My quest for knowledge in the production game has led me into many different studios. I've worked with a grip of recording engineers and musicians. Expert advice, and subtle tips, in order to achieve maximum audio dynamics, have had a lasting effect with my approach to recording. The individuals Iíve interviewed for this workshop are very knowledgeable in the most crucial aspect in the audio field... Mixing & Mastering.

Let's breakdown Tack-Fuís 3 steps of Audio Recording:
Production
(Initial Recording, Track Arrangement, & Audio Dynamics)

Mixing
(Editing, Equalization, & Fine Tuning)

Mastering
(Final product)

I should note that Steps #2 & #3 are crucial phases that should be left in the hands of experienced, well-trusted audio technicians. The last two steps can make or break your track. Think of it like this... A bowl of corn flakes with milk is a good basic meal to start off the day. It simply satisfies your hunger, it's nothing really special, you move on and look forward to lunch later that day. Now...imagine the same bowl of corn flakes with milk...but, you add slices of banana, sprinkle a few red raspberries on it, and add a tablespoon of sugar. Does that sound like a better breakfast? Wouldn't you enjoy the taste even more? The same concepts apply to post-production. Final Mixing is the added ingredients for texture and Mastering is the sugar on the cereal... sweeter sounding, better flavored product.


Because of the importance of this last two procedures, the really good audio technicians can command anywhere from 50 to 120 bucks an hour. Word to all artists, if you want top quality pro sounds; don't hold back the cash, especially on Step #3! Don't just send final mixes for mastering to some Joe Audio Pro in Anywheresville U.S.A either, do some research around your local area. Make an appointment and check out the person's experience and the quality of the mastering equipment. (hardware, sound card, & available plug-ins) It's your hard earned sweat, blood, & tears (and money dammit) that went into the track... Get involved and do some research!

The time it takes to master a song depends on many factors. So...I'll make a blanket statement...an hour per track. Hope I didn't scare y'all off with that blanket statement! My point is, so many variables can occur with "what needs to be done" in post-production, it's almost on a case-by-case basis. Some tracks take only 15 minutes; other tracks can be a pain in the ass and take 2 hours to complete. The fact remains in post-production...the tighter the final mix, the less room for error in mastering. The tighter the pre-production (how well the producer initially recorded the tracks and what equipment was used in the recordings) the tighter the final mix. It all meshes at some point in the process, but each step requires different trains of thought and areas of expertise.

For all the folks reading along, I decided it would be beneficial to interview several audio technicians with ties to Iowa City music. Iíve worked with all of them at one point in my recording career, so read & learnÖthe real world recording experience they share is from many years of on the job training.

All of them witnessed the transformation from analog recording techniques to digital tracking & processing. They've all adapted and flourished in their respective studios and areas of expertise. Hopefully, you will be able to grasp some of the technical jargon, and realize just how important post-production really is in making a broadcast quality track: That's the ultimate goal.