Mix notes and reference mixes
The more detailed the mix notes you provide, the better.
- “I wanted the verse vocal to sound a bit like…"
- “I like the depth of the bass on this track…"
- “It has to sound a bit like…"
- “We need something similar to our previous song…"
- “My favourite tracks in my genre are…"
- “Just like The Beatles”
Apple Music, YouTube or Spotify links save time, but if you have hi-quality files of reference mixes, please include them in the package.
Preparing your mix files
Note: if you’re not a tech, and this all looks insanely complex, then please get in touch, we might be able to run your DAW and do this for you, or edit / mix in your DAW, and return something to you you can open.
- Stereo or mono tracks in standard lossless formats (WAV/AIFF)
- Export at the native sample rate and bit depth of your DAW project
- Print virtual instruments to stereo tracks
- Disable any EQ or dynamics processing, but where processing (e.g. distortion) is fundamental to the sound, please provide two versions, e.g. VERSE_GUITAR_1_dry.wav and VERSE_GUITAR_1_fx_printed.wav
- Don’t normalize or format convert your files
- Tell us the BPM of your song, or exporting a midi file should give you the option to include tempo information (please export song markers too, which helps when referring to different parts of the song, it does no harm to include midi tracks, another useful reference)
Tips on exporting tracks or stems
The standard way to export raw audio tracks is to -
- Check the channel name
- Duplicate the channel take or playlist (leaving the original unchanged)
- Consolidate the audio to project start (e.g. bar 1, beat 1, or timecode start
- In your sound files browser, use ‘Show In Finder’ to locate the new Audio File created by consolidation, and copy the WAV/AIFF file to a new folder (or, order Audio Files by Date Created, the stems are at the top of the list)
Similarly, when condensing many tracks into a stereo bus, or if you wish to print a software instrument to an audio track, you can -
- Send that group of tracks to a bus output, and
- Record the output from the bus to a stereo audio track, or
- Export that bus only, using Bounce Mix
If you use Bounce Mix, any issues with sync may be related to Plug-In Delay Compensation, this should be enabled, to remove latency from the start of the exported file. Some DAWs have bugs and do this incorrectly when latency is large.
The last thing to check is that tracks/stems playback in in sync -
- Open a new project (maybe in a DAW you aren’t using, Reaper is light-weight)
- Set the tempo, or drag in any midi file you exported, above, accepting the new tempo information - the tempo map should update, and any song markers included should appear at the same bar as in your original session
- Drag in your audio files (all at once)
- Tracks should be auto-created
- Pull down faders to -20 (avoid BOOM! effect) and then hit play….
- pull up a rough flat mix to check if everything sounds in sync
- there should be no phasing issues
- nothing should sound distorted, or peak on end-to-end playback
- instruments should sound as you expect (i.e. an amp sim is not exactly bypassed)
- Amp-sim prints (with fx) and raw guitar (sim bypassed) should be in sync (no flamming of attack of each note)
Last minute checklist
- Check you’re happy with performances and recording
- Include a rough mix, so we know what you’re looking for
- Include reference mixes too!
- Include mix notes
- Double check that all editing and tuning is done
- Print virtual instruments or effects
- Print from the same start point
- Ensure all files have the same sample rate and bit depth
- Make sure files are clearly named (e.g. JD_Guitar_1_close.wav, JD_Guitar_1_ambient.wav, etc.)
- Giving us a reference mix, to allow us to check for sync issues and/or missing instruments is useful