Mixing – 4 things to consider when receiving your project source files

Sound Tweakers Mixing receiving source files Ep01 720x420

After accepting a mixing project your first task is to receive your project source files. This is what we’ll be covering in today’s episode of the Sound Tweakers Podcast.

1. Before mixing anything: get your contract signed!

But wait, didn’t you say we’d talk about mixing? Yes, we do, but this is a really important detail! So I decided to include it in this episode.

  • Make sure you’ve got your terms and fees defined and accepted in a legally binding form.
  • Don’t make exceptions – even if you know the artist for years. I’ve seen friendships ending badly because there was no contract in place.
  • Never, never ever, work for free.
  • Receive some payment up-front to cover your costs and as a sign of dedication from your client.
  • Define your scope of work, deadlines, number of revisions, fees and a contract termination clause.

2. What do you need to receive from your client?

  • Briefing: You need to know what your client wants. The more detailed the briefing, the better it is. Remember to get this in writing!
  • Reference: One audio file (I repeat: one, not many) which serves you as a mixing north in case of doubts.
  • Documentation: Any notes that have been taken during recording and editing should be available to you.
  • Project files: This is the fun part – we’ll look at them next.

3. How to receive your project files for mixing?

  • If you’re only going to mix, the most common format for receiving files is consolidated WAV files.
  • Should your responsibilities go beyond mixing (editing, vocal tuning), it is a good idea to receive the open session.
  • In this case, you need to check plug-in and DAW compatibility.
  • If you don’t have all the plug-ins available, printing the ones you don’t have is a valid option.
  • Decide on which format to use (consolidated or open) by talking to your client about her needs.

4. How about the sample rate and bit depth?

  • You should receive files at the same sample rate and bit depth as they were recorded.
  • No upsampling, no downsampling.
  • A very common format for audio production nowadays is 48 kHz / 24 bit.
  • If your client recorded at a higher sample rate than your setup accepts, receive the source files in high definition, then create lower sample rate versions upon import and use those for mixing.
  • When you bounce your mix, relink the high-resolution files using an interface/studio which supports the higher sample rate.

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