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Specializing in Music Mastering & Sound Production making music sound warm, yet still retain clarity. The term it’s the ear it’s not the gear is technically correct because experience is needed. However, you can have the best ears on the planet and if you can’t hear what is truly going on inside your Audio you will struggle to get your tracks translating correctly when played in different audio players. I use three or four different pairs of what I consider the best near field studio monitors to ensure every mix is correct. Having only one pair of studio monitors that cost a hefty price tag can have a weakness that another pair will make mistakes evident. It’s very nice to switch things up between world class studio monitors. If your mix sounds different when switching between monitors you have a problem that needs attention.
If you can’t hear your music properly while mixing it will never translate right when played thru various audio players. Achieving a great sounding audio mixdown for your songs requires a trained ear and the right studio monitor system for your room size.
If paying someone to mix or master your music always ask what brand studio monitors they are using. There is only a handful of studio monitor brands that excel way above the normal home studio monitor, although they carry hefty price tags.When striving for the best possible Mixing Accuracy I personally use and trust ATC professional powered studio monitors made in the UK along with high quality PSI Audio studio monitors made in Switzerland.
ATC and PSI monitors are almost forensic in detail and if there is a problem in the mix it will be evident. ATC and PSI Monitor systems can cost $5000 to $30,000 a pair and they believed to be some of the most accurate studio monitor brands in existence.
There are only a few other brand studio monitors on the market I would personally trust that I have not mentioned that can compare. With that said everyone is different and has a personnel preference. We have chosen ATC and PSI because they have developed serious technology driving their Active studio monitor systems. You can read about this here Active Studio Monitors vs Passive Studio Monitors.
Do you need subwoofers to mix music?The short answer is “yes” most definitely. However, this really depends on what type of studio monitors you are already using, the room size, placement, and if the subs you have are a perfect match and set up properly. If you have high end studio monitors and perfect matched pair of subs it will make a world of difference in any scenario. Subs also take a major load off your main monitors. Although much trial and error may be needed to find the right subs and set them up properly for your system. With this said, I use dual subs left and right in my studio setup.
Over compressing every single track – My experiences with the Pros.Unless you have a large budget your music usually gets the crap end of the deal becoming over compressed. Most professional studios when working with a budget artist I found use way too much compression as a quick fix all solution because they are on a time restriction. However, I use many multiple compressors mainly for their color, warmth and clarity. When mixing I generally use a lot of volume automation for each track. On the other hand, some Audio engineers are masters at using compression and can actually use it non sparingly without affecting the dynamics in detrimental ways that can be heard. These Audio engineers are few and far between.
Your Music Recordings verse a signed major label artist.The main reason most music never sounds the same as a professional CD from a signed artist is because you simply do not have a large enough budget. On the other hand home studio musicians today are doing a fantastic job mixing their own material. My advice is, always keep plenty of headroom room before mastering. In my mixes I use compression only where needed to warm up or add some magic to a individual instrument tracks. To control volume changes on orchestral instruments I tend to use volume automation much more than rely on compression. This does require much more time but the final outcome is far superior in many cases depending on the song. This also leaves much more headroom and a more natural overall sound for the mastering engineer to work without restriction.
Mixing and recording vocals is also a art form especially when using a cheaper vocal mic. Believe me when I say there is a major difference in quality when a top notch condenser mic is used verse a cheaper home studio mic. However, if using a cheaper mic when recording vocals, take your time and experiment because your vocal tracks can still sound impressive with cheaper mics.
Mixing and Mastering are two separate crafts.When paying someone it is usually bad practice using the same person to mix and then mastering your music. Two different professional sets of ears is always best. Keep in mind the correct studio monitors are the most important aspect to achieving a great sounding finished product. If they have inferior studio monitors your music will never sound good when played back on different audio devices and you will end up disappointed. There are literally thousands of people today acting as if they are mastering and recording engineers online. The vast majority of these so called professionals will over compress the crap out of your music squashing the dynamics by pumping up the volume level. Doing this is only tricking your ears the music sounds better louder, when in fact many times it actually sounds worse.
A Mastering Engineers job.
A mastering engineer’s job is applying the right amount of subtle EQ if needed. Applying the correct amount of compression depending on the genre of music, making sure your tracks will sound good and playback similar on all mediums including preparing your music for duplication etc. If a mix is bad, a professional mastering engineer will straight out tell you there is a problem and to correct it in the mix or they will suggest stem mastering. I have argued online with many so called professionals stating a mastering engineer’s job is not to make your music sound better. That is a hundred percent BS and only a amateur will tell you this. Remember, the better your mix down the better the mastering, so it’s always a good Idea to keep the process of mixing leaving headroom and keeping mastering separate.