Why should I mix and master my songs?
- Do you want your newly recorded song to sound as best as possible? On any playing device, be it a smartphone, headphones, earbuds, listeners' car speakers, hi-fi home theatre speakers, or your nearest Disco & Club monitor systems? Then the process of mixing and mastering is needed. Without mixing, your song won't convey the proper emotions. It will have less sonic balance and thus less impact on potential listeners.
What you mean by 'sounding as best as possible'?
- The process of mixing helps to fix many issues that come from:
- Raw recorded vocals. Vocals need to be cleaned from any possible noise that crept in during the recording process. The same vocals may have an excessive nasal sound, or the 'sssh' (sibilants) are too aggravating for the ear. Perhaps the explosive vocals like p's or t's sound too harsh or too in your face, without providing any musical quality to the song's overall mood or sonic experience.
- Drums sounds need to have their unique character depending on the genre. Maybe the kick sounds too low, and the bass masks its low-end frequency, so it loses its punch. Maybe the closed hi-hat is competing with the air quality in the vocals in the high-end of the spectrum. That live piano or digital synth that you recorded on your DAW has some ugly resonances that are hard to tame. You may have even tried to lower those freqs to discover that now the piano sounds dull and unemotional.
- If the mixing process wasn't tricky enough, add some tracks that include guitars, secondary synths, and a background choir. Each instrument needs its space and carving the sound so you can hear all the instruments. It's not an easy task. It certainly requires some knowledge and hands-on experience from a mixing engineer that has had to face and overcome these issues and plenty of others many times.
What is your mixing process?
- As a mixing engineer, the first thing that I always do is listen to the song, trying to notice what's going on in the raw audio you send to me. I try to feel the emotion that you want to convey in your song. If there are technical issues in the tracks sent that may jeopardize the mixing, I take note and communicate it to the artist. The goal is to find out the most agile and qualitative solution. After several more plays, I usually take notes of the predominant elements of the song. And what elements play a secondary role. Then I set up the project on my DAW, dumping the tracks, adding groups and buses as I see fit. I do some necessary track cleaning and set up a raw mix by setting up the volume faders and doing some panning (just as a test). I listen in mono and take notes of any frequency masking. I also add some effects: compression, EQ, reverbs, delays, flanger, or even a little bit of distortion here and there. I use to do some pauses to refresh my ears, take some fresh air on the terrace, or listen to other songs from different genres to make a reset. After this break, when I go back to work on the mix, I may notice some issues that I didn't perceive before. As I shape the mix, I become more surgical in my movements: some EQ subtracting, I fix more masking issues or add more presence to the vocals and drums. At this stage, I do almost all the fx automation except in a few cases where its use will bring a 'branding' value to the song, in which case I will add it in the beginning. I tend to keep an excellent dynamic range during the mixing and before the mastering process. Usually, if you have a perfect mix, it's near impossible to go wrong on the final stage of mastering.
What's the fuzz about mastering and why it's so important?
- The mastering process is critical to give more balance and character to the song. It can be achieved through different processes: tonal shaping with multiband compressors and limiters, analog emulation with tape gear, stereo widening, and also bringing the loudness perception to the required level depending on the platform where you want to upload your song, be it Spotify, Youtube, iTunes, Amazon Music, etc.
- Also, with mastering, you will achieve a cohesive sound between different songs if, for example, you plan to release an EP or Album. It would be too confusing and disturbing for any listener not to have a conductor thread in all the tracks. There can be remarkable variations in the sonic quality between songs, but what will give the album this unfolding story-like feeling will be some common elements that the mastering engineer has shaped and bring out to light according to the emotions and feelings that the artist rendered in the raw recording.
Can I do the mixing or mastering myself?
- Yes! Indeed, and I encourage you too! If you don't have the time to learn the trade, be it because you have a full-time job, kids, or a busy life, you have the option to hire someone to do the job for you and make your song sound amazing! I would suggest that no matter who you hire, look for someone who will listen to your opinions and provide constant feedback. That allows you to make a reasonable amount of revisions, so you are delighted with what you listen to coming from your speakers.
Okey, understood, so what you exactly offer in your mixing and mastering services?
- Besthiphopbeats.com offers mixing and mastering services as a bundle pack. As you can imagine, our specialty is in Urban Music, especially Hip Hop and Trap. We also love working with acoustic, even live material, and electronic music.
- Please check some of the examples above to discern if you like what you hear. It is easier to hire our mixing and mastering services if you like what you listen to in these examples.
- You will need to send me the tracks, and I'll start working on them right away (please check below in what conditions the track should be so we can do a good job).
So how much it costs to mix and master a song?
- The price is a flat amount of $100. If you choose to request mixing and mastering more songs in the same request, you'll get some price discount. Check the drop-down menu above near the Paypal button to check how many songs you can send in one request and what discount applies to them.
What you need to do to send me your tracks for Mixing and Mastering
- The most important is, of course, having your tracks recorded! Record each vocal take, the chorus, bridge, verse, etc. Also, record all the instruments: piano, guitar, drums, etc. For vocals, please record at some distance from the microphone and add an anti-pop filter. Ensure that the mic doesn't get much ambient noise. Try to record in an acoustically treated environment to avoid room nodes, excessive resonances, and other artifacts from creeping in the vocal take. Otherwise, it would be challenging to mix your tracks. I can do some cleaning, but if the tracks are poorly recorded, it's better to re-record them. It will be much easier to do a fantastic mix and master for your song. Also, check your levels, do not record too 'hot', and avoid clipping at all costs. The volume meter should be at -6dbs maximum, or there won't be enough dynamic range to give your vocals the right treatment. Try to record a couple or three takes for the main vocal and three more for the double voices and chorus. If possible, try to record in one single take of if you record different takes, do not let pass much time, as the voice quality changes along the day. If you do too many takes, your interpretation and energy may vary, which would make the voice takes sound too disjointed and not well integrated.
- A note about instrument tracks: many of you may have purchased the mp3 version. Mixing and Mastering an instrumental that only has one music track makes the mixing process more limited. The instruments cannot be treated in isolation, and you can affect little the synergies among the different instruments. I highly recommend that you try to get the tracked out files or stems of the beat you want to use.
- Now you have all your takes recorded! You must export them one by one using the appropriate option in your DAW. Please turn off all effects or plugins that you put on your tracks and master channel. I need the tracks to be raw to work my magic on them. You can send me a mix reference if you want, but that's not necessary. Please export in .Wav format 24-bit depth. Once you have all the tracks exported, compress them all under one .zip file and upload them to your google drive, Dropbox, Mega, etc. Then share your link so I can download them. If you prefer to send me the files via FTP, if you want an extra secure file exchange, please let me know.
If you have any doubt, please contact me on the chat at the bottom right, using the contact form on the top menu, or write an email to support(at)besthiphopbeats.com
Rest assured that we'll make your song sound amazing! :)