STEREO MIXDOWNS & ANALOGUE SUMMING
We are pleased to offer analogue mixing and summing services at an affordable rate. This is ideal for emerging and established artists producing their own music solely with headphones, working with speakers in untreated room environments and/or mostly working "in-the-box" (i.e. bouncing to disk). Digitally-produced music benefits immensely from the spacialization, warmth and cohesiveness that analogue summing can achieve. Furthermore, we'll bring some perspective. We'll be listening to your work through a proper monitoring system using mastering grade analog-to-digital converters and speakers in an acoustically neutral room. This allows us to hear how your music really sounds. Most importantly, even if you are using higher quality gear (DAW's like ProTools, or top outboard gear, like a nice Neve 1073, for example), you may find it beneficial to bounce ideas off another human being. It's great to have a fresh pair of ears listen to your production! After all, mixing is a listening art form.
HOW TO PREPARE FILES FOR A MIXDOWN
1. Each track needs to be a continuous individual file, from the start of song to its end. This means: there should be no edits or gaps on the audio file. Each track needs to be one single mono file (or stereo file if that is the format your DAW uses). For example, in Ableton Live, before you bus record or disc record the file (also called: "bounce to disk," "render" ) you’ll need to mute all the other tracks and effect sends, except the one you wish to bounce. It's a time consuming process, we know!
2. All tracks need to begin at the same start-time or same timestamp. Even if you have a sound event on one track at the very end of your song, the bounce or render needs to begin at the same very beginning of your song, exactly at the same start-point as all the other tracks. The end of the files can all be different. When the sound ends for the song, the audio file can end there.
3. All tracks need to have your DAW plugins removed, unless you have tracks with specific sound design elements from plugins or external manipulation. Separation is critical. If you have a specific effect, please bounce to a new audio track and send with rest of stems. Otherwise, remove EQ, compressors, reverbs and delays from all your tracks. If your program renders tracks through the master stereo bus (like Ableton), please remove all stereo mix buss processing before you make the audio tracks for mixing. And just as a reminder while you’re recording, track with little to no compression. Keep the dynamics for us to work with them. If you have some cool vintage analog piece of gears, just tap it to add color. Don't squash tracks, just barely touch them.
4. Vocals: Please make sure your vocals are all de-essed before you bounce them. If any pitch-correction is needed, make sure you've done that before sending to us. We are only mixing down your stems, not producing your song.
5. Drums: Check for phase problems before sending our way. If you recorded multiple microphones, make sure they are all in-phase. A typical problem is having overhead, toms or snare drum microphones cancel (or "thin out") when played together. Again, we are mixing your songs, not fixing tracking errors or producing the track for you. There's a great VST plug-in called Voxengo SPAN. It's a freeware and it has some very useful metering, including a phase correlation meter. We highly recommend using it to check for phasing issues.
6. Piano or any other miked live instruments - Same thing, check for phase problems if you recorded it with more than one microphone.
7. Effects: if you have sound-design effects that rely on plugins (or hardware), please render or record those as a separate sound file and make sure it follows the timeline when you record it. If you are using an effect to color the track (for example, a chorus on a bass guitar), render with the effects. I’m only mixing down your sounds, not recreating a specific effect or adding/subtracting any compositional elements.
8. Don’t clip the audio inputs when recording/rendering/bouncing to disk - watch your meters carefully. LED meters in any part of your signal chain should never go red: if they are red, it means it's clipping. When things that are not meant to clip do, it sounds terrible and we cannot fix clipping. We'd prefer a low signal than a digitally clipped track.
9. And while we are talking levels: everyone tends to record way too hot these days. It's not necessary, specially if you are recording at a minimum resolution of 24-bit/44.1hz (personally, we prefer tracking at a minimum of 24-bit/48hz). Voxengo's SPAN has an RMS meter, so always crosscheck levels with it. Try shooting for an RMS of -18db's on each track. That should leave plenty of headroom for us.
10. Sample bit rate/frequency and file types: we can handle up to 24-bit/192khz. WAV or AIFF file formats preferred. Don’t change or up-sample before your render, just send us the native rate/frequency you’ve been using in your project.
11. Send us any reference tracks (i.e. tracks you think sounds amazing). It always help to hear what inspires you, just to get a feel for your taste and aesthetics.