Audio Services FAQ

Payment

My rates are very reasonable and I try to keep the cost competitive wherever possible. The cost of a project is based on various factors so it’s always best to get in touch for a quote.

Mixing starts from £60 a song. Mastering from £25 a song.

I can take bank transfer, cash or cards via PayPal.

On-location recording

Payment is taken 50% up front and the remaining balance before the final mixes are released to you.

Mixing

For multiple song projects I will invoice you 50% after the first song has been mixed and you are happy to proceed, and the remainder at the end of the project.

If you are sending one song only, or you would like me to mix one song at a time, I will invoice you for payment before I release the final masters to you.

Note: no final recordings are released without full payment.

Mixing

A lot of musicians are on a budget, and recording is the most time consuming and therefore expensive phase of creating a record. Many musicians are also quite familiar with recording equipment, so it often makes sense to record yourself or your band using your own or someone else’s borrowed gear.

It’s definitely true that a good record starts with a good recording, and if it’s not good, then no amount of mixing will save it, but if you’ve done a fair job of recording yourself, you may find that you just don’t have the ear or knowledge and skills to mix it satisfactorily. Perhaps you’ve tried to mix it and it just isn’t coming out right. That’s where getting your material mixed professionally can really help, and it’s not nearly as expensive as hiring a studio.

Here are just some of the things a good mixing engineer will be able to help you with…

  • A fresh pair of (experienced) ears! Being able to discern what frequencies and instruments are causing your mix problems and fixing them with balance, EQ and compression.
  • Creating a better stereo image using panning, EQ and effects.
  • Identifying phase issues and correcting them to create a bigger, clearer sound.
  • Making drums punchier and getting more thump into a kick.
  • Separate the problem areas where instruments overlap and tend to mask eachother, such as the kick and bass, multiple vocals, or guitars.
  • Add effects and polish to the record to make it pop in the choruses, or to give the record a particular sound or space.
  • If required, I can act as a producer and help with the arrangement of the song, adding (or removing) instruments as required to fill it out or tweak the sound.

  • Once we’ve discussed your mixing project and agreed a price, I will provide you with a Dropbox folder for your project. You can upload your files to the folder and any completed work will also be made available in that folder. You won’t need a Dropbox account for this, but I recommend you get a free account anyway.
  • Alternatively, if you want to send me a track for a try-before-you-buy, please click here to send a file via WeTransfer.
  • Mixing doesn’t begin until I am satisfied that all required files have been uploaded and in the right format with accompanying notes and reference tracks.

  • Files should be WAV or AIFF format at either 44.1 or 48 KHz.
  • Songs should be no longer than 6 minutes.
  • I don’t accept DAW sessions, so please export your audio files and ensure they are all the same length, starting at bar 1 beat 1 of each song.
  • Please ensure none of your files clip, and provide me with a good amount of headroom to mix. Try and leave at least 3 db headroom.
  • Please print any virtual instruments / MIDI to audio files.
  • Provide a rough mix of your own for me to reference
  • Provide a reference track that you’d like your record to sound like
  • It’s not essential, but it’s often good to have dry guitar and bass tracks for re-amping if necessary alongside processed guitar and bass tracks.
  • Please provide tracks free of effects unless the effect is integral to the sound of the track. You can include them in your rough mix and written project notes for guidance.
  • Provide as much written information as you can to help me get as close to your vision for the song as possible.

If minor and few, I may correct the odd issue here and there, but you should really provide your tracks ready to mix. If I have to spend additional time editing your files this will eat into mixing time, and I may have to charge you extra. If you want me to edit your files before mixing, that can be arranged.

I provide you with a limited MP3 to audition the mix. When you’re happy and all revisions are complete, I will provide you with the following:

  • An unlimited master
  • An unlimited backing track
  • An unlimited a cappella track
  • If you have ordered mastering, I will provide mastered versions as well.

Turnaround time is 1-3 days per track.

I provide 1 revision as part of the agreed price. In my experience this is all that is required providing you can be specific and comprehensive when you provide your tweaks and comments. An example of a specific tweak is “can you reduce the reverb on the snare?” or “make the vocals a little louder on the chorus”. Rather than vague comments like “I’m not really feeling it”, or “it’s not making my head bob yet!”

After the 1st revision, I will charge for additional revisions.

Major changes of direction will be classified as a new job.

I try not to take people’s money for something they’re not happy with, however I don’t work for free and I expect clients to respect my expertise and time in the same way that I respect my clients’ time and money.

The first time we work together, when the first song is mixed, and the first revision complete, if you’re not happy, you have the option to walk away and I won’t charge you a penny.

If you do like the first track, then chances are high that we’ll be able to work together and I should be able to provide an end result that everyone will be happy with.

If during the course of a multiple-song project there are songs that you’re unhappy with after the 1st revision, extra revisions will be chargeable.  However, I will do my level best to ensure that I hit the mark for you for every track.

I believe that equipment is important, but not as important as skill and experience. It’s the latter that will make your recording sound great. No amount of amazing gear will make your record sound good if the engineer doesn’t know how to mix.

I mix in the box using a Mac with Apple Logic X with cutting edge plugins from the likes of Waves, Native Instruments, XLN Audio, IK Multimedia and many more. I use Presonus Studiolive mixers and Yamaha monitors.

I use instruments by Yamaha, PRS, Roland, Tokai and Spector.

I use mics by AKG, Shure, Sennheiser, Rode, SE Electronics.

My background is mainly in rock and indie, but I’ve also done a lot of folk and singer-songwriter kind of material.

I’m also happy working with jazz, funk, pop, blues, reggae, country.

If you’re making rap, R&B, dance or any kind of electronica, that’s not really my area, and you should perhaps look elsewhere. Likewise, if your music is classical, that’s not really my area of expertise.

Yes. I can play all of the above as well as keyboard. I’m a play-by-ear musician and can usually pick things up very quickly. Extra parts on the song can be added during an on-location recording session at no extra charge, although extra work on the arrangement and instrumentation as part of a mixing project will be charged by the hour.

Your recordings will be provided in WAV or AIFF and high quality MP3.

Note: no recordings are released without full payment.

Sorry nope. As much as I like electronic music sometimes, it’s not my particular area of expertise. This includes rap, R&B, dance/house, dubstep, some pop etc.

Mastering

Mastering is a final stage of polishing and tweaking your songs to make them ready for release. It involves mainly EQ, compression, and limiting among other things. All songs need at least some mastering, if only to make them loud enough as an end product. You can read more about mastering here. Mastering can be done in-house or if you prefer, I can deliver your songs ready for mastering elsewhere.

I am a fan of Dynamic Range. That means I recognise that music sounds better when it’s got more dynamic range! Dynamic range is the difference between the quietest and loudest sounds in your track. If you want your masters super loud, that usually means squashing the life right out of the music. I can make your songs like that if you want, but there’s really no point. Why?

Because…

  • Radio stations compress your music
  • iTunes level matches your music
  • Services like Spotify level match your music.
  • DJs level match their music.
  • Most people just reach for a volume control if they want to hear it louder or quieter.

Given all of the above, when played at the same volume as very heavily limited songs, your music will sound BETTER if it has more dynamic range. All of this doesn’t mean I mix your songs quiet – they’ll be at good industry-acceptable levels, and at the end of the day, I’ll do what you ask for. This is just my two-pence.

It’s important to prepare your stereo mix-master for mastering in the following ways:

  • Remove all mix-buss processing including EQ and compression.
  • Ensure your song doesn’t peak higher than -5db at it’s loudest point. This is essential to allow headroom for mastering.
  • Name your tracks with the artist name and then then song title, like this: Artist Name – Song Title.
  • Your file should be a 24bit stereo WAV or AIFF file without normalisation, or fades.
  • You can send your files using WeTransfer. Alternatively, I can send a file upload request for Dropbox.

Some reference songs are always good if there’s a particular sound or level you’re shooting for.

It’s good to know about any fades you might want. How long and start and end times.

Any gaps you would like at the beginning and end.

Anything in particular that you’d like done in the mastering process.

You’ll receive your mastered songs as either 16/24bit 44.1KHz/48KHz Wav or AIFF files. Dithered and ready to go to disk or converted to MP3 etc. I master music to allow for conversion to MP3 to avoid digital distortion.

I don’t add track names or any of that redbook CD prep sort of thing – I’ll leave that for your distribution people.

On Location Recording

I would usually record between 1-3 songs per day session, but this depends on their complexity, the size of the band, how long it takes to get the right takes for each performer and whether we’re recording live or multi-tracking.

Preparation is key – get your songs practiced and tight so you don’t have to do lots of takes. Warm up your voice before coming to the studio. Make sure you have all your guitar or synth sounds just as you want them for each song.

Bring everything you would bring to a gig – your instruments, amps, effects, mics, cables, and mic stands.

I will bring a selection of mics, cables, my recording rig and a multi fx POD unit just in case.

Multi-tracking or overdubbing is where we build up the song one (or sometimes more) instruments at a time.

Pros:

  • This allows greater control over the quality and sound of a performance – minimising mistakes and providing the producer with more time to concentrate on getting the sound just right.
  • It minimises or eliminates mic-bleed (mics picking up other sound sources in the room).
  • It usually means there’s a greater choice of gear to use as it’s not spread thin trying to capture a live performance all at once.
  • Parts can be cut and pasted without noticeable artifacts, or different takes can be ‘comped’ to make a perfect take.
  • Tempo remains more consistent due to recording to a click track.
  • Not all the musicians need be present throughout the entire recording session and can come in and out as required.

Cons:

  • It is far more time consuming (and therefore costly) than live recording as each instrument may require multiple takes.
  • It may not bring the best performances out of your band if you’re used to feeding off each other’s energy during a performance.
  • It is more difficult to make a multitrack recording sound like it was performed live. It may lack a certain ambience or cohesion that a live recording would have.
  • Not everyone excels at playing to a click track or backing track.

Live recordings are where a band or performer is recorded as a whole, either at a concert, gig or in a private studio space. Live recordings have a number of cool things going for them, but some drawbacks too…

Pros:

  • A band usually performs better when they play together.
  • If a band is tight and well rehearsed, it can take much less time to get tracks recorded in a studio than with multi-tracking, and therefore cost less.
  • A whole gig’s worth of material can be recorded in one go. If the performances are good, this can be a cost-effective way of recording a lot of songs.
  • Live performances usually contain a lot of mic-bleed. This is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how its being controlled. At best, it can lend a great sound to a recording and give a sense of the band playing together live. Certain genres of music really benefit from this live sound.

Cons:

  • Mistakes can be harder to detect when recording a band live
  • Sometimes, even if a band is well rehearsed, it may take a while to get a good take, particularly if the band is picky or chasing something elusive from a performance.
  • Playing a song over and over sometimes results in a less than passionate performance.
  • A concert is a cheap way to record a lot of songs, but since there’s no option to repeat a song, it will be a warts-and-all kind of affair. The engineer only gets one shot at recording each song.
  • If undesirable mic bleed is discovered after the recording process, it can be difficult to work with or eradicate. Sometimes, further recording is required.

I’ll be happy to discuss your project with you to determine what would work best for you.

Absolutely! The reasons you chose it are important though, and worth looking at. For example, the most important factor is the sound of the space you’ve found; not it’s dimensions or the fact that there’s a pool table and a bar.

Studios have acoustically treated spaces which gives the engineers more control over the finished sound. However, if you love the sound that a space makes when you or your band is playing there, that can be a great way to capture a live performance and give it a unique sound. It’s also important that you feel comfortable in order to bring out the best performance possible.

Yes.

  • Will you have complete privacy?
  • Is there any ambient background noise that could be picked up on a recording?
  • If it’s a studio, can you source equipment that might be useful?
  • Will all your band members fit in the space with all their gear?
  • Is there room to be flexible with positioning of performers and equipment?
  • Are there any undesirable sonic qualities in the space that may need to be dealt with?

I can, but it depends on the scale of the project. Please contact me to discuss your project.