+ What’s the difference between mixing & mastering?
Mixing is the process of adjusting the levels, balance, & effects of individual tracks in a song. Mastering is done after the final mix has been completed. The mastering engineer is the final set of ears in the process, working on the finished mixes together in one session to ensure a cohesive sound throughout. The mastering process is essential in determining the overall sound, loudness level, & character of the finished album. Mastering is also where song lengths & transitions between tracks are finalized.
+ What is stem mastering?
Stem mastering is done from multiple stem files for each instrument group, as opposed to working solely from the stereo mix. This allows me to make more level changes to individual instruments, giving us more control over the final results during the mastering process. Stem mastering can be helpful for material recorded in a home studio, or if the artist wants me to have a little more creative control over the final mix.
+ Whats the benefit of hiring you to master vs. having my mix engineer do it, doing it myself, or using LANDR?
The main benefit to hiring me to master your album is that I have a fresh set of objective ears. You or your mix engineer have probably spent weeks or months working on the same songs. You’ve heard them hundreds of times, your ears are likely tired, & at this point your perspective on the project is extremely subjective. You could throw the mixes through some more plugins in an attempt to master them yourself, but in my experience having as many dedicated sets of ears for each step of the process is invaluable. Mastering your own mix is kind of like editing your own writing. You might be able to pull it off, but chances are you’ll make mistakes & the final product won't be nearly as great as having a specialist refine & perfect your hard work.
These days there are some “auto-mastering” websites out there (ex. LANDR) that claim to instantly “master” your music online. While LANDR is an interesting tool and might come in handy for finishing a quick demo, it’s my firm belief that there is no way a computer algorithm can replace a real mastering engineer. The attention to detail that I will provide you, along with the creativity & passion I put into every project is going to give you a product you can be proud of for years to come. LANDR is just going to give you a louder WAV file, based on EQ curves that it copied from whatever popular music it’s developers have been feeding it. There’s no comparison between that & a real human being working on your songs.
+ How can I prepare my songs for mastering? Can you give me advice on my mixes?
Yes! I offer free mix feedback to anyone who fills out my contact form. I’m happy to review your mixes, and let you know if I spot any issues before we start the mastering process. When your songs are done and ready to be mastered, please have the engineer prepare the final mixes as WAV files in whatever sample rate you’ve been working in. Make sure there’s adequate headroom in the files, and that any brick-wall limiting has been removed before you prep the final files.
Once you submit files to me, I'll send over a short questionnaire about your goals for the project, and get some references to other music you like so we can establish a clear vision of the sound you're going for.
+ How does payment & file delivery work?
Once we agree on a turnaround time & rate for the project, I’ll give you instructions on how to upload the final mixes to me. I require a 25% upfront deposit to cement your session on my calendar. I’ll invoice you for the rest of the payment once I’m done with the first pass of the master. I’ll then send over a continuous WAV file of the album once I receive payment. Once masters are done, I’ll deliver the final files in WAV, or whatever format you desire, along with a DDP file if necessary.
+ What’s your revision policy?
My goal as your mastering engineer is to provide you a finished product that you’ll love for years to come. I will revise my work as much as is reasonable, to make sure we are both satisfied with the way things are sounding. All revision requests must be submitted within 30 days of the initial mastering session. If a mix needs to be swapped out after the first master is done I charge a fee of $25, as I will need to spend extra time re-evaluating the new mix. It’s important that you make sure you are satisfied with your mixes before sending them in for mastering. Mastering won’t be able to fix a bad mix. We’ll communicate beforehand about the goals for your project, and define the sound that you’re going for. If we work together I can also offer you free mix advice, to ensure we get the best results during mastering!