Studio Pros

Posts Tagged ‘mastering’

Start your production

Professional CD Mastering

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Mixing and mastering usually go hand-in-hand. But while most people refer to them both together, they are two distinctly different stages in the recording process. So why exactly do you need to master your album? Couldn’t you just get your songs mixed by a great engineer (maybe a Studio Pros engineer), skip the mastering step and save a few bucks on your record?

It may seem like an effective cost-cutting solution, but if you don’t get your album mastered, you’re only going to hold yourself back–way back, in fact. What many musicians don’t realize is that mastering is as important as every other aspect of recording, including recording great sounding instrumental tracks and professional mixing. Not mastering your album (or trying to master it yourself) will yield the same unprofessional results as if you recorded low-quality drum tracks or mixed it poorly.

Mastering is essential for making your songs broadcast-quality.

What exactly is mastering anyway?

Mastering might sound like a bit of a vague concept to many musicians, as though it’s just one magical step added to the end of the recording process. But while learning how to master a song very well is an extremely difficult task, learning what mastering actually is is quite simple. In our interview with Studio Pros’ mastering engineer, he explained that mastering is basically EQing, compressing, limiting and gain staging the final mix.

What that means is that the engineer tweaks your mix to sound just like the songs you hear on the radio every day–the same volume, the same balanced sound. Without this step, your song just won’t cut it for broadcast quality.

(more…)

Featured Artist: Jeff Heiniger

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Jeff Heiniger knew the importance of a professional production–so he turned to Studio Pros when he didn’t want to settle for anything less.

Jeff Heiniger has known what goes into a professional production for a long time. In 1987, he won a national songwriting competition in the UK that was put together by Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman. The prize: a chance to record in the Stones’ state-of-the-art mobile recording studio with top producers Mick McKenna and Terry Taylor. “It was brilliant to work with actual professionals,” Heiniger remembers. “They turned our demo into something that was fantastic.”

Heiniger first started taking music lessons after getting a piano when he was 13.  He also started listening to all sorts of pop music, from Electric Light Orchestra to Depeche Mode, ABBA to The Beatles. Since winning the competition he has put together a Pro Tools-equipped home studio, but soon realized that without a professional producer behind the board he wasn’t going to achieve the same sort of radio-ready product he got with is winning song. “The problem is that I’m not an engineer, so I didn’t have anybody to record my stuff,” he explains. “What I found was really good about Studio Pros was that the production was sort of taken out of my hands in a way.”

When he found the Studio Pros website, Heiniger was actually looking for session vocalists on the web. “I couldn’t find anyone locally who was any good,” he says. “It’s quite laborious, taking your music to a recording studio and finding an engineer who will record a session singer who you may not like. It seemed quite a lengthy process, and one that may not yield results at the end of the day.” He found himself intrigued by the Studio Pros website. “The site itself looked very professional. Professionalism and price were important.”

With Studio Pros, Heiniger was able to focus on writing a song on piano, then letting our team of world-class studio musicians build the rest from the ground up. Along the way, he would provide input and feedback to make sure everything came together how he wanted it. In order to make it easier, Heiniger would provide reference tracks with other music that matched the vibe he was going for with each song.

(more…)

Buying Yet Another Piece of Gear vs. Recording Your Song With Studio Pros

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Technology can be a great tool. It can help you come up with your next masterpiece, and it can give you the means of recording your latest creation.  And I don’t know about you, but it sure does make me feel warm and fuzzy inside when I buy a shiny new piece of gear for my home studio.

That is, until I plug it in.  You see, technology is something of a double-edged sword.  Even though buying new gear is really fun, it also means you have to invest a ton of time into learning how to use it well. That’s why the fuzzy feeling starts fading as soon as my new piece of gear is out of the box.  I’m faced with the daunting task of the dreaded musical equipment learning curve, something I may have time to get the hang of, but rarely have the time to master.

And there’s the real kicker–even when you get used to using new gear, it still takes a lot of time, experience, trial and error to be able to use it to its maximum potential the way a top professional would. While it would certainly be nice to get to that point eventually, I don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the recording I’m doing now to work towards the goal of great recordings later.

It’s because of this that technology, while seemingly freeing initially, can really put unnecessary limits on your song’s production and ruin your creative process!  Talk about a catch-22… Every minute you spend figuring out how to maximize your gear’s potential is taken away from time you could have spent composing, creating, and expanding your artistic horizons.

There is, of course, the obvious solution to this dilemma: put your music in the hands of a professional who already knows what they’re doing with today’s best technology.  But that sure sounds easier said than done–it’s not like you can just hand your stuff over to a Grammy-nominated engineer who will mix and master it to radio broadcast standards without forking over your life savings, right?

(more…)

Music Mixing: What It Is, and Why It’s Important

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

When I was a kid, I started playing guitar, and along with playing guitar inevitably came reading guitar-themed magazines. As a guitar neophyte, I began devouring publications on playing guitar and writing music, delving into interviews with famous artists who talked shop about writing guitar parts and recording albums. One day I was reading an interview with Sting, who mentioned the name of the person who mixed his album.

Mixed? What did that mean, I wondered? So I asked the nearest person to me at the time, which happened to be my mom. “Mixing is when they take the recordings of each instrument and adjust the volumes to make the sound you hear in the recording,” she explained to me.

“Wait,” I asked, “you mean they record everything separately?”

This was my introduction to mixing, starting with the revelation that songs weren’t just recorded live in a studio by a whole band standing around a few microphones (at least not anymore–my mental picture of recording may have been shaped by years listening to early Beatles records which did involve much more “live” recording). After all my years of listening to music, I had never known. With that revelation in mind, I knew from then on what “mixing” meant.  Well, sort of.

There was much more to it than I thought

For the next several years, I thought mixing was simply a search for the right volume levels.  While that’s not completely untrue, it was still a very incomplete picture. It wasn’t until I started interacting directly with professional mixing engineers that I finally began to fully understand how important–and complex–mixing really was.

(more…)

How to Tell if Your Demo is Good Enough

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

When it comes down to it, we all want to know the same thing about our music: Is my demo good enough to get me signed or placed in TV/movies?

In the last post, I talked about the artist press kit–all of the things you need to include, what they should look like, and why they’re important. And of course, I stressed the fact that the demo is far and away the most important part of the package. You might have the fanciest, most exciting looking press kit in the world, but it won’t amount to much if the music doesn’t live up to the hype!

So let’s talk more about the demo… You know it has to be great, but how do you know it’s great? Here are a few pointers that should give you a better idea of whether your demo will make the cut.

Your demo MUST have great songs!

First things first: the songs on your demo should be great. Making a professional demo will be easy if the songs are strong and memorable–but if they’re not so good, it won’t matter how much polish you put on the production. So spend a good deal of time crafting your best music, and remember that getting outside opinions can help you hone your craft. If you’re not sure if you’ve written a great chorus, for example, ask a friend or fellow musician for their honest input. To get professional feedback on your song, call for a free project consultation from Studio Pros today!

(more…)

Featured Artist: Allenton Hill

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Tim and Christopher Allen decided to use Studio Pros to breathe a little life into their recordings.  In the end, they ended up getting a bit more than that.

Along with Brad Ackerman (drums) and Kristin Allen (vocalist), Tim and Chris Allen form the band Allenton Hill, who cite influences as diverse as Owl City (on the song “Fireworks,” listen below) and Switchfoot.  ”Truthfully, most of our music has been influenced by three main bands: Hillsong, Phil Wickham, and Coldplay,” says Tim, who plays lead guitar, does some singing, and is the principal songwriter of the group.  He’s been playing music with his brother Chris, who sings and plays acoustic guitar and piano, since they were kids.  ”When we were young, we were always around music,” Tim remembers.  ”Most everyone in my family plays an instrument or two… Eventually the music fever hit Chris and me.”

“Dad always turned up the music when we were driving around and he’d have me pick out all of the instruments,” says Chris.  ”This led to me having significant appreciation for the details in music.”

The members of Allenton Hill, all in their early twenties, got together when they began to play at a local Youth Center in their hometown of Dayton, OH in 2006.  They met Ackerman, who has now been playing drums for about 16 years, when he ended up living at their house for a short time.  Although he currently lives in Nashville, Ackerman drives up to Ohio every week to be with the band.

(more…)

Digital Distributing Your Songs With iTunes

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Many songwriters ask me how they can distribute their material online after completing their productions.  Distributing your materials online is a very easy way to broaden your listening audience and make your music accessible for purchase throughout the world.  What would we do without the internet?

What Is Digital Distribution?

Digital distribution, when it applies to music, is selling your content online in digital mp3 format.  Instead of purchasing a physical copy of a cd in an old school record store, consumers are now able to purchase recordings online.   This is a sad reality for record stores, but at the same time makes distributing independent music much more accessible!  Currently, the world’s largest digital music company is iTunes.  Ever heard of it?  I thought so.  iTunes has changed the music industry with their model of providing digital music for sale across the globe through their online sales.

How Do I Get My Recordings On iTunes?

Believe it or not, digitally distributing your materials for sale online through iTunes is easy!  Any independent songwriter can post their music for sale online if they take the proper steps.  Just another reason why independent musicians have much more advantage than 20 years ago when the need for label support was more necessary in making your recordings accessible to the public.

Which Companies Offer Digital Distribution?

These sights can help you get your materials live on iTunes:

1.  TuneCore
2.  ReverbNation
3.  CDBaby

All you have to have is a finished master of your materials and you’re ready to get your songs for sale on iTunes (but first make sure you go through the proper steps of determining if it’s ready for release).

Typically, an iTunes single song purchase is .99 cents up to $1.29 per song and the artist receives a designated percentage of the sale of each single song sold.  For every single sold on a .99 cents purchase the artist receives .70 cents.  Managing your iTunes purchases through these online distributors is easy and a great way to get your music sold.  I have personally used Tunecore myself in releasing my materials and find the layout very convenient and user friendly.  They keep track of my sales and have an accounting breakdown of sales per month.  As the artist, I can request to have the royaltees from my sales sent in a check whenever I’m ready, or can choose to have the money transferred to a future project.

Are My Songs Ready For Release?

Get a producer or trusted musical ear to take a listen to your recordings to help you determine if all of the steps have been taken to assure your song is ready for release.  Remember that once your song goes live, you cannot take it back.  Re-releasing materials after they’ve already gone up for sale is not professional.  If you’re happy with where your song is at, I would recommend emailing your final mp3 of your product to a producer at Studio Pros (info@studiopros.com) and they will give you some feedback on what can be improved and help you make the correct steps to get it released.

Improve Your Recordings…

Common improvements that can be made on home recordings are: get your programmed drum tracks recorded by a live drummer, putting some polishing touches on your vocals with  vocal tuning where needed and a professional mix/master by an experienced engineer to get the final polishing.  If you are hesitant of the overall quality of your production, Studio Pros can help you get a professional broadcast quality production complete and radio ready within weeks.

If you’re ready to take the final steps at making your materials live, you can do it today!  Contact a producer at Studio Pros: 1-310-928-7776 or email us at: info@studiopros.com and we can help you put the finishing touches on your recordings.  You can get your recordings distributed in no time!  Give us a call.

Featured Artist: James Robinson

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

With the help of Studio Pros, James Robinson made recordings on the road and expanded his production company’s clientele.

James Robinson is one of the lead writers and producers of APT6 Entertainment, a music production team (also including Dwayne and Dwight Madison and Greg Edwards) based out of Los Angeles, CA.  As self proclaimed “R&B heads,” the team is heavily influenced by such classic R&B greats as Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and The Underdogs, as well as modern acts like Neyo, The Dream and Trey Songz.

“R&B is just our thing,” Robinson says.  “APT6 was birthed in the church/gospel music scene, so it’s only natural.”

Robinson joined APT6 in 2007, two years after it was formed.  Though originally brought on as a hip-hop artist, he was eventually made a co-owner.  Between Robinson, Edwards and the Madison Brothers, APT6 covered the composing/songwriting and keyboard playing side of things.  Studio Pros helped them have everything they need to be a full-service production team.

“Studio Pros is amazingly simple,” says Robinson.  “I can’t stress that enough.  We uploaded our WAV files, then we were prompted to leave notes and examples of what we were looking for. Within 48 hours we had our first sample! The engineer was almost dead on AND open to making adjustments.”

He soon learned to love the rapid turnaround time that Studio Pros offered.  “When we asked for adjustments on bass levels and reverb, we were shocked at how fast the turn around time was–I believe it was within a few hours,” he remembers.  “That was when I became a huge believer in the quality and customer service of Studio Pros.”

But the real kicker for Robinson was that he and APT6 did everything while they were on the road.  “We were going back and forth between in-home setups and handling a lot of business,” he explains.  Being in one place was close to impossible.”  And what did he think of what Studio Pros did with his simple recordings?  “The results were amazing.” (more…)

Preparing Your Files for Studio Pros Mixing Services

Friday, September 5th, 2008

There are a few organizational steps you need to take to clean up your session before sending your files off to our Studio Pros engineer.

  1. You’ll need to hide all muted, inactive, midi or any other track that you didn’t intend to play in the  final mix.  Set up the files as clearly as you can by making sure the tracks are clearly labeled.
  2. If you do have midi tracks, you must record the midi sounds to an audio track.
  3. If you have special effects that are part of your audio track, bounce the track to a new channel by clicking: File > Bounce To > Disk.
  4. * PLEASE NOTE: We will not be able to take off any processing or effects you have applied to an audio track.   We prefer to do the effects or processing for you within the mix.  Please be sure to mention the sounds you had in mind in the description of your order.  You may also include reference tracks from similar artists to clarify the “mix sound” you had in mind.

Pro tools session

Cleaning up your session

  1. Make sure to double check all edit points throughout your song and make sure there aren’t any noticeable clicks or clips that would make your edit obvious in the final mix.
  2. Remove all plug ins and automation you may have applied to your song within your own session.  This will ensure that all of the files will transfer over to us correctly, and we’ll use our own plug-ins and automation techniques in our mix.

    Consolidating your tracks within your session

  1. When you have all your tracks lined up and ready to send to mixing, it’s important to listen to your project from start to finish.  Double check for errors in your song before consolidating your tracks.
  2. Then, select all the tracks, first by clicking on the first channel, holding the shift button and clicking the last tracks, and then by clicking Apple (or control) A, and consolidate them by clicking: Edit > Consolidate.
  3. Now you should see all your tracks from the same starting point in your project from beginning to end. (more…)

Featured Artist: Aaron Frisbee

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Aaron FrisbeeMany songwriters have their own home recording studios and double as the producer, engineer, songwriter, and recording artist.  Most songwriters don’t also fall into the category of “studio drummer”, and that’s where Studio Pros comes in to save the day (or the album you could say).

Don’t waste time struggling to knock out a midi drum track on your song when you can have our studio drummer come help you!  As many of you may have realized, getting drum tracks recorded may be the most difficult step in getting your album finished.

(more…)


Studio Pros