What are your rates?
There are always plenty of variables with each project, so all projects are custom-quoted. Please contact me and tell me about your project in as much detail as you please, and I will get back to you with more information. I may have questions for you, but I will be prompt in giving you answers and laying out your options. I'm excited to work with you!
How do you determine your rates?
For mastering, rates depend on the total length of your project, the number of songs, the intended publishing formats, and a few other aspects. The same rate is charged for all projects up to 30 minutes, but there are special discounted rates for singles. After 30 minutes, the rate incrementally increases with duration.
For mixing, rates depend on a combination of the number of multi-tracks in your songs, how many songs there are, how long they are, and if you have any special requests as far as vocal tuning, drum editing, audio repair, aditional production, deadline, etc.
For original musical productions or music videos, rates are typically according to the projected amount of work involved based on your requests and ideas. (Duh.)
For audio and/or video post-production projects, sometimes the rate is hourly, and at other times it is based on the length of your desired final product, depending on the nature of your production and the tasks at hand.
Can I use the same files for multiple media formats, therefore saving some cash?
In many cases, the answer is no. But there are exceptions.
For instance, you can use digital masters as CD WAVs, but only if your mixes were 16-bit, and only if your manufacturer doesn't require DDP files.
You can also use your digital masters for your cassettes, but ordering a cassette sequence of your album maintains the spacing between tracks (if any) exactly as you intend them, preventing any devices from adding space or crossfading.
If you have any specific question on this topic,
send me a message. I would be glad to help you minimize your costs.
Do you offer free test masters?
It's the best way to prove to you that I can provide high quality, powerful and captivating masters of YOUR music in particular. It's the only way I can really show you that I listen deeply, and take in every detail of your music, and then artistically, intuitively, skillfully dial in the correct settings to bring out what you put into it.
I don't think that listening to examples of my past work is the best way to show what I can do. If you are listening to masters of suffering mixes, you aren't hearing what I'm capable of with beautifully performed and prepared material. And if you are listening to masters of mixes or productions that were top-notch, you're hearing an instance in which the client has made my job much easier. So either way, you still don't really know what I can do!
But you know
your music inside and out. Hearing what I can do with
your passion-filled creation, regardless of the recording and production quality, is a more personal experience for you, because it communicates directly to you. It's awesome to be able to offer that experience for no charge!
Most of the time, I can't provide free test mixes. Even a 10 second test mix could take 4 or 5 hours to set up and produce, depending on the complexity of your production. But if you are working on something in which there are 5 multi-tracks or less,
go ahead and drop me a line and I will see if I can help you.
What is mixing and mastering?
Mixing is an incredibly nuanced, multi-dimensional process in which two or more (usually more) audio sources are layered together, adjusted in an endless amount of possible ways, so that the full experience is cohesive and emotionally resonant, with each element occupying an ideal space in the stereo field, frequency spectrum, and volume.
Each element relates to each other element, like in a building or sculpture, so everything needs to be in its place, and fulfilling its role, to keep the thing standing. Mixing is a creative process, but also very technical.
Mastering is the very last process in the post-production phase before the audio is published or put onto physical formats (besides the final mastering that a vinyl cutting engineer will do). Mastering optimizes, refines, and sometimes vastly enhances or improves the audio. It not only dials in the most effective overall parameters for the entire recording, but it also focuses in on individual events if anything special is needed. Even the best-mixed records in the world are still mastered with great care, and the worst-mixed records are still improved with a great mastering job.
Mixing and mastering are both about achieving balance, consistency, clarity in different ways. But the audible characteristics are just one side of the job. The other side is getting your project up to par with the required industry standards for file format, bit rate, sample rate, embedded text, and other under-the-hood specs.
What is stem mastering? Can you do it?
Stem mastering is a little bit like mixing, but in a much simpler form, combined with the mastering process. Sometimes artists want to give the mastering engineer just a little bit more control over the music, rather than just having a left and right channel at their disposal. In stem mastering, often the engineer will be able to adjust the level or EQ curve of the drums, guitars, synths, vocals, or other generalized groups of elements, entirely separate from the rest.
I do offer stem mastering. Please get in touch for a quote.
Can you edit my podcast?
Absolutely! I regularly edit discussions, interviews, and other audio and video recordings meant for podcast distributors, YouTube, audiobooks, etc. I can also apply titles, transitions, and other basic elements to your footage if you have a video podcast. I'm also able to clean up your picture, as well as filter out various types of artifacts and noise.
How do I pay you?
I will send you an invoice via email reflecting the project you and I will have discussed. It will be a Paypal invoice, but you can use a credit or debit card if you do not want to use a Paypal account.
For most smaller projects I require 100% of payment up front. For larger projects or under special circumstances I will do a half up-front/half when it's done deal.
To start any project you must make a payment. You can only receive the final product once the total has been fully paid. All deposits are non-refundable because a deposit starts the job. However, on the rare occasion a project needs to be terminated, partial refunds are determined on a case-by-case basis.
How do I prepare my files? What kind of files do you require?
For all projects, send the highest quality and resolution version of whatever you're working with. Preferably 24-bit WAV files. 32-bit is okay too, but they will be converted (safely) in the end. Try to avoid lossy formats. If another band member or your engineer has higher quality files, please seek them out before beginning your project with me.
Please make sure there is little to no processing on your master buss, especially heavy compression or any limiting whatsoever. If you insist on sending compressed pre-masters to maintain an ideal sound, please consider sending a raw version as well. Too much processing on the master buss will limit what I can do for you, and may greatly hinder my ability to give you the best master possible. There is no need to worry that I won't compress your production as much as you want it compressed. Just communicate, and you will not be stuck with something you don't love.
Please make sure your audio files have headroom and do not clip. Do not normalize them. At least 3db of headroom is preferred, but even 0.1db will do.
Make sure all of your file & folder submissions are labeled correctly with official titles or descriptive terms. I'm sorry to say that "mix_for_angel.wav" & "NEW_SONG_STEMS_FINAL_v4" are unhelpful. 😬
Any file sharing service is OK. You can also ship a USB drive or data CD.
How will you deliver the final product?
I will send you high quality files that pertain to your intended formats using a free file sharing service. With most jobs, I work with WAV files, and use WeTransfer. (Their art exhibits on the download and upload pages are usually really cool.)
For files over 2GB, I will use Google Drive. If you'd like me to send USB Drives or data CDs in the mail, I can do that for a fee.
Can you produce original music for me, or help me produce my own?
I absolutely can!
I play guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and synthesizers, and I also experiment with altered and repurposed electronics of various kinds. I'm an electronic music producer, and have produced, mixed, and often mastered lengthy, dense compositions in which I've performed or programmed every element.
I have experience in a multitude of genres and musical communities. I've produced pop, R&B, hip hop, industrial, new age, jazz fusion, vaporwave, emo/screamo, black and death metal, noise, grind, folk, drone and ambient, hardcore and post-hardcore, rock and post-rock, punk and post-punk, and even a few country numbers! My strength is in music that is off the path a bit... experimental, progressive, etc.
I've produced jingles for podcasts and advertisements, instrumentals for rappers and singers, and have contributed production to other artist's unfinished albums.
Please get in touch with your story, and I will give you the full spiel on how I can help you.
Do you master for vinyl?
Mastering for vinyl is quite different from mastering for other formats. There are certain key factors involved, and masters for other formats will likely not properly translate to vinyl without introducing the risk of distortion, needle tracking problems, or other issues.
If your album is already mastered and released on one or more formats, but you'd like your album mastered for vinyl for the first time, it is always preferred that your original mixes are mastered for vinyl rather than having your current master
adjusted for vinyl. If you don't have access to your mixes anymore, I can still
optimize your masters to be
vinyl-friendly, but it will not be a completely authentic mastering-for-vinyl job.
It is recommended to have the same mastering engineer do your vinyl and digital masters, if that engineer offers both services. One of the main aspects of mastering is cohesion & consistency, and having different engineers in different studios mastering your album for different formats can disrupt that.
Vinyl masters are technically “vinyl pre-masters” (digital files). In the mastering world, the “master” is actually referring to the physical acetate disc used to press your records, and that is usually handled by your pressing plant.
I lost the files you sent me months ago. Can you resend them?
After 30-60 days I transfer all projects to a secure cloud server with monetized download bandwidth. If you need to access your project after then, I charge an hourly rate to download it, extract what you need, and upload it for you.
Will my music be ready for publishing after mixing or mastering?
Your mixed music should, 100% of the time, be mastered in some capacity. Even if you are just producing a demo entirely on your own, with an intention of only showing your friends, a minimum number of mastering-related tasks should be performed for the sake of eliminating problems from the playback and monitoring experience.
Your mastered music will always be ready for release, but the overall sound quality does depend on the quality of the mixes.
What gear and software do you use?
As much as I love talking gear and plug-ins, I don't list any of it on my website. The sound quality of my work speaks for itself. I do not want to be identified with gear rather than results. I do not keep what I use a secret, as you'll see a bunch of gear and plug-ins in the website photos, and I occasionally bring up gear in interviews and articles. However I don't name-drop brands and models as a means for advertising my services. I can assure you that among what I use you'll find high-quality resources, revered in the industry, and more than sufficient for the job. What truly matters is how one uses such resources- always.
I've heard incredibly well-produced projects using only free plug-ins and closed-back headphones, and I've heard lifeless butchered mixes mastered in high end facilities with pristine analog gear & professionally treated rooms. In fact, one of the worst-sounding records I've ever played on was recorded & mixed in a huge studio with racks & racks of nice equipment,
and mastered by a professional engineer who is employed by some of the most well-known bands in the world.
Literally. I kid you not. It was a fluke, but it can happen.
Can I request revisions? How many will you honor?
I will honor without protest around 3 rounds of revisions. Every project is a little different, but this the general rule. By the time you get to 4 or 5 in almost any project, it's usually an indication of an issue that needs to be handled outside of the amstering process.
What is a round of revisions? If you aren't 100% happy with what I provide after listening to your project in multiple listening environments and comparing it to similar published material, you may compile and provide to me a single complete list of changes you'd like to hear. I will then respond with thoughts and advisories if necessary, or I will just get to work and send you a new version.
My goal is always to make you absolutely thrilled with your production. It is incredibly rare that I run into revision challenges. However it does happen. Here are 4 scenarios in which a large amount of revision requests point past mastering to a deeper issue.
. There is an issue that is beyond my reach, such as problematically recorded multi-tracks, problematically mixed songs, or an unrealistic expectation as to what is possible. Mastering tends to reveal or clarify things about mixes, as mixing tends to reveal or clarify things about recorded tracks. Seamlessness or jagged transitions, clicks and pops, amp hum, phrases out of time or key, noise floors from your hardware, baked-in over-compression or excessive limiting, or simply an unbalanced mix. I always do my best to find compromises in these situations, but it is always best to, starting from the very inception of your project, maintain awareness of the potential for these problems to arise.
2. You are not giving each version a thorough enough listen before sending your revision requests, to the point where your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th list of revisions could've been combined with the first. This is the most common occurence, and it can be avoided by listening intently on multiple systems aside from the ones you used to work on your project, and taking notes along the way.
3. You do not know what you want, and you are using the engineer to experiment with and bounce ideas off of by means of listening to their mix or master passes and feeling your way through your vision in the process. And/or you are changing your mind about the trajectory of the project during the post-production process. If your 3rd revision list to a complete master has points like "Actually we're going to re-record the bass tracks with a synth instead and send you new mixes" then you should be prepared to pay for an entirely new master.
4. You care about your project so much, and have spent so much time with it, that you have
Good communication before a project is initiated is the number one way to avoid what is known as revision hell. :)
And of course, any revision request based on a potential mistake on
my part will not count against you, ever!
Do you offer classes, tutorials, or mentoring?
I do offer hour blocks of video chat lessons to help you with your mastering, mixing, or original compositions when my schedule is open. Please get in touch to discuss.
Can you produce DDP files, PMCDs, or MFiT masters?
Yes, I can provide DDP files for your CD master.
I can provide PMCDs, but I highly, highly recommend digital transfer instead for a multitude of reasons. PMCDs can be problematic, and it is a labor intensive endeavor that, in my opinion, may as well be avoided by submitting files digitally. It's... not worth it.
Sorry, I am not cool enough to be certified for MFiT masters at this time. :)
Do I need DDP files or just 16-bit WAVs for my CD master?
That question is for your intended manufacturer. Some services will accept CD WAVs, and others require DDP files. If you are just burning CDrs yourself, you only need 16-bit WAVs. DDP files are always recommended for maximum control over things like seamless playback, CD Text, embedded ISRC codes, etc.
Why do I need to get my music mastered if I am a DIY artist who is not concerned with "industry standards," airplay, Spotify playlists, etc?
I know that position very well. I come from underground DIY punk and noise scenes. The truth is, even if you don't want to get your music professionally mastered, it should still go through a makeshift mastering process on your end at the bare minimum. I don't know how many homemade tapes and CDrs I've bought from artists like yourself, at basement shows and from small labels, that featured music that was unnecessarily loud and digitally clipping out the wazoo even though it was just indie folk, incredibly muddy or muffled (unintentionally, to the dismay of the artist), or so quiet that I had to crank the speakers up so much that the noise floor was as loud as the song. Unless your intention is "audio terrorism" (which is pretty cool in itself), you should still have consistent levels and a good frequency balance. Your listeners will appreciate it. YOU will appreciate it. Nothing worse than a record that sounds good at first, but by the time it's over your ears hurt, because that snare drum had way too much 3kHz in it.
Don't you want to hear all the frequency content clearly? Don't you want the instruments you played to cut through the mix, or blend well? Don't you want problematic artifacts that are masking your sound in some way taken care of? Don't you want your recording as loud as possible, without causing your playback equipment problems? Don't you want the noise floor/hiss of your tapes to be relatively inaudible while listening to the actual music? Don't you want your record's needle to stay on track? Don't you want to hear what was originally intended, instead of a distorted (in a bad way) version of it?
If paying attention to these things disrupts the conceptual nature of your project, do what thou wilt. Otherwise, GET YOUR PROJECT MASTERED.
If you cannot afford to have your music professionally mastered, but want people to be able to comfortably enjoy your music and all it has to offer, please study the basics of mastering by watching
at least 5 tutorials on YouTube, and
at the least do the bare minimum on your own. If you need help, I am available to coach you. Just
get in touch.
Will my suffering mix sound better after mastering?
On one hand, yes, definitely. Many engineers will stress til they're blue in the face that they are not in the business of "polishing turds." "Shit in, shit out," they say. "The master is only as good as the mix," they say. Well, I don't entirely agree!
do think that you should, whenever possible,
even if it's inconvenient, fix problems with your mix in the mixing stage. It is the best option, and it is worth it. In fact, it would be incredibly silly not to if you have access to the mix, or have the ability to re-track that bass line.
However, it is not always possible to go back to the mixing stage. Maybe you're on bad terms with your engineer. Maybe your old hard drive died. So let's say your kick and bass are clashing. There is nothing I can do in the mastering stage to balance them with each other, but there
are things I can do to control the resonant build-up of bass frequencies so they do not overpower your mix or stick out as much.
These moves are always a compromise, but they will help. My end goal is to make your record sound as good as possibe, so there is no reason for an engineer to get hung up on principle as to avoid "polishing a turd"
if the end result sounds
Can you give me free mixing advice?
If you are getting your album mastered with me, feel free to send me your works in progress and I can give you some mixing advice, if needed, to help you prepare your songs.
Even if you aren't a beginner producer, this step could make a world of difference in the final product. The better your mix, the better your master. You can be a phenomenal producer or musician and still have the ability to gloss over an issue with your mix. Especially if you have been working on it for a while, and especially if you've been monitoring it with a single pair of headphones or monitors.
What is your business status?
Angel Hair Audio is an LLC, registered in the state of Illinois, in the USA.
Can I change my mix after you begin mastering? Can I change my multi-tracks after you begin mixing?
Please be confident in your project before sending it off for the next step.
I honor revision requests (see the frequently asked question about revisions), but sending me different audio than I have already quoted for and worked on does not count as a revision.
Sending in updated mixes or multi-tracks for a project after the work has begun will mean an additional charge in most cases.
If a new mix is significantly different, charging for and treating is as a new project may be necessary.
Please understand that a mastering engineer is not there to use as a resource to bounce your mixes off of, so that you can figure out where they need to be before they are mastered 'for good.'
If you need help preparing your mixes for mastering, I offer
free mixing advice in writing to all mastering clients who request it, before the mastering begins.
Who would win in a fight? AI mastering or a human engineer?
The short answer is... Likely the engineer, if they're good, but you never know, because I've heard some great AI masters!
Does it make sense for a broke producer who is mixing their own material to use a cheap online AI mastering service? Yes! If the choice is between no mastering, newb mastering, and eMastering, compare your results first but it may make sense to go with the latter!
Here are things to remember about AI mastering vs hiring a human engineer:
- Mastering is a creative, intuitive, and emotional art. AI mastering is incapable of understanding your vision. It knows the Fletcher-Munson curve, the attack of your transients, your stereo width...but it doesn't know what your project means to you, who your favorite artists are, what you were going for when you mixed your snare like that, or what you are truly setting out to do with your music.
- AI mastering comes up with a preset to run your mixes through. AI does "listen" to aspects of your music to construct the presets, but there is no part-specific or song-specific automation being written in by a person who is listening and feeling your music intently.
- You can't request revisions to parts of your master using AI. You can't bounce your idea for the revision off of them. There is no human who is emotionally resonating with your record to give you feedback on that idea, or send you a version of your song with the idea implemented, so you can choose between them.
- You aren't helping yourself grow and learn about your productions or mixes because there is no engineer to discuss your work with you. I offer free mixing advice to all mastering clients. Some other mastering engineers do as well. This has greatly impacted the end result. Sending an AI mastering software a record with huge problems in the mixes will result in some funky moves. I've tested this. Instead, with a human, they can tell you what they are hearing, and then you can fix it!
- You aren't sharing the wealth in the creative community. You need not feel obligated to do this, but it's always nice to.
- Sometimes, an AI master sounds better than you'd get from an engineer. Every engineer is different, with different skill levels, years of experience, acoustic treatment, opinions, preferences, etc. An AI master may sound better to you because you like how it treated the high end, but your engineer may have made the drums smack better. You can't tell AI to make the drums sound like your engineer's master. Maybe you don't even know why you like them better. But you can ask the engineer to make the high end sound more like the AI master. They will likely know just what to do.
- Just because you like the AI master over your master or your engineer's master, it doesn't mean you're getting a master that is void of problems that you may not be picking up on, such as inaudible low-end build-up, high end resonances your monitors may not be able to produce or that your room acoustics may be dampening. The list of examples goes on and on.
If you ever just want my opinion on whether an AI master or another master sounds better, fill out my form and send me a link to both versions. I don't mind spending a few minutes giving you my opinion with no obligation on your end to compensate.