of all, we like to know about
you and your project.
first contact we'll find out about they type of music you're doing,
what your goals are, how you've recorded your
project, what type of files are you bringing in (or tape),
what are the commercial CDs that sound best to you, what overall volume
level are you looking for, etc.
Your music is loaded the "source" computer
majority of the time our clients bring in 24 bit wav or aiff files -
and we copy them into our hard drive
and create a new project in our "source" Digital Audio
If you bring or send in Separations or traditional
some file organization and bring up the first song. If you bring in an
source, we're ready to go. Let us know if you have any songs that are
your sonic favorites in the project (and let us know if there's some
to watch for as well).
begin listening and possibly go over any of your written notes.
We're happy for you to attend
the session, but if you can't make it, that's ok too. We charge the
same rate whether you're at the session or not. Generally, the smaller
the crowd, the more time-efficient the session will be. It helps to
write out a list of your concerns and then have one or two people speak
for everyone. We can work on music in any order, but it works well
to do it in the order it will end up being on the CD. Generally
starting with the big/ louder production numbers is best, but not a
sound enhancement using analog eq, compression, limiting,
de-essing, polarity correction, width enhancement, multiband
and level correction. If we're doing Separation Mastering, we'll use
some State-of-the-art plug ins help to optimize the individual tracks.
During the first few songs we do a lot of A/B'ing of your music with
other commercial CDs (either one's we have or one's you bring in.)
attending the session, we should all be in agreement about
the "before" and "after" tone enhancements we've come up with. If
everyone says "ok - sound really good" we then
record each song into the Pyramix "destination"
mastering system (this takes real time). We mark down all the
processing and eq
settings in our data base for easy recall of every single setting in
the console, just in case we need to recall the song(s) again.
Every sound adjustment is recallable and non-destructive. We
always want to keep an eye on what you brought in originally, as well
as what the new result is.
• All the songs
"land" in our destination
As with all DAWs, the projects editing decision list (EDL)
gives a visual display of your music. As we go along and each song is
loaded in, we do
preliminary cleaning up the beginnings and endings of the songs.
We may not perfect the fade outs at first - saving that part of the
process for later when all the songs are in the EDL.
We not only A/B compare your music with commercial CDs, we also compare
current song we're working on with the already completed songs in your
project. This is not standard in
many other mastering studios, but it is
for us. Example:
we're loading in song #8 - we're still checking
the sound on songs 1 through 7. This is a more complete
approach to mastering because the tone and
levels of each song are being monitored during the entire process.
project will develop it's own "global" sweet spot (or optimum tonal
balance) and it will become evident how every song relates to the
others. Sometimes ONE song can influence the sound of the entire album!
If we need to change the eq on a song that's already been loaded in,
it's easy, fast and very simple to do. If you attend the session,
you'll hear the differences in the processing - you won't be puzzled
At this point in the desination comuter, more editing and creative work
can occur - we'll set the
amount of space between songs and set the Track ID's (they can go
anywhere you like) and handle any last minute creativity. Let us know
if there are any cross-fades you'd like, where you'd like the song
ID's, and if you want any hidden tracks. Note: if you ask questions
during the session, we tend to give detailed answers. Keep your budget
in mind when asking questions (but know that you'll come out of the
studio with more than just a master - you'll have knowledge and
experience that will always make the next record even better).
reference CDR for
the purposes of hearing everything all dialed in. Treat any CDR we give
you with the
ultimate CARE! Listen on
consumer systems (maybe even on a DJ system).
Dont' be tempted
to take it
back into the studio first. See our
page on Studio Monitor Madness
to see why.
Your CDR was designed for the real world. Take it there first.
Ideally, listen to other contemporary commercial CDs first to get used
to the tone of other records. We always adjust our listening when
we first get into the process. I don't recommend pulling out your
favorite old Stepenwolf records, or Greatest Elvis Hits! Those
old recordings have a different flavor than today's records.
Listen to your "competition." Listen on boom boxes. Listen in the car
remember, moving car CD players can scratch the
surface - always use care with your reference discs and/or masters).
Listen on a couple home systems.
After you've listened
to other CDs, then your CDR, then listen
to your old mixes. Remember, there were things you really really
liked about your un-mastered mixes. Mastering can change the
flavor of your music, hopefully for a more polished, enhanced
experience. But it will be different.
You may hear things you haven't heard
before in your mixes. Put
the CD on in the living room and go wash dishes in the kitchen and see
how it feels at a distance. Play it at a party, in the garage, play it
soft, loud, on your computer (certain PCs can have some weird default
playback characteristics) etc. Keep listening to your "competitors" CDs
and see if the over-all impression of your product comes across
effectively, given the time and budget you had to work with.
We can make everything as
consistent as you like, OR
leave things unique and different if that's what you're after. Think
about these things before you begin! How much time it takes to process
your music depends on how consistent the mixes are, how much
optimization of the Separations you'd
like, and how many songs there
are total. Twenty short songs totaling 45 minutes - takes longer than
ten longer songs totalling 45 minutes.
Now your mixes have more clarity,
consistency, and presence. You may hear subtle
that you forgot about. Due to the big CD volume contest, you may hear
less impact on the drums, or the eq may bring UP the impact of the
drums. The vocal may be more clear, as well as the hi-hat or guitars,
or you may hear more body in the middle instruments. The catch: you may
hear distortion that was masked in the track before - mastering tends
to reveal everything a little better.
may be perfect just the way it is. Or you may want some additional
creative changes like spacing in
between the songs, or a different fade. Be sure your key people listen
to the end product, as well as some fresh new ears or other
professionals who will listen.
KEY: We keep all the
for your project in the computer, and most changes are easy and
fairly fast to accomplish With a few clicks and turns - voila! But some
can be more involved.... it's depends on each project and how much
detail is appropriate for your budget. We've found that
especially with Separations, our clients tend to pay more attention to
detials, and tend to ask for more detailed (and subtle) changes. When
folks have the technology to work with, they usually do!
second master is made or the first one is perfect, we can
an Audio CDR master or a DDP master to send to the pressing plant
(check to see which format your pressing plant prefers). We
always make a backup
master of the approved
version for you to have for safekeeping. This isn't a big budget
consideration, but just remember we always make 2 masters. Your
music is worth being careful! Now you're on your way to having a
superb CD that will
sound great for a long time - and the ball is in your court to make it