FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can you also master my songs for digital distribution and CD replication?
We have always used professional mastering houses, and we've never mastered records before.
You want an experienced, established, and reputable mastering entity to ready your labor of love for the pressing plant and digital distribution. We can recommend mastering studios.
We work with real mastering houses that have decades of experience and Grammy Awards on the wall, charge about $50 a song for mastering, and for a little more money, you get a DDP master file done that's ready to send to the pressing plant.
Here’s why you want an additional set of experienced ears working on your project in a dedicated mastering studio.
Short story longer: In an emergency, such as when time has completely run out... yes, but we hate doing this, mostly because we are NOT a mastering house. By the way, most recording studios / engineers that say they are mastering enities... aren't really. And don’t fall for the “mastering online” sales pitch, either.
Before we send songs out for mastering, we do full mastering pre-flight routine (level / artifacts / format check, proper song order & titles, gap-between-songs specs, and final “dry run” through Waveburner software for a final TRIPLE check of files), and that is included as a final phase of the mixing process, but... the LSRR is not, repeat, NOT a mastering house.
Here's a great run-through of what an experienced mastering engineer does on just one song:
What's With All These Crazy File Formats?
Different horses for different courses. Here's some definitions of various file formats we all deal with at various points in the mixing/mastering process. Thanks to mastering outfit Storybook Sound, where this list was cribbed from:
Production Master CD – CD ready for duplication (+300 runs of CDs) or replication (-300 CD-Rs)
Reference CD – Generally used for listening tests
DDP Image – All-in-one audio master plus CD-Text (song titles, performers, songwriters, more)
Vinyl side-splits – 24 bit, 44.1khz to 192khz for audiophiles
24 bit, high-resolution files – for online distribution, a la Bandcamp, iTunes, etc.
Analog tape – Possibly best archival medium
MP3, AAC, or other digital audio formats – for reference or internet delivery
PQ Sheet – to reference CD-Text, ISRC codes, etc.
Can we all play live in the studio?
Yes. That is often one of our main goals; it is to be encouraged. Live tracks with acoustic guitars is possible; remember that if you are singing a foot away from your guitar that the mic on the guitar will pick up your voice as well, and that recording acoustic guitar in the same room as a loud drum set is difficult. Acoustic guitar basic tracks often have to be replaced by overdubbing them later. But not necessarily.
Playing live in the studio will yield the best results when it’s done by a band that has gigged, performed, and rehearsed itself nearly to death. If a band is being thrown together just before the recording session, don’t expect things to go quickly unless each and every one of the players are seasoned professionals. Even then, it takes TIME, more than you think, to learn, arrange, and then perform/record songs in the studio, as opposed to beforehand.
How long will it take to record my music?
For mixing, three to four hours per song at least is the general rule. A guitarist-singer who has their tunes down can track hours of live stuff in one day, mix it all the same day and have a decent live demo. Depends what you are looking for. Some projects go faster, some slower. Always add time to your estimates. One important component in this whole equation: Pre-Production.