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FAQ’s
Stereo Mixing
How do I prep the session and files for mixing?

Once you select your mixing or mastering engineer, we will send you information on what we need to help make your project sound and feel its best!

 

What’s included in the price?
  • Delivery of Final and Instrumental Mixes 

  • Revisions, if needed. 

 

What about mix stems, alternative version edits, or “clean” mixes?

Creating stems (i.e., sub-mixes of drums, guitars, vocals, etc.) are billed at the hourly rate of the mixer. The same goes for alternate mixes, such as clean mixes, version edits, etc.

 

Do you include vocal tuning or detailed audio editing?

Vocal/instrument tuning and any major editing, like editing drums, cleaning up noise on tracks, etc., is not included in the price, but we are happy to do it for an hourly rate or a possible flat fee.

 

Do you charge per track or by song?

We consider the track count, song length, and complexity of the project and customize a price that makes sense for your project.

 

What’s the difference between Stems and Tracks?
Tracks

When we refer to tracks, we are talking about the multitrack files in the DAW session or on a reel of tape. These are the individual elements such as Snare Top, Kick Drum, Hat, Guitar Lead, Vocal, etc. If you have multiple sounds playing from one one track, like a clean guitar with tremolo on the verse and then a screaming, distorted guitar lead later in the song, we'll want those put onto their own individual tracks before you print tracks to send to us. See the info below for printing tracks from virtual drum plug-ins…

 

For Virtual Drum Plug-ins:

Maybe your song was created using a virtual drum plug-in like BFD or Superior Drummer, or using instruments in Kontakt like DrumLab, 60’s Drums, or Studio Drummer, etc.? If so, we need tracks printed from that virtual instrument that separate the different virtual mics into individual printed tracks. Having only a stereo print of the entire drumkit, while useful to hear what you’ve been working with, does not give us very good control of properly mixing the multi-sampled drum kit when needed (which is usually). We’ll want individual tracks printed from the plug-in, like kick, snare, hi hat, overheads, rooms, tom 1, tom2, etc. for our mixing session. Here is one nice video on Youtube that describes setting up Kontakt for this purpose in Ableton, but many DAW’s and plug-ins are somewhat similar. There are great tutorials on Youtube on how to print your virtual drum tracks. Here is one:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jESc0m7AUs

 

Stems

Stems are usually stereo files made up of groups of sounds (example: a wav file of just all of the drums, one of guitars, one of bass, or vocals and effects) that, when played all together, would sound close to the stereo mix.

 
DOLBY Atmos Music Mixing


 

What the heck is DOLBY Atmos?

DOLBY Atmos is an immersive audio format where the music can engulf you in sound and emotion, much like music and sound in real life, or can be made surreal in an amazing way.

 

Unlike previous “surround” formats, DOLBY Atmos is scalable. Ok, what does that mean? With older formats like 5.1, you need many speakers to play all the sounds in a surround music mix. If you were missing the rear speakers, you might completely miss hearing the cello and violas panned to the rear speakers. Doh! With Atmos, streaming companies have added DOLBY licenses to each device that can play the format, like iPhones, Android phones, Apple TV, Firestick HD, an Atmos-capable soundbar, Homepod, and many others. With Atmos, the algorithm checks your device's speaker configuration. Is it connected to headphones? 2 speakers, and a subwoofer? 7 speakers around you, 4 above, and 1 subwoofer (7.1.4) or more? Then, the device will play back a version of the Atmos mix formatted to sound best on your device's speaker or headphones configuration. That is the “scalable” part. The most amazing versions are often multi-speaker systems, but headphone versions can be great and give a more immersive experience than a stereo mix. Much like stereo mixes, the immersive mix experience can rely heavily on the skill of the mixing engineer and the care taken to ensure your music translates both to the format and different devices. 

 

What services play music in DOLBY Atmos?

 

Apple Music offers Spatial Audio (their version of delivering Atmos mixes) to their 60 million plus listeners for free! Depending on your subscription, Tidal also plays Atmos mixes, as does Amazon music. Other services offer it, and more are coming online all the time to offer this exploding new format. We love listening and mixing in Atmos!


 

How will I be able to check mixes if I don’t have an ATMOS-capable speaker setup at my house?

If you live close to the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, or Nashville, we can make arrangements with Dolby ATMOS playback studios in those cities for you to listen on speakers for the ultimate experience. 

 

If you live outside the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, or Nashville and don’t have a DOLBY-approved studio near you, we will send you files to approve over headphones. You can hear the mixes the way most headphone users will hear them, and give us your thoughts on anything you would like to alter. We guide you through the process, so you know how the different speaker formats, like headphones versus speakers, should compare. We will create mixes that work best both for the rapidly-growing speaker technology market (soundbars, home theaters, all-in-ones like Homepods and Sonos units, and some computers) AND in headphones. We want your music to translate well to as many experiences as possible.

 

If I get an ATMOS mix, do I still have to have a stereo mix done?

To have an ATMOS mix on a streaming site such as Apple Music, you would need to have an accompanying stereo mix of your music. Much like creating a drawing and a sculpture, these mixes are different processes in many ways. 

 

Do I need to pay for an ATMOS AND Stereo mix?

It is common practice to have a stereo mix done separately from an ATMOS mix. However, there are instances we know of people paying for an ATMOS mix and creating a 2.0 “Downmix” to be used as the stereo mix. We are open to discussing an Atmos-to-stereo mixing option or a potential 2.0-downmix possibility with you, but we currently do the two mixes separately. 

 

What kind of file do I receive from an ATMOS mix?

You will receive what is called an ADM WAV file. The file appears to be a familiar WAV file but is much larger. It contains the ATMOS multi-channel audio with extra metadata for proper playback on speaker systems and headphones. You should make sure you are choosing a digital music distributor, such as Distrokid or Avid Play, that supports ATMOS mix distribution as well. 

 
Do I need to have my ATMOS mix mastered? 

Matt and McKay master their own Dolby Atmos mixes of your music. This is included in the price when you hire them for an Atmos mix.

 

Stereo Mastering
Why do I need mastering if I hire you to mix my project?

Usually, the initial mix is created to be balanced and deliver emotional impact from the instruments and vocals. Then that mix is mastered in context with an overall perspective to meet certain audio and file specifications for release using the best final “polish.” 

 

What files do you need from me?

Full-resolution wav files (96kHz, 48kHz, 44.1kHz, at 24 or 32 Bit) are preferred. If you have a limiter on the stereo buss of the mix to make it loud, we would prefer to have a version of the mix with it and one without it. If we are mastering one song that is part of a collection already released, it is helpful to have the other song masters as well.

 

What files will I receive? 

You will receive mastered stereo WAV files at the resolution you sent us, ready to upload to your digital distributor such as DistroKid, CD Baby, etc.

 

Will you include ISRC codes?

If you are pressing CDs, we ask the client to acquire them before contacting us. You can do that here. http://usisrc.org/

 

If doing Digital Distribution, most services provide them when uploading. 

 

General FAQ
Do you also provide production feedback before I sign up for mixing?

We can! We will do a complimentary 20-minute video consultation before you send us your files. We can share any thoughts on your recordings or arrangements that may impact our ability to get your mix where you want it to go. Sometimes it could be as simple as, “It seems there is no bottom end on the pre-chorus section in your rough mix reference. If you want a full sound in the bottom end there, perhaps the bass line could go down one octave there to give me some weight to work with.”

 

If I am in the area, can I attend the mix or mastering sessions?

While we enjoy having people in the studio, we like to do the first round of work independently, based on your notes. However, we welcome artists to join us for the final revision round!


 

Why don’t you print the prices?

Each project is different. The price will be different depending on track count, length, number of songs, and which one of us is mixing/mastering them. We don’t just mix and master your music; we enter into a relationship with your project where communication and your vision are top priorities. We will follow up on our quote with a call or text to start that journey together.

 

What are your payment terms?

We kindly ask for 50% of the payment before the project starts and 50% before the delivery of final mixes or masters. For you to reference our mix of your song, we will send you streaming links until full payment is completed. Billing will be handled by us individually. We accept Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, credit cards, etc. Payment service processing fees are extra.

 

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