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mixing:sending track outs
The preferred method of sending your tracks over to me is by sending each individual track as a WAV or AIFF (AIF) file that spans the entire length of the song. These files should be exported at a resolution of at least 44.1 kHz / 24-bit. There is no need to convert your files to a higher sample rate if your session was set to 44.1 kHz as the conversion process won't "add" anything to your signal.
Avoid using compressed file formats such as mp3, m4a, or wma as they provide lower quality audio and often cause synchronization issues.
The best way to make sure that I can start mixing your tracks right away is having all files named in an easily readable and sortable manner. They should have a prefix denoting the instrument or part, and, in case of multiple mics on one source, a suffix to denote what separates them from similar tracks. Skip the song name unless sending several songs worth of tracks - if so, add it as a suffix after the instrument and track name. Don't worry about using underscores as spacers, I don't have any issue with spaces in track names.
GTR E lead guitar verse SM57.wav
GTR E lead guitar verse Room.wav
D snare bottom.wav
V lead verse dub.wav
Check out this article for a more detailed guideline on how to name your tracks.
Please bypass any insert effects and sends that are not absolutely crucial to the sound of any specific instrument or voice and this can complicate mixing or necessitate re-sending these files later on in the process. This includes any compression, reverbs, modulation effects. etc.
Please do keep any effects that are specifically part of the tone of a specific track. For example, a flanger on a guitar part, a very specific delay that serves to make your guitar riff what it is, a side-chain effect on a pad sound, etc.
Vocal tracks should be fully comped, edited, and tuned before handing them over for mixing. If vocal production is needed this would need to be discussed in advance.
I trust your judgement on this and will reach out to you with any questions on specific processing chains if needed.
mixing:sending project files
If you are working in Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton, Reaper, or GarageBand, you can also send project files directly. However, this should only be done if your projects are very well organized and any virtual instruments and/or necessary plug-in effects have been committed (rendered in place) to audio. While I have a large selection of plug-ins, some of the ones you're using may not overlap with my existing arsenal. Thus, it's essential to have those processing chains printed if they are integral to the song's sound.
include all audio files
another requirement is that all audio files referenced in the project be present. To achieve this in Logic, make sure to save your project as a package and make sure that audio files get copied into the project upon saving. For Ableton, click File > Collect All and Save to make sure all samples and recordings get stored inside the project folder.
Once your files are saved, wrap the entire project folder as a ZIP file and send it to me via WeTransfer or my online upload portal to which you will have received an invitation.
Spatial Audio:file delivery for mixing
If your song will be mixed by me in both stereo and Spatial audio you won't have to worry about delivering additional files. I will transfer the necessary stems between the stereo and Spatial Audio projects.
If you are sending a fully-mixed song for re-mixing in Spatial Audio, you will need to prepare stems of your song as WAV or AIF files that span the entire length of the project as well as a copy of the mastered stereo recording as a mix and timing reference.
These stems can range from each individual instrument to whole busses/sub-groups of parts depending on how much Spatial granularity you wish to achieve. To put it simply, getting each guitar part as an individual stem would allow me to position them all around the listener while a stereo stem would only let me adjust width and position of the entire group of guitars.
Specific instruments like drums which generally stay within the front speakers (LCR) can be bussed together as a stereo file.
time-based processing (reverb / delay)
Generally, any time-based processing except essential delays or mono reverbs should not be printed into your stems but can be sent as individual stems for reference or direct implementation.
Keeping reverb and delay separate from the dry stems will allow me to add full surround reverbs or to separate the reverb and dry signals spatially. For example, if you were trying to simulate a live show-like experience, reverb could bounce off the virtual back wall, simulating the acoustics of a club.
mastering:sending your songs
All that's needed for mastering is the stereo bounce of your mix as a WAV or AIF file rendered in 24-bit or 32-bit float and at your original project sample rate.
The file should not be clipping (output meter reading 0 dB or anything above it) and ideally peak at -1 dB or below.
mix buss do's & dont's
If you're like me, then you love mixing with a buss compressor on your master track. That's totally fine for me! What can make mastering very difficult though is when your mix buss is absolutely slammed in terms of dynamic range compression. Dial in your buss compressor to achieve -1 dB of gain reduction during the loudest part of your song and make sure it doesn't cause any noticeable "pumping" of the mix.
One thing to definitely avoid before the mastering stage is any brick wall limiting or gratuitous soft clipping. While I do like the sound of soft-clipping, introducing this in the mixing phase might lead to some difficulties during mastering. As a rule of thumb, the perceived loudness of your mix should primarily result from compression and saturation of your individual tracks and busses with some subtle buss processing to glue things together.