Re: [Harp-L] Mixing and Mastering advice...
I read through Alex's message, and it's quite problematic, at least for
me. Most importantly, I believe he confuses mastering with mixing in the
middle of his discussion. Neither should be done by giving an engineer
some notes and hoping you'll get what you're hearing in your head.
First of all, since you are not very experienced at mixing, I would guess
that you wouldn't have many notes to give an engineer in the first
place. But if there's a recording you want yours to sound like, THAT'S a
very good note. But you should be there for the mixes, every step of the
way. You'll learn alot with every song.
On the other hand, many mastering studios charge extra if you want to be
there while they're working. This is because very, very few producers
would have any useful input DURING the process. Your responses to the
outcome of the process - that's an entirely different matter. I've been to
a few mastering sessions, with excellent producers, and the less they said
the easier it was for the engineer to do something worthwhile for them.
Alex's mention of timing sections didn't make sense to me (which doesn't
mean it doesn't make sense, just not to me), but it did remind me of
something that's really important and quite often neglected: the timings
between songs. Once you have your mixes, and you've decided on the
sequence in which they'll appear on your CD, you'll need a program called
"Audigy." Audigy is available for both Mac and PC, for free. (If you
already have an audio editor on your computer, use that one, as you'll
already be familiar with its workings.)
Load the first two song files into the same project. Play around with the
space between them. Listen to the ending of the first song and FEEL how
the beginning of the second song feels coming after different lengths of
silence. I put three hours into this activity on my latest project. After
a while, you'll swear you can hear the difference a few miliseconds
make. And very suddenly, mainly through random monkeying around, one gap
makes magic - suddenly the leadout and lead-in make musical
sense. Weird. Make note of the exact timing of the gap. Then place the
third song after the second, and repeat the process. Give your mastering
engineer this precise gapping information.
You will of course want to do this away from the recording studio, with the
hours clicking away. Presumeably you'll have finished mixing at this
point, but not yet sent the tracks to your mastering house. Taking great
care with your gaps gives a sense of drama to a CD.
Unfortunately, these precise gaps will be nearly meaningless when your CD
is put on an iPod, or on a Flash jukebox on your website. There's a way of
maintaining those gaps, however. It's somewhat elaborate, and would
confuse this discussion, but if anyone's interested, lemme know. In any
case, when I listen to my CD in the car, the gaps really add something to
the experience. When I listen to it on my iPod the music does quite well
without those gaps, but I miss them.
Did I mention that at every stage of the recording you should not say
you're done until it's something you would want to listen to a whole lot -
and not just because you're on it? If you make a CD of music that you
yourself would feel compelled to own even if someone else made it, then you
may have made a CD which people who share your taste would feel compelled
to own. This is harder to do than it sounds, but if you stay focused on
making a record you yourself love, step by step, you may wind up with one.
This is the very heart of the process in the end. For instance, if the
band hits a groove that doesn't kill you, try again. Do not say to
yourself, ah well it doesn't kill me but maybe I'm wrong. It's likely that
everyone in the studio is thinking, this groove doesn't quite cut it, but
everyone else seems to like it. Calmly suggest a retake and work with the
key players to make a groove that is stronger. Same with mistakes. Don't
leave them in if you dislike them even slightly, because after just a few
listens they'll be the only thing you hear. Every step of the way work
toward music that surprises and delights you, and for which you'll never
have to make an excuse. (Sometimes it just comes out, sometimes you have
to try try try.) If you make music you love to hear when you perform,
you're perfectly capable of doing it in the studio. But don't settle for less.
Otherwise you'll be asking people to buy a CD that doesn't knock you
out. "Please buy my CD. It's sort of good."
That's why I listen to my CD in the car and on my iPod. I really, really
like it, and worked hard to make it so.
Finally, before you master you'll want to go to
and get your free ISRC codes for your songs recordings. Your mastering
engineer will embed them - inaudibly - into your mastered tunes. Instead
of my explaining this stuff, just go to that page and read the info. No
matter what you think of the RIAA, you do want those codes in your tunes.
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