Re: [Harp-L] Mixing and Mastering advice...
Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions of mixing and mastering...
First, make sure you've heard some mixes by the guy who is mixing. Make
sure you like them. Make sure you like being with the guy for the hours it
is going to take.
Unless you have some very definite opinions about how you want the CD to
sound, and perhaps some examples to play for your mixer, let him/her listen
and come up with some general ideas - a rough mix of the first tune. If
it's in your ball park, say so and especially talk about what you like
about the mix. As the mix progresses a good engineer will be asking for
your opinion alot. No need to be polite if things are going off in any
direction but one you like. The engineer WANTS to know what you feel about
things every step of the way, if he's any good. You'll quickly develop a
language, a shorthand you can share. Once the first mix is done to your
mutual satisfaction the engineer will have a good sense of how to proceed
with the rest of the tracks. Your satisfaction is far more important than
the engineer's, however, so if you like something SAY SO. And if you
don't, SAY SO. Don't be intimidated by your differing levels of
experience, your ears are fresh, you have years of listening to recorded
music, your ears know more than you think they do.
The thing in a mix is, you're going for a result that gives you a
feeling. This means you don't need to know what each piece of outboard
gear does. It means when you get a strong feeling from a mix, tell the
engineer to stop. These days in an electronic studio most of what has been
done on a mix can be snapshotted. If the engineer thinks he can even do
better, snapshot this mix as it is when you get the feeling from it. It
may well be the one you go back to. If the new mixes also give you strong
feelings, as sometimes they will, great. If the best feeling you get is
listening to that first mix, go with it. If your budget is way short, you
may say stop, that's it, this gives me a feeling, let's go onto the next one.
As for mastering, do not master at the same place. Use a fresh set of
ears. Mastering engineers are a very special breed with unique training,
ears and equipment. Also, you'll have a fresh set of professional ears on
the case. Hiring your mixing engineer to master is sort of like when bozos
hire the guitar player to play harmonica.
You will be tempted after the mixing work is done to not master. It'll
sound great, you're walking on air, a mix sounds SO much better than pre-mix.
Don't give in to the temptation. The difference between the final mix and
the sound you'll hear with a professionally mastered version of same is
eye-opening. Mastering is the finish carpentry of the record making
craft - don't let your music be like an orange crate. Bite the bullet and
pay the costs. (Nowadays alot of mastering houses are experiencing a
crunch. Many of them will be willing to cut their posted fee for us small
Listen carefully to the master that your mastering house gives you. Listen
in lots of situations. List what you don't like. Mastering engineers
expect you will come back with notes, what works for you, what doesn't. It
can be a many step process. Back in the early 90's my duo, the vonBrellas,
did four masterings, each one radically improving on the last.
By the same token, when I mastered my new CD I could not hear any problems
in the first pass. I took it to a friend with far better ears than my own,
and he couldn't hear any problems either. I am delighted with the sound
quality of my CD, and the people who are buying it mention how much they
like the sound after discussing the other things they like about it.
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