the best possible result. Your listeners will judge it at the end of the day. Online mixing and mastering require full understanding between the studio and the client.
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Tips and Tutorials
If you are uncertain about what mixing service suits you best, please read the following guide.

Basic Online Mixing

Example 1. You had a playback or a backing track of a song (just music), and you recorded your voice at your place. Now you need it to be mixed by a professional engineer, to make your voice sound nicely together with the music. As a result, you will get a stereo mix, suitable for your own use, publishing, adding to a youtube video, etc.

Example 2. You have a band and decided to record a live demo. You went to a rehearsal and managed to get your song recorded as a multitrack. Let’s say you had the following setup: Kick Drum, Snare Drum, Tom1, Tom2, Floor Tom, HiHat, Left and Right Overhead Mic, Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Solo Guitar, Stereo Keyboard, Main Vocal, Backing Vocal. It makes 14 tracks in total. We will mix your tracks “In the box”, meaning that we will use only digital Plug-ins and digital summing. There is nothing wrong with that, and it will not affect our approach to your mix. You will get the best demo record possible, to show to your promotor or label, or make a cool youtube music video of your band performing live.

Standard and Pro Online Mixing

Here comes an uncompromised analog mix of your song at the full technical capabilities of our studio. The only limit here is the track count. Our experience shows that 48 channels are enough for most of the productions. So if your session has less than 48, you can choose “Standard Mixing” and have your mix done, otherwise go for the Pro. It is just the naming, and there is no difference in quality between these two services. We decided to name them like that because you need a little bit more professionalism to get all 96 tracks of some film music or a complicated piece of a rock band playing with a symphonic orchestra to sound good.

Additional services 

During the ordering process, you have a few additional services to choose from to add to your order.

Vocal Pitch Correction

Although you have “some vocal editing” included in standard and pro packages, if you need us to go through your vocal track in detail and fix all pitching and timing issues, you have to select this one. We will also make sure that all backing vocals are tight and aligned. We use Auto-Tune in manual mode to get the most natural sound of your voice.

Audio Editing

This option is good to add when you need to edit your tracks before mixing. It may be quantising your drums, editing bass guitar, tightening vocal double-tracks. If you feel, that there is too much editing to be done before you are happy with us starting the mix, you may go for a dedicated editing service for your tracks. If you are not sure about it, just send it to us, and we will let you know.

Mastering

Free Pre-Mastering may be included in your package, but if you need a dedicated mastering for your track, you should select this option. It does not mean that the one included is not good. It is normally performed by the same engineer at the same studio. It is ok, but if you need the best possible result, we will pass the mix to our mastering facility with a dedicated mastering engineer to take care of it.
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