FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We’ve answered many of your commonly asked questions below on how our online mixing, mastering and production process works. Additionally we highlight tips on how to best prepare your songs for submission to our online mixing, mastering and production services.
What is the difference between mixing and mastering?
Mixing involves taking many different tracks or stems and defining particular space for each element in the song. This is traditionally done through eq, compression, reverb, etc. These tracks are then usually combined into a single stereo track which can then be mastered.
Mastering is the final step to ensure all tracks will sound sonically similar and coherent on the album. Mastering will also help with reproducible playback on a variety of different playback systems (ear buds, car system, club PA, etc.). Mastering also makes your music louder, radio ready, and more 3-dimensional and impactful. Mastering helps to gel the instruments together to make a song that has movement without compromising its sonic integrity.
How long does it take to mix or master a song?
Depending on the complexity and number of stems, songs can typically be mixed between 2-5 days. Albums can take anywhere from 5-15 days depending on workload and complexity.
Mastering usually takes less time with song turn around time around 1-3 days and albums usually taking less than 5 days.
Can I hear a sample of my music mixed or mastered?
Unfortunately, we cannot provide free mixing or mastering samples since this significantly reduces our turn around time. We pride ourselves with our outstanding customer service, so rest assured you will love your final product (and remember you get 10 days of unlimited revisions!). Listen to some mixes or masters from our previous clients and hear for yourself why so many choose Raytown Productions as their go to online mixing and mastering studio!
Will you remix my song for free if I didn't like the mix or master?
Absolutely! For 10 days, we will remix/master your songs for free to make sure you get the highest quality product possible.
Will you Auto-Tune my vocals?
Yes, but pitch correction or Auto-Tune isn’t included in the standard mixing & mastering services. Auto-Tuning or pitch correcting vocals is considered post-production. However, if you submit a vocal track that has Auto-Tune already processed on the track, we will gladly mix this at no extra charge.
What is the difference between mixing and post production?
Mixing and mastering service: I mix & master sounds that you create.
Post production: I create new sounds or effects (like Auto-Tune or adding keys strings), drum replacement, or song arrangement changes) that weren’t included in the submitted audio files.
What is a stem?
A stem is one or more tracks or elements mixed down into a single stereo track. For example, a chorus vocal part may consist of 10 different vocal tracks but a chorus vocal stem would only contain 1 stereo vocal track.
All stems should start from the exactly same starting point (beginning of the song) and finish at the end of the song – EVEN if it is just silence! This is very important since we will not be able to align the stems if they don’t all start at EXACTLY THE SAME SPOT.
How do I prepare my song for mixing or mastering?
You can watch this video which does a great job explaining the premastering process and why these steps are important. Basically, there are five big rules to follow:
- Export in an uncompressed file format (.wav or .aiff) at the sample rate and bit depth you produced your music.
- Leave silence (about 4-6 bars or around 5 sec) before and after the track.
- Remove any effects on the main output bus (or upload two versions – one with the effects and one without).
- Make sure there is at least -3 dbfs of headroom (-6 dbfs preferred!).
- Turn off “Normalization” and Dithering” when exporting the mix or stems for mastering. For visual reference, your stems should look like the “Good” image below:
What are the file requirements to meet the specifications for "Mastered for iTunes"?
iTunes recommends your uploaded files should be encoded in an uncompressed format with a sampling rate of 96 kHz at 24-bit depth with a peak max at -6 dbfs, however files recorded with 44.1 kHz at 24-bit and higher will work. Do not upconvert your files if they weren’t recorded at higher sampling rates.
Should I keep plugins or effects on the stems or mixes?
It really depends on the project. For mixing, if you are using a plugin to achieve a specific sound or vibe, yes please prepare the stems with the effect on.
Typically, under no circumstances should you submit mixes for mastering with any effects on the output bus on your DAW as this will reduce the available headroom in the song making it very difficult to master. If you like the sound with effects on the output bus, please mix down both versions and upload them both. Adjust the peak audio signal to no higher than -3 dbfs (-6 dbfs perferred!) on the output bus.
What types of files do you support for mixing and mastering?
Please send the highest quality files possible. The best files are uncompressed formats such as:
.wav .ogg .flac .aiff
We do not recommend sending .mp3s to be mixed or mastered since their quality has been greatly reduced, however, great results may still be obtained.
Typically stereo files are recorded with a sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz at 24 bits. Try to maintain this standard rate if possible. Higher sampling rates can be mixed and mastered as well (48, 88.2, 96, even 192 kHz), but ensure the stems or mix has been exported at the same sampling rate and bit depth it was recorded at. For example, if you used 24 bit samples at 48 kHz, please export at those settings to an uncompressed file format.
How do I export stems from my digital audio workstation (DAW)?
How do I organize my files for uploading?
To keep turn around times down, please follow the specific organization described below. The picture below shows the general layout for organizing your files for upload:
Now all you have to do is create a .zip file of your artist folder and upload it. For a mac, right click on the folder and choose “Compress”. On a PC, right click on the folder and choose “Send to” then pick “Compressed (zipped) folder”.
If all else fails, send us an e-mail on the contact page and we will help you out!
My internet is slow and it will take forever to upload my songs!
No problem! You can always mail us the files on CDs/DVDs or a USB flash drive. Just make sure to package it well! Send us a message on our contact page and we will set you up!
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