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Mixing down in the studio

If you recorded all your tracks for your new song(s) in your own studio. And then wanted to mix them down at a real nice studio. With a high dollar console. Which way is the best way to approach the owner so that you will get the best deal.
The last 2 or 3 times we went to a bigger studio we just payed whatever the owner asked for. Typically they wanted an hourly rate. Does this sound like the best way or which of these suggestions might be better overall...
1) pay per song
2) pay per hour
3) pay flat price to mixdown all the songs

**** or any other way that I did not list

Has anybody else done as me and gone to a larger studio to mixdown? And what did you do about keeping the cost to a minimum?


Davedog Thu, 03/16/2006 - 17:23
Steven...I do appreciate your input on this forum. Really. And an excellent question BTW.

But dwoz is right. I doesnt APPEAR from the wording of your question that you have a lot of experience in this part of the equation.

There were a couple of other points made that would helpful to answer your question....Are you going to mix? Are you seeking to hire a producer who would then hire the room and the engineer? Are you looking for someone to have the room already and be your engineer at which point you would be the producer?

All things matter. And dwoz knows his shit....sotospeak. peace....dogg.

RecorderMan Thu, 03/16/2006 - 18:50
Remi has a good solution.

I would like to add and maybe focus some of the above suggestions with the idea that what you should be looking for is not a studio...but a MIXER.

Call all the avenues you have for this, even studios you would want to book (they'll want to turn you on to the best people that know their rooms). Get as many recommendations and then hire the best one you can afford and like. They will be able to negotiate for you a better price than you could...and if they are is they that will make the mix great...the gear just helps. can mix inside-the-box...but you always should think

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 03/16/2006 - 19:07
StevenColbert wrote: [quote=dwoz]First things first. Clearly, you've not done this before. Just getting that out in the open.
Which brings us to todays WORD...

as was much of what you wrote.
Well that's GOOD then! you didn't really need any advice, you were just listening to yourself say "neve". That's actually a lot of fun. I do it too.

So then the simple answer is to approach the studio owner as if he's number 3 on your short list, and you're not sure whether he's gonna be ON the list when it gets down to choice A or B...and that this is the first of many projects, that in the long run you're a cash cow, and SOMEBODY's gonna be getting all the milk.

Oh, and he's not number 3 because he sucks, but because two other guys have given you some GREAT vibe, and you just simply don't have enough knowledge about him.

If you do this, you better be SPOT ON with your jive, with the way terminology and casual mention of technique and stuff just rolls off your tongue...and you better be able to NAME those other guys, cause the guy you're speaking with KNOWS all his competition...and you better have a pretty spanking interesting set of basics...and a faders-up rough mix that you can hear the potential in...

Oh, and mention that you'll be paying in cash at the session.

If you walk in to negotiate, and you're obviously not schooled on your material, he'll either pick your pockets or kick you to the curb, or both.

Then again, you could just walk in and say, Hey, I've got 12 songs tracked, and I need to mix down. Can you rent me the studio for 4 days for $1000? Great, see you in two weeks.


StevenColbert Fri, 03/17/2006 - 04:12
Davedog wrote: Steven...I do appreciate your input on this forum. Really. And an excellent question BTW.
And dwoz knows his shit....sotospeak.
Thanks DaveDog
I really do appreciate your nice words. However I do not know dwoz, nor do I remember reading any of his prior post. If he does in fact "sotospeak" know his stuff, I will have to take your word for it.
And it really sounded like someone trying to put me down, rather than help me up. I'm sick of that crap. However I am cool with his last post, very helpful and just the type of comment I was looking for.
Now If I made myself sound like I have never seen a studio, or know what one is if I'm standing in it. Then that's my fault, maybe for not stating that I have been to a few studio's in the past, and just paid them whatever they asked for.
They never raped me. But I was young at the time (and never been to a studio before---it used to be true) and I didn't have a web-site forum to ask questions like RO. (Thanks audiokid) I just paid whatever they asked for. And that's what I am trying to figure out, if I do continue do go about it this way. How much per song will I need to budget myself for an 8 to 10 song CD. However, in the same light sense I NEVER said "Hey I'm ignorant and never paid for studio time". Then I would like to add...
Since I have only been to the studio 3 or 4 times in the past, and only paid the price asked by the owner. What would be a more lucrative way of getting studio time and knowing that this is about the best deal I can get?

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 03/17/2006 - 05:01
Hey, its not like being inexperienced is a bad thing. You don't come out of the egg with all this stuff in place, ready to go, now, do you? Its all about building up the environment.

So, you've heard from two people, myself and recorderman, that you're actually looking for a mixer, and the studio will come afterwards.

Again, I'll reiterate, what's the MOTIVATION for the studio to cut you a deal? Let's make it today's word of the day...REPEAT BUSINESS. (sorry, two words).

If you walk in there cold calling, with a few songs, in a state wherein the studio guy might not hear the magic...then he sees you as a walk-in one-off...and why would cutting you a deal be good business for him?

However, if he sees an established freelancer who books studios every week to do his business, walking your project in, then the studio owner has a motivation to make his studio the freelancer's preferred venue.

The pricing works out pretty much in your favor, because the mix guy has to compete with the studio itself price-wise, even as he hires them...

Here's an analogy for you. I have a large piece of land. I bought an old backhoe to do some tasks on that land, which needed lots of work (both the land AND the backhoe). Now, I'm no mechanic, so I'm pretty much out of my league here, doing mechanical work on large industrial equipment. I bring the hydraulic cylinders to a machine shop close by, to be repacked. When I brought the first one in, I made sure to tell the guy that the cylinder he was working on was the first of 13. I chatted him up, and made clear that I was out of my league, and interested in whatever he could tell me about mechanics and maintenance, but smart enough to understand what the hell he was saying. Leaving, I paid with fresh clean hundred dollar bills.

Now, every time I bring in a cylinder to be reworked, he drops his other work (for major municipal clients and large construction companies), and pushes my little thing through in rush turnaround, for a discount, no less.

Why does he do that? because I pay in cash up front, compared to the municipals, which pay on ninety days if he's lucky. because he likes me, because I respect and appreciate his work, its easy work for him, and he is amused at my success tackling a huge project.

maybe this little story means nothing, maybe it helps.

Point being, if the value proposition for the studio is good, then you'll get a deal. So focus on how you'd communicate a value proposition to the studio, and you'll get your deal!



jonnyc Wed, 03/15/2006 - 11:21
Most engineers are pretty cool. Although you may be a touch misinformed about mixing a pro tools session with a Neve console. I believe SSL's can control pro tools but I'm not sure any sound actually passes thru, I'm pretty sure all the same stuff can be done with a mouse and keyboard. Its really that talent at the studio that you want. I've talked to several engineers including the guys at sweetwater and they all pretty much have the prices set. Some were per song(for mixdown only) some were per hour. For example I believe sweetwater is 85 bucks an hour with an average of 2-3 hours per song.

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 03/15/2006 - 11:53
i think most engineers would prefer you come to them with your budget, and then they can work out a deal for you there. I would expect a basic mix for an entire record in 2 full days by any competent engineer, and any more time than that would be to make a GREAT mix. I can get a decent mix on an EP in 5-10 hours. I would expect that you could pay about 500-1000 dollars to get a really decent sounding mix on an neve/api depending on what area you live and how well the basic tracks were recorded.

A lot of freelance engineers can give you a good deal by doing all the editing at their home studio and then mixing down on the big board at the professional facility and thereby charging you less than you would pay for someone who owns a fullblown neve room. i would ask around and talk to the engineers. just remember you can't get something for nothing, and you get what you pay for. cliche's that are very true in the recording world.


Pro Audio Guest Wed, 03/15/2006 - 16:02
First things first. Clearly, you've not done this before. Just getting that out in the open. Also, you hear that there's something missing in the mix you've got right now.

You're a little ambiguous about what you're hiring the studio to do. Are you booking the room, and you'll be sitting in the chair? Or are you looking for someone to mix your songs for you?

If you're going to be sitting in the chair, then you're in for an expensive mistake, although a very FUN expensive mistake.

The gear is really only part of the equation.

By far the more important part of the equation is the particular ass that's occupying the chair in front of the console.

My opinion is that you instead look for the guy that will give you the mix you're looking for.

Getting back to the original point...My guess is that the deficiency in the mix you're getting yourself in your own room, is more one of IMAGINATION than it is of the sonics of the equipment.

When you find the GUY (or gal) you want to mix with, then you let them pretty much book the room that they'll be comfortable in (depending on budget!).

If you just walk in the door of a "real" studio, the chance is that you'll get some kind of basic, perhaps not incompetent mix that manages to achieve some manner of balance between the various instruments, and in which some of the more glaring issues in your tracking are attended to. But I question whether you're going to get a "superb" mix that brings out the best of your tracks.

Its really not in the gear, its in the ears.

Then again, perhaps you've got a pretty good, strong vision of what the mix is going to be, and you just need a more detailed monitoring environment and cleaner signal path...

Typically, a freelance mix engineer is going to charge per-song. The studio might charge per song, or do time & materials...depends on how much of a "science experiment" your tracks are.


RemyRAD Wed, 03/15/2006 - 22:25
Here is yet another suggestion!

Okay so you have tracked everything. You want that flavor of those vintage consoles. You can accomplish all of your level changes, equalization, compression, limiting and effects within your computer. In short, your mix ITB! But now the fun begins. This is what you need.

The studio must contain a computer compatible with your hard disk files and be capable of multitrack analog output from their computer. (Digidesign, MOTU and others come to mind) Those tracks are then fed into their API, Neve or what ever, faders all placed at the unity gain position and "pan-pots" set for your desired stereo placement. You could also enhance or tweak the equalizers too! Then you would hit the playback button on the computer and record the results on another digital stereo recorder. And voilà! Your mix with all the flavor the vintage console can provide. You won't even really need a competent engineer to make that scenario happen! You'll certainly save time on mixing if you have done most of you're mixing "ITB" (in the box or, computer).

Impractically practical
Ms. Remy Ann David