I will call you once I have received contact information via this website or by a quote submission. We will discuss the history, progression, and direction of your project, and make sure we are on the same page regarding needs of services and the necessary preparation of material. I will be asking a lot of questions and taking notes and I recommend that you do likewise. Please follow the prep tips to ensure acceptance of your project!
Project Submission, Analysis & Acceptance
You can send me your project files and notes (zipped with password protection if so desired) in any way that is convenient to you. I recommend a cloud based service such as Dropbox, Sugarsync, Google Drive, or Microsoft Skydrive. After you have uploaded your data please send me the link via email. Once I have access to the material I will perform a quick analysis of all audio. Again, please pay attention to the prep tips provided on this page to guarantee quick acceptance of your project! I will contact you if there are any issues beyond agreed services or if there is something we can resolve quickly. If all is well, I will send you an invoice via email. A confirmed non-refundable 50% deposit is required before final acceptance of your project.
Artist's Folder Access
You will be given access to your very own project folder stored in a secure off-site location. I will send you the link to your folder via email. Your project folder will contain all the data (including a copy of original submitted files) pertaining to the project and can be accessed by you at anytime. I will notify you of any file updates for your review. I make on-site and off-site backups of all my session work daily; so rest assured that your project data is secure and well kept.
When mixes, masters, or custom tracks are near completion they will be posted for artist review. Two revisions per track will be allowed should the artist not be satisfied with the review material. As a matter of security all posted tracks will be digitally watermarked. Final releases will be free from such watermarks.
Upon the satisfaction of the artist a final invoice will be sent. A confirmed receipt of the remaining 50% due will initiate final release of all project material. As a professional courtesy, I ask that Sonic Imagery Productions be given proper credit for services rendered on publicly released material. In reciprocation, Sonic Imagery Productions will provide on-site reference to the artist's social and merchandise links. If the artist prefers otherwise, their wishes will be honored.
There are a number of things that you or your band can do to ensure that your recording time in the studio is productive and within budget. First and foremost you should be on time. If a session is scheduled for 2PM the clock starts exactly then; with, or without you. Just remember arriving early is always a good thing and can provide you the opportunity to warm up.
Invest your time with proper rehearsal. Know the songs inside and out, individually and as a band. Proper time management requires your intimate knowledge of the song structure so that all overdubbing processes will run quickly and smoothly. Aids such as music and lyric sheets will help keep things organized and running smoothly.
Bring reliable instruments and equipment. Consider new drum heads and guitar strings; both of which require proper stretching a day or two before the session. Double up on everything such as: cables, strings, picks, batteries, etc... Vocal aids such as: lozenges, teas or honey can help prolong your voice. Ensure that all instruments are properly tuned before each take.
Breath In, Breath Out
Please take these tips into consideration, they are provided for you so that you can enjoy the opportunity to record the music you've worked so very hard on. Everything covered? Great! It's now time to relax, have fun, and let it shine!
Files: Format & Quality
I only accept .wav or .aiff files. Lossy formats such as MP3, AAC, WMA, or Ogg Vorbis will not be accepted. Unless tracking was initially done at 16 bit / 44.1 kHz, all files should be at least 24 bit / 44.1 kHz or higher. It is important that files be received at the originally produced resolution as conversion/dithering is part of the mastering process.
Consolidate each track so that all of the audio files start at the same point (i.e. 00:00 on the timeline). This will allow them to be imported in the proper time relationship; synchronized in relation to each other. Make sure that there is at least one or two bars before and after the song begins (noise print allowance).
Plugins, Effects Processing & Levels
Please remove all track plugins, inserts, EQ, compression, reverb, delay or other effects unless it is an integral part of the track; any processing on your part can not be removed during the mixing stage. No processing on the master bus, e.g. any loudness maximizing processor or EQ of any kind. In short, leave everything as originally recorded, as is, with no processing whatsoever. All track levels should read between -6dBFS to -12dBFS (headroom allowance).
Files: Names & Order
Please be sure to have all your tracks properly labeled. This is a necessity for quick navigation during the mixing stage. Some examples are:
If you have your own naming scheme please ensure that a reference sheet is included in your submission.
Please include a text file with the follow information inside:
- Artist / Band Name and Contact Info
- Producer Name & Contact Info (if any)
- Record Label and Contact Info (if any)
- Album or Project Title
- Song Titles
- BPM of Each Song
- Special Notes & References
Ensure that everything is accurate and spelled correctly.
Remove any Master Bus Compression, Limiting, and Equalization
Many times mixing engineers pre-master their tracks to get a better sound. While the pre-master may sound better, adding processors to the master bus makes it difficult if not impossible for me to make a great master. In rare instances engineers may use a special processor or plug-in on the master bus for effect. If so, make sure to notify me when you send in the project.
Keep the Max Levels of Each Track Between -3dBFS and -6dBFS
By giving me enough headroom to work with I’ll be able to give you a better final master. You don’t want to have clipping on any of the tracks in your mix. It’s important to make sure EVERY TRACK has enough headroom. Do not just lower the master bus, but every single track in your mix.
Eliminate Noise on the Mix
Mastering will make your song louder and bring out imperfections that may not be as noticeable on the mix. If you can hear it in the mix, you will definitely hear it in the master. Remember to remove any pops, clicks, background noise, and anything else that is bothersome. I can remove some noise; however you’ll get a much better master if you fix it in the mix.
Keep Your Mix Clean and Dynamic
Reduce frequency buildups that are not the main focus of the song. Frequency buildups can make a mix sound unclear or 'muddy". Using low-pass filters for instruments or vocals that have little low frequency content helps reduce these buildups. Leave your mix dynamic. Overuse of compression can take the life out of a song. This makes it difficult for the me to create a great sounding master. It's best to leave mixes as dynamic as possible. Doing so gives me sufficient space to sculpt the dynamics to create the best possible master.
Submit the Highest Resolution File You Have
You will want to make sure to submit your files in the same resolution they were mixed at. Generally speaking you will want to submit a 24bit .WAV or .AIF file. These files are lossless (non-compressed or converted) and will give me the best options when mastering. Most any file can be mastered, but the final quality will suffer when using lossy formats such as MP3, AAC, WMA, or Ogg Vorbis codecs.
Submit Reference Songs and Notes
A good mastering engineer knows what commercial levels are and will be able to match your musical genre to these levels. However within each genre there are often differences in equalization and compression. Likewise many artists want a specific sound with their master. For this reason it’s very helpful if you let me know any song references that have a similar sound you want. Please include reference tracks with your project submission if possible. Also adding notes is helpful so I know exactly what you want. This can help reduce revisions and give you the exact sound you want.
Do Not add Fades, Cross Fades, or Spaces
I will add song fades. Leave this up to me and you’ll get a better final master. If you have special requirements for spacing between tracks make sure to me know. Redbook standard gap is 2 seconds.
Remove any Dithering
As with fades, dithering will be added by my self. If you’ve pre-mastered your track with dithering, or other plug-ins designed to “enhance” the sound you will want to remove them. Dithering is best left to me to choose the correct settings for each song.
Reference Your Mix
Listen to songs that you want your mix to sound like. It’s important to do this both during the mixing process and especially toward the end of the mix. Compare levels, compression, equalization, effect etc. This can give you a good idea of what you might want to fix, change, or modify. Also, listen to your mix on different playback systems such as your home stereo, car stereo, headphones, and even ear-buds. This will help you make adjustments so your song sounds it's best to all your listeners.
Above All Make Sure Your Mix Sounds Like You Want
This is possibly the most important tip. So often after mastering a song, the artist will decide they are not happy with the way they mixed the track, or want a track replacement. The re-mix will then require re-mastering. Artists should remember that mastering is not a magic fix all and you’re not going to get a great final master if you don’t have a great mix. As mentioned before, mastering will bring out both the best and worst in your mix so it’s important to iron out everything possible before submission.