While we can work with almost any file, no matter the quality, the best results can be achieved by following these guidelines:
Q. What are the best formats for my instrumentals (2 Tracks)?
A. 24 bit WAV of AIFF files are best. Any sample rate ranging from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz will provide the best results. Avoid mastered or finalized instrumentals/2 tracks to record to. Making a record loud is the final step & should only be carried out by your engineer. If the instrumental/2-track comes in smashed (looks like a block, no spikes or spikes are flat at the top) we will not be able to add much dynamics (make it knock). Once transients are lost there is no good way to bring them back, so let us handle getting it loud after your vocals have been added. That being said, SoundScape can always improve whatever comes in the door, even if it is a smashed MP3.
Q. What are the best formats for my multi-tracks?
A. 24 bit WAV or AIFF, (No 32 bit please). Keep the sample rate at what the program was running at when it was produced (44.1 kHz – 192 kHz). It is best to leave the sample rate conversion to our dedicated mastering software, as it has to end up at 44.1 kHz for C.D’s & MP3. Make sure that all instruments start at the same time (bar 1 or zero seconds). Avoid clipped or smashed individual instruments, let us handle getting it loud. If there was an effect that was on one of the instruments & you are un-sure if we will be able to re-create it here at the studio, then render one dry (no FX) & one with the effect (It can be hard to get a snappy snare when it is drenched with reverb). That being said, we can improve anything that comes in the door.
Q. What is the difference between mixing & mastering?
A. Both are very important and very different, & all songs must be both mixed & mastered. Great mastering can’t make up for a bad mix. Your favorite recordings were both carefully mixed & mastered. Mixing is very important, it is the stage where we make sure each individual instrument sounds its best & is at the right level in relation to the other instruments. This is where we make sure the vocal is clear & not muffled, the kick is punchy, the snare is bright & that the piano sounds like a piano. We also make sure when mixing a record that vocals are not buried in the mix or that the bass line isn’t masking the other instruments.
Once the mix is done, it is time to master the record. Mastering is the last opportunity to make sure the record is technically sufficient before going to the CD replicator or radio station. This is were we make sure that the record has the right amount of bass & treble, as well as making sure it is as loud as you want.
Q. I am happy with my mix (that was NOT done @ SoundScape) & I want you to master my record, what should I bring?
A. You can’t master from a ProTools or Logic file, as we might not have the same plug-ins or out-board gear therefore; the mix would be different here from where you mixed your session at. Ideally, you want to bring in a 24 bit WAV or AIFF file that has no audio peaks greater than -4 dBFS (No red clip lights please) & has no finalizing (Waves L2 or Maxim) or baby mastering (T.C Finalizer or MasterX) added to it by the mix engineer. 90% of all engineers add something to make mixes “baby mastered” so the client has something that sounds like a finished record, so make sure you also get a “bounce” with the previously mentioned processors by-passed. There should be plenty of headroom & no distortion. That being said, we have had many clients lose their original WAV files & we had to master from an MP3 & we still achieved fine results. If you are unsure if your mixes are ready to be mastered, please SendSpace the files you wish to have mastered & we can take a look at them & make sure they are ready & that you get the most bang for your buck.
Q. I record my vocals at home, what can be done to improve them?
A. The biggest problem I find with home recorded vocals is not so much the fact that the Mic or the Mic Pre is not top of the line, but that little attention is placed on room acoustics. With cheap Chinese manufacturing, almost all mics are decent these days, so that isn’t usually the problem. The big problem is treatment of the space around the mic. Pro studios like ours have thick walls, high ceilings, foam lined duct work, no buzz or hum on the electronics and most important NO GREY FOAM on the walls. Foam only zaps high frequency detail, leaving your vocals dark sounding. Pro studios use Owens Corning 705 which absorbs bass, mids & treble equally. You will never see foam on the walls of a world class studio. If you want to invest in real acoustic treatment, call Sal @ Acoustimac and tell him Kolar sent you. www.acoustimac.com
A few odds & ends:
- Make sure you download your files before you start your session, why pay us? Same thing goes for getting your files out of Reason, Logic, Garage Band, etc.
- Practice, Practice, Practice before you get to the studio. As much as we would love to rack up a long session, we want our clients to be productive & get a lot of bang for their buck. So many times people think they are ready for their session when that is far from the truth.
- Make sure all your gear works & is fully functional. Make sure your guitar is tuned & hanew strings. Is your amp buzzing? Fix it before you get here. Is that old ZIP drive for your MPC 2000 still working? Make sure before the clock starts. Put some new heads on your drum set.
- If you consider yourself a professional recording artist, that means you always back-up your files to a hard drive or USB stick that you own at the end of your session.
- When in doubt call us, we are here to help! Communication is key.