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Mixing and Mastering costs

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kenrob2037
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Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby kenrob2037 » Thu May 11, 2017 7:39 pm

Hi Everyone,

I live in Australia and I've been getting some quotes for mixing and mastering.

So far what I've got seems outrageous. $450.00 for mixing and $75.00 for mastering, each 3.5 min track. I have converted that into US dollars.

Does that seem crazy to anyone else?

Cheers

rob

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby Mark Bliss » Thu May 11, 2017 8:38 pm

For pro level work? Not crazy at all IMO. Its time consuming.

One of my mentors as an example charges quite a bit more, and is constantly turning work away because his schedule is full.

It might be one reason so many people are trying to learn to do it themselves.
Stay in tune, Mark

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kenrob2037
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby kenrob2037 » Thu May 11, 2017 10:08 pm

Thanks, Mark,

Interesting. I guess what is confusing me more is, I don't know what good and bad mixing and mastering are.

I imagine I could probably tell by listening to it, but I'm not so sure. How would I really know that they aren't just sticking it through some presets like I do. What I do sounds good to me, but it does not sound as good as most commercial releases.

So it's pretty much impossible for me to know if I'm getting my money's worth.

I did try that online one from Landr, I feel they are a bit of a joke. Their sound was worse than mine.

Thanks for the info.

https://www.landr.com/en

Cheers

rob

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AHornsby
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby AHornsby » Fri May 12, 2017 6:05 am

A local guy quoted a friend $35 per hour which is on par with what electricians get around here.

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby Mark Bliss » Sat May 13, 2017 6:41 am

I am guessing Harry is trying to point out that local economies vary.......
Correct but not well defined. For example in my area a union electrician who just got his card and finished his internship might make about $38 per, while an experienced senior might make $45 plus. And a professional contracting company might estimate a job at $125 per.
So I would add that prices vary with location and experience/skill set.

Anyway Rob:
kenrob2037 wrote: I guess what is confusing me more is, I don't know what good and bad mixing and mastering are.

Its your art, your vision. And its subjective.
What sounds good to you and best matches your vision is good.
But I would add that having someone else mix your music adds their vision and artistry into the equation too.

I would say most serious artists would probably have to go through the experience of working with a number of people before finding both the results they envision, and a working relationship they are comfortable with. Often this develops into a matter of several people working as a team.

kenrob2037 wrote:How would I really know that they aren't just sticking it through some presets like I do. What I do sounds good to me, but it does not sound as good as most commercial releases.

Well, I've found that the vast majority of program presets for mixing are poor choices. Mastering? Far worse.

Take for example the basics. EQ and Compression.
Both require very intimate knowledge of the incoming signal to apply in a useful manner IMO, 99% of the time. Using presets is literally like having someone who has never heard the audio decide how to set the processes.
At best, there are some rare presets that come far closer than others for a good starting point for mixing.

Mastering presets are just a disaster in my experience. Far too much compression/limiting in nearly every case for example.

kenrob2037 wrote:So it's pretty much impossible for me to know if I'm getting my money's worth.

If you don't have the time and/or skill and you get competent results, that would be a value I guess.
But yeah, I would have to REALLY believe in my music to spend the going rate, I hear you there!

kenrob2037 wrote:I did try that online one from Landr, I feel they are a bit of a joke. Their sound was worse than mine.

I tried their freebie offer for reference. Meh.
I think that maybe if you supply a VERY good mix, rendered at the right level you can perhaps get OK or fair results.
but for that service, what are they doing if not simple analysis/preset mastering?

The real problem is probably that people are often submitting pretty poor quality mixes, and even Landr notes the prominence of submissions that are sent in uselessly hot......

I have to admit that most of the mixes I have had access to have consistently shown the same weaknesses.
The first big one is that the mix was started before the arrangement and editing was even finished, and I have to interpret the vision of the piece from a rough mix that is cobbled together from inferior recordings, with excessive processing and isn't even finished being edited yet from people who think its ready for final touches.
I guarantee Landr is getting the same kind of mess for "mastering"

Most people would benefit from forgetting mastering for a while and learning to mix better IMO.
But on the other hand, mixing seems to have kind of evolved to incorporate a sort of "mastering"

Anyway, backing up to ask my own question.
Should that mixing price quote include finishing post production editing and arranging? Or should the artist have that sorted out?
My mixing quote would NOT include cleaning up and editing tracks for 2 plus hours. That's extra.

If the supplied material is typical, $450 is a steal assuming competent results unless the material is coming from someone who is creating above average projects that need only final mixing.

So Rob? Whatcha got?
Stay in tune, Mark

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AHornsby
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby AHornsby » Sat May 13, 2017 10:27 am

Mark Bliss wrote:I am guessing Harry is trying to point out that local economies vary.......
Correct but not well defined.


I could have written that but everyone knows it already.

Mark Bliss wrote:The real problem is probably that people are often submitting pretty poor quality mixes, and even Landr notes the prominence of submissions that are sent in uselessly hot......


This is key I believe... if one believes that Landr has the last word. Otherwise, who does have the last word? I'd say it's generally true though. I'd say also that a thorough log of the precursor tracks would be an essential element when submitting the project to the audio editor.

Plus, since Mark is right in titling all this mixing business as an 'art' you're the one left to decide who you'd want to get closer to. Would it be Picasso or Van Gogh?

kenrob2037
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby kenrob2037 » Sat May 13, 2017 3:44 pm

Hi All,

After further quotes, you are dead right Mark, all were more expensive than the first quote.

I think I understand what it takes to mix and master a track, so the quotes are fair. That said, I also can't afford it, so it's a nice dream.

I wish I did know two things though,

1. If I record a solo piano piece, does it need mixing and mastering? I use a Roland FA-08, and the piano sound quality is about the best there is, and I'm happy with it on all my audio systems. I can understand mixing and mastering when used with other instruments, but solo, does it need it? If so, why?

2. Is there a place I can go to find out about all the terminology and lingo of mixing and mastering? I've had a good look around and can't find anything.

Cheers and thanks again guys.

Rob

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby Mark Bliss » Sat May 13, 2017 4:56 pm

1: By the widest definition, there might be some things you want to do to polish the sound of even the solo piano, so there are options.
There's no masking or need to make it fit with other audio, but one might choose to "sweeten" it, EQ it slightly if desired, or add some space and ambience with a quality reverb for example.
Another example might be a bit of stereo spread added to create the sensation you are sitting right at the piano.
All just examples.

Another factor to consider is the loudness. You could for example render the track at a safe level with no clipping samples, but find that when played before/after other tracks it just isn't loud enough. You cant just mix down with the track turned up higher without clipping, so you need a touch of processing. Just as a potential example.

*For the record, my definition of true mastering would be preparing a set of songs. Setting the song order, space between, and relative loudness between songs. Secondarily, you might tweak the individual songs with EQ so they fit together better as a set etc.
The common definition most people are now using for "Mastering" is in my opinion, still just mixing really.
Just a thought.

2: http://forums.acoustica.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=10468
If you cant find what you seek there, continue to ask questions here. We don't mind. Don't be shy. 8)

Oh and I previously meant to mention- there's some very good mixing advice at the Landr mastering services website.

If you want more targeted or general tutorial material let me know what genre you are interested in and some more specific topical questions and I will try to aim you toward more good sources that might speed your learning curve.
Stay in tune, Mark

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kenrob2037
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby kenrob2037 » Sat May 13, 2017 8:31 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the suggestions. Knowing so little about mixing, it's great to hear your thoughts.

With the suggestions for piano that you made, I understand the EQ and reverb, but not the stereo widening. I know Izotope ME does that, but it does a lot of other things along with stereo widening. Can you suggest a plugin for MC8 that will achieve this without changing other aspects of the sound?

Not sure if my music fits into a genre, most is piano based, by the style is a mixture of jazz, post-classical and electronica, a bit like Vangelis and Kitaro. Almost all of my stuff is tonal, flowing and rhythmical, and usually, heavily piano driven.

Not sure that helps with any mixing suggestions though.

Cheers

Rob

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby Mark Bliss » Sat May 13, 2017 9:05 pm

The first thing I would consider is with the instrument. IE: Does it output in stereo and is there any provision to make any adjustments to that aspect there?
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kenrob2037
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby kenrob2037 » Sat May 13, 2017 9:26 pm

Interesting that you ask that Mark, I've just discovered this amazing piano plugin and it it so much better and cheaper than anything else I have tried or own.

It's from Israel and it called Grand Rhapsody Piano. http://www.waves.com/plugins/grand-rhapsody-piano

I was just about to post something in the Plugins forum about it. I can't see where anyone else has tested it out. I'm finding it hard to believe that something this good is only $29 US.

While I could not find anything for stereo widening yet, I'm still looking.

I am checking with my other, more expensive plugins to see if they have stereo widening also, but I don't think they do, and they are all stereo.

Talk Soon

Cheers

rob

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby Mark Bliss » Sat May 13, 2017 9:38 pm

Waves just released that like a week ago or something, so its just being discovered. And yeah, the price is attractive.

If the instrument doesn't provide tools for manipulating the stereo field, and that's something you think you would like to explore, there are plug ins and other ways.

One plug in I use and like is Alex Hiltons A1 stereo, which is free.

Suggestion: Don't get carried away, keep anything like this very subtle for best results. Especially for your intended use.
Stay in tune, Mark

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kenrob2037
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby kenrob2037 » Sat May 13, 2017 11:09 pm

Thanks, Mark, I'll give it a whirl.

I have another question you may be able to answer, when I play a song I've composed and recorded on my Roland Fa-08, into MC8 and then "mix" it, it sound very good, to me.

But, when I mixdown, the audio quality drops to around 50% of the quality I get in MC. No matter what file format I mixdown to, or what quality of format I've chosen.

I actually can't hear any difference between FM and Super Hi-Fi Quality. Is it just my ears, or is that normal?

But the mixdown audio quality is so much poorer than the quality when played in MC.

Any thoughts?

Cheers

rob

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AHornsby
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby AHornsby » Sun May 14, 2017 4:44 am

kenrob2037 wrote: 2. Is there a place I can go to find out about all the terminology and lingo of mixing and mastering? I've had a good look around and can't find anything.


The Alan Parsons' book 'Art and Science of Sound Recoding' is very good. It accompanied the DVD series.

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Mark Bliss
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Re: Mixing and Mastering costs

Postby Mark Bliss » Sun May 14, 2017 7:12 am

Rob, its hard to comment on the difference in mixdown quality from what you hear in Mixcraft without hearing what you mean.

But the most common causes in my experience have been:
Mixing down with levels too high/clipping
Mixing down to a different sampling rate than the project sometimes causes problems due to some specific VST or VSTi
Most common- Having audio enhancements turned on in your computer preferences.

Look in your computers audio settings and make sure any enhancements are disabled. Some can be persistent. Mine resets to enabled by itself if I just look at it sideways, which is very annoying.
Stay in tune, Mark

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