BOOKING A SESSION

When booking a session at Derek Benjamin Music, we ask that you please read or review our booking guidelines below. For any questions you may have, feel free to contact us!

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING

  • Any instrumentals, trackouts, stems or pro tools sessions that are necessary for the session. If you choose to send files online, please use Google drive or Wetransfer and see our File Prep Guidelines for more info.
  • The client is responsible for securing the necessary licenses, permissions and clearances for any instrumentals, samples or content BEFORE the session takes place. We will not be held liable for any type of copyright or legal claims for content that a client writes or provides.
  • An external hard drive to transfer files, as well as take any recordings or files when you leave
  • Any instruments or required gear (amps, pedals, drums/hardware, strings etc.). We have some instruments and equipment that can be used, but you need to communicate that to us before the day of the session
  • If you have a specific microphone preference or would like to look into renting from a selection of top of the line vintage microphones (U47, U67, etc.), let us know in advance!

 

PAYMENT & DEPOSIT

  • For billing purposes, we require an email address and full name (for individuals) or a business name
  • A 50% deposit is required for all bookings. The time slot will not be reserved or confirmed until the deposit has been received
  • Your session may be rescheduled without penalty up to 24 hours before the booking
  • Deposits are refundable at the discretion of management
  • Payment is accepted by e-transfer, cash, paypal or credit card. Payments can be sent to [email protected] Please enter the project or song name in the transfer description
  • Recording session payment must be made either upon arrival or at the end of the session unless prior arrangements have been made
  • You pay for the BOOKED TIME, not the time you arrive. If you are late, the lost time will be considered part of the booking.
  • If you need more time, your session may be extended at the discretion of the engineer/management
  • File prep, editing, data transfer and file exporting time is considered part of the studio time and will not be done before or after the booked time frame
  • There may be extra charges associated with videography and content creation within the studio that are beyond the scope of a normal recording session. Please notify us of any plans during the booking process.

 

FILE DELIVERY & EXPECTATIONS

  • When you book a recording session, you are paying for the time, equipment and staff to assist you in recording your project
  • The RAW audio files created during your session are part of that fee and are property of the client once payment has been made in full. Clients are responsible for bringing a hard drive and taking their audio files with them at the end of a session
  • We have a backup system and server that we store all of our work, which we do as a courtesy for our clients. However, we are not responsible and cannot be held liable for the loss of any recorded materials after the session is complete
  • PRODUCTION: As creative individuals, we have the right to decline production work on a project by project basis. If our individual engineers/producers do not deem the project suitable to their style or image, they are not required to take on a project. We will always try to find the best way to compliment an artists sound, even if an external producer needs to be brought in
  • MIXING & MASTERING: We generally provide mixing & mastering services for our clientele. Pricing is provided by QUOTE/ESTIMATE on a song by song basis. We need to see and assess the complete recordings (track-outs) before providing a quote. Similar to production, mixing & mastering are both creative services that are fulfilled separately from your recording session
  • ROUGH BOUNCES & REFERENCE TRACKS: Upon completing your session, we will generally provide a rough bounce of your song(s). These are uploaded to the online platform mixup.audio. These rough mixes are only a preview of your song. They are not complete, and any mixing, tuning and editing that is beyond the scope of the RAW audio files is owned by Derek Benjamin Music. These previews are not available for download and cannot be used or released in any manner

 

STUDIO RULES

  • Respect each other, your engineer, and interns!
  • Guests beyond the individual booking need to be approved beforehand. This includes videography and other professionals
  • No smoking inside the studio, please smoke outside the front door
  • No overuse of alcohol or other substances; The majority of artists perform worse under the influence. Additionally, there are expensive and delicate electronics and microphones that are difficult to replace
  • Please keep open liquids away from the desk and equipment

EXPORTING STEMS/TRACKOUTS FOR MIXING

  • Remove all plugins, automation and aux/efx tracks unless specific effects are required. If effects are left on, please include a note with the track name and reason
  • Consolidate each individual file before bouncing at the same starting point, preferably on a grid measure that lines up with the correct tempo
  • Name/label each track in a simple manner that easily describes the instrument or sound
  • Vocal files should be mono audio files, while instruments could be either mono or stereo depending on the intention.  If there is specific panning required, include it in the name of each track (ex: Backup Vocal Left)
  • Remove any muted or blank tracks from your export selection
  • Please do not use normalizing when exporting, make sure that all of your audio tracks are not clipping at any point in the song
  • Please include reference mixes, or referencing material
  • If you have difficulties with the exporting process, We can take the session file and complete the export process for you for an additional charge
  • Export audio files in WAV or AAC in the same sample rate/bit depth as the session.

 

HOW TO FIND THE SAMPLE RATE IN YOUR DAW:

  • In Pro Tools, go to Setup > Session
  • In Logic Pro, go to  File > Project Settings > Audio
  • In Ableton Live, go to Options > Preferences > Audio
  • In FL studio, to find the sample rate, go to Options > Audio Settings > Audio >

EXPORTING FILES FOR MASTERING

  • Bypass or remove all compression, EQ, limiting or any other plugins on your master fader
  • Make sure the master channel has at least -3db of headroom at the loudest part of the song
  • Export a stereo audio file in WAV format in the same sample rate/bit depth as your session.  See above for finding this information in your DAW
  • Name/Label each file as follows “Track Number. Artist - Song Name - BPM
  • ex. “1. Derek Benjamin - My Song - 99BPM”

 

PACKAGING, UPLOADING & SENDING FILES

  • Create a unique folder for each song, where you can place the individual stems
  • For projects create a parent folder to include all the track folders
  • Zip or RAR the parent folder and upload to Google Drive, Wetransfer or a service of your choice.  Please do not use dropbox, as any files larger than 2gb cannot be downloaded without an active subscription

Audio terminology can be downright confusing. Even familiar words often take on new meanings when used to describe sound. If you’ve ever been on an audio forum, discussed a mix with a client, or read gear reviews, you’ve likely been pelted by a multitude of technical and descriptive terms. Use the list below to improve your ability to use your software and hardware and communicate effectively with clients, engineers, and producers.

DESCRIPTIVE TONE TERMINOLOGY

Boomy: a build-up of low frequencies—often in low-pitched drums—that causes an overpowering emphasis on the sustain of the sound

Bright: a lack of low frequencies; a sound that has more high range

Boxy: a lack of low and high frequencies; a sound that has too much midrange

Dark: a lack of high frequencies; may sound flat or boring

Dry: an unprocessed sound or a lack of effects, such as reverb, delay, saturation, etc.

Crunchy: slightly distorted as a result of over-compression, over-limiting, clipping, or intentional overdrive

Essy: Sibilance or harsh frequencies that are accentuated by S, C or F sounds

Warm: a tonal quality characterized by mild levels of even harmonic distortion

Hiss: high-frequency noise, typically without any recognizable pitch

Muddy: a build-up of low-mid frequencies that reduces the ability to clearly hear individual elements of a mix

Pumping: short-duration volume surges caused by over-compression, over-limiting, or incorrect configuration of a compressor/limiter’s settings

Subbiness/Subby: excessive level in the “subwoofer territory” (sub-low frequencies, typically below 60 Hz)

Wet: refers to the amount of effects such as reverb, delay, saturation, etc.

COMPRESSION TERMINOLOGY

Attack: this refers to 1) the very beginning of a sound, and 2) the amount of time it takes after a sound begins for a sound processor to begin working. Usually measured in milliseconds (ms)

Compression: reducing a signal’s output volume in relation to its input volume to reduce its dynamic range. Basically, when a sound gets louder than a certain level, a compressor turns the sound down. This controls the dynamics to make it more consistent

Knee: A control on a compressor that changes how variable the severity of compression is once the threshold has been passed. A “soft” knee makes the compression less obvious, whereas a “hard” knee makes the compressor more obvious.

Limiter: A compressor with a ratio of ∞:1, otherwise known as a “brick wall.” This means that when a sound reaches the threshold of a limiter, it doesn’t get any louder – it stays the exact same volume. This is used to prevent a track from peaking while at the same time increasing its perceived loudness.

Makeup gain: A parameter that allows you to increase the output volume of a sound processor that makes the input sound quieter. For example, a compressor makes sounds softer, so makeup gain is needed to keep the sound at the same volume that it previously was.

Noise gate: A sound processor that cuts off the volume of a sound once it passes below a certain volume threshold.

Ratio: A parameter of a compressor that determines how hard the compressor clamps down on the volume of the audio. If a ratio is set to 2:1, then for every 2dB’s of audio that goes above the threshold, 1dB comes out. If the ratio is set to 4:1, then for every 4dB’s of audio that goes above the threshold, 1dB comes out

Release: How long it takes a sound processor to cease processing the sound. Usually measured in milliseconds (ms). For example, if the release of a compressor is set to 100ms, then the compressor will stop processing the sound 100ms after it has been activated

Threshold: A parameter of a sound processor that tells the processor to not kick in until the volume of an incoming sound exceeds the set volume limit. For example, a compressor does not start to turn down audio until the instrument gets louder than the threshold set by the user

Transient: The very beginning section of a sound. Also known as the sound’s attack. It’s the loudest and most percussive part of the sound

DELAY & REVERB TERMINOLOGY

Ambience: background noise added to a musical recording to give the impression that it was recorded live. Often done using short room reverbs.

Decay: How fast a sound fades from a certain loudness.

Delay (or echo): A processor that creates copies of a sound source that repeat over and over, fading slowly. Commonly used with vocals and electric guitar

Feedback: When a signal is sent through an amplifier and into a microphone, which picks up the sound and sends it back through the amplifier, and so on. The loop of sound creates high pitched whines. Also refers to the parameter on a delay that adds more repetitions of the sound

Ping-Pong: A delay that alternates between the left and right speakers

Pre-delay: A short delay between a sound and when an effect begins. Usually measured in milliseconds (ms). For example, a 50ms reverb pre-delay means that there is 50ms between the actual sound and when the reverberated sound starts

Reverb: the sound of a room after a sound has been produced inside it. If more reverb is desired, it can be added to a recording digitally via a reverb plugin.

Slapback: A quick delay (30-200ms) with little to no repetitions.

GENERAL TERMINOLOGY

Attenuate: turn down or lower the level

Automation: changes to parameters such as gain and pan that a system can record and play in synchronization with the timeline of a project

Bit Depth: the audio bit depth determines the number of possible amplitude values we can record for each sample. The most common audio bit depths are 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit. Generally recordings are in 24 or 32 bit until the mastering engineer renders them to 16-bit. Devices and streaming services are beginning to use 24-bit audio for lossless audio

Bounce: another word for export. If you are “bouncing a track,” that means you’re just exporting a session into a listenable format, like an mp3 or wav file

BPM: Beats Per Minute. It’s the tempo of the song

Brickwall Limiter: a digital limiter that prevents its output from exceeding a defined level regardless of input level (as opposed to a ‘soft’ limiter)

Chorus: a sound processor that makes a sound seem doubled by creating several delayed copies of the original sound and slightly varying the pitch of each copy. Used to “thicken” a sound

Clipping (or Peaking): another word for distorting. “Clipping” occurs when a digital signal hits or exceeds 0dBFS, while analog clipping is variable based on the voltage limitations of the equipment. Proper gain staging and allowing for head room will help to avoid clipping

Collisions/Masking: minimized audibility of a signal caused by the presence of similar frequencies in another simultaneously-occurring sound (e.g. a bass guitar with an abundance of 50 to 70 Hz may mask a kick with a fundamental of 60 Hz)

Comb Filtering: frequency cancellations occurring in intervals (e.g. 500 Hz, 1.5 kHz, 2.5 kHz, etc), typically due a delay between multiple identical signals that are being mixed together

Comping: combining several different takes of an instrument into one. Basically, copying the best parts of each recording and pasting them onto a single track, so that the performance of that instrument is the best it can be

Consolidate: Rendering or joining individual clips on a track into a single audio clip. Generally used to preserve alignment when exporting trackouts or stems

Crunch/Squash/Smash: Over-compressing a track or parallel bus track to create a pumping, distorted sound to blend into the mix. Typically used on drums

DAW: Digital Audio Workstation. The software that you record, edit, mix, and master in. Popular versions are Pro Tools, Logic Pro, GarageBand, Ableton Live, etc.

Depth: differentiation between close and distant sounds

Decay: how fast a sound fades from a certain loudness

Decibel (or dB): the main unit of volume measurement. A dB is relative, as there are several different “scales” of dB’s that are used in audio (dB-FS being the most common, along with dB-VU, dB-RMS, and dB-LUFS). Each dB scale has a certain function in audio

Dithering: adding white noise to a recording to reduce distortion when the recording is exported at a lower bit rate. Only used during the mastering process

Doubling or Dubs: recording a second or multiple takes of a part that can be layered together to create a thicker, more full sound

Phasing: timing differences when combining identical (or nearly identical) signals. This can be a result of static delay between the signals, placement between multiple microphones and can also come from extreme boosts when using non-linear phase EQs

Fade: the increase and decrease of volume at the beginning and end of a sound or a song

Fatigue: the natural degradation of the accuracy of the human ear over several hours of listening. The ear is like a muscle – when it is used a lot, it gets tired. When a mixer reaches the point of listener fatigue, he or she needs to rest their ears, or they will start to make poor mixing choices as their ears are no longer accurate

Flanger: uses the same process as a chorus, but with dramatically short delays. Rather than “thickening” a sound, a flanger is usually less subtle. It’s been described as sounding “like an airplane flying right over your head.”

Flip the Phase (a.k.a Reverse Polarity): to invert the positive and negative excursions of a signal 180 degrees. Positive excursions become negative and negative excursions become positive. This is usually done to check the phase correlation between multiple sources

Fundamental: When a sound is produced by an instrument, a series of harmonics are created that determine the tone of that sound. The lowest (and loudest) of those frequencies is the fundamental. It is the primary harmonic of that sound

Gain: this is a synonym for volume, though it’s often used as another word for distortion.

Gain Staging: this refers to 1) the process of making sure a recording is the same volume after a plugin as it was before, and 2) the process of making sure all of the tracks in a session are low enough volume to allow for headroom both on the individual track and on the master track (all tracks combined)

Headroom: the amount of volume a channel can take before distorting. The louder the sound, the less headroom it has. For example, if a sound is peaking at -5dB, it has 5dB’s of headroom. If it’s peaking at -1dB, it has 1 dB of headroom

Harmonics: multiples of a fundamental frequency (e.g. 2 kHz is the 2nd harmonic of 1 kHz)

Harmonic Distortion: coloration or modification of a signal caused by the introduction of a series of harmonics

Harshness: an excessive amount of high frequencies

High Pass Filter (Low Cut): a filter that reduces low frequencies but allows high frequencies to pass through unaffected

Imaging: the ability to accurately position or distinguish signals in the left-to-right stereo field

Latency: the amount of delay between the input and the output of a signal. Latency usually refers to the delay that occurs when someone tries to record something when there are too many plugins on the session. The input (the instrument) is delayed so that the output (the recording) is several milliseconds behind, causing a frustrating delay in a performer’s headphones

Low Pass Filter (High Cut): a filter that reduces high frequencies at a set decibel per octave value, but allows low frequencies to pass through unaffected

LUFS: units of audio loudness. The acronym stands for loudness units relative to full scale. This is the standard scale used by streaming services

LU: Loudness Units vary depending on the length at which they are measured. This shows you the dynamic range of a track and helps measure the changes in loudness between sections

Metering: a tool used to help measure and evaluate the level of a signal in a variety of different ways

Microphone Types:

  • Condenser: Generally the most sensitive and open sound. Some have variable polar patterns which makes them versatile. Room treatment and soundproofing is an important variable when using a condenser as they have minimal noise rejection
  • Dynamic: Generally directional, non phantom powered microphones that have more noise rejection.  These are generally positioned close to the source and will not pick-up as much bleed or background noise as condensers or ribbons
  • Ribbon: These are similar to dynamic mics in function, but have a natural high end roll off and lend themselves to a more vintage, natural tone

Mono: A sound with one source and no stereo field

Stereo: A 2-channel, left and right track with a stereo field. Can create the illusion of horizontal space in recordings

Null Test: the process of combining two presumably identical signals at identical volume and pan positions, with the polarity of one signal flipped. They will null (completely cancel out) and yield no output signal if they are identical

Pan: the control to move a sound left or right within the stereo field

Parallel Processing: applying processing to a copy of an original signal and mixing the copy and the original together

Phaser: A sound processor that removes certain random frequencies by creating a copy of the soundwave and moving it back and forth, causing a “phasing” sound

Pitch Shifter: A sound processor that changes the pitch of a sound

Plosives: sounds made from the mouth that blow quick bursts of air. Common examples are words with p’s, b’s, t’s, k’s, and d’s.

Plug-in: A piece of software used within a DAW that processes the sound of a recording.

Proximity effect: the closer you get to the microphone, the more low frequencies are recorded. This phenomenon is only present when using a condenser or ribbon mic.

Resonant Peaks: occasional volume boosts at specific frequencies, resulting from the sum of multiple signals creating an increase in energy that is most noticeable in a limited frequency range. Among other things, resonant peaks can be caused by filter ring, mic placement, room modes, and instruments that have uneven character.

Room tone: the tone of the reverb produced in a room. Also refers to how the room “colors” a sound

Sample Rate: the number of samples of audio recorded every second. It is measured in samples per second or Hertz (abbreviated as Hz or kHz, with one kHz being 1000 Hz). Standard recording sample rates are 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kilohertz. The standard for consumer audio is 44.1kHz, while the standard for film is 48kHz. Recordings are typically done at a higher sample rate, then converted down by the mastering engineer

Saturation: usually refers to the distortion that occurs when a piece of analog equipment is overloaded by a sound passing through it. Though overloading digital equipment tends to produce harsh sounds, saturation can make a sound “fat,” “round,” or “smooth.” Saturation is one of the most sought-after parts of analog equipment

Shelf: an EQ that applies a consistent boost or cut to all frequencies above or below a defined frequency

Sibilance: spikes in loudness at high-frequencies in vocal tracks, often caused by sharp consonant sounds such S’s and T’s

Sidechaining: using one signal to trigger a processor on a different signal (typically feeding the sidechain of a compressor with an altered or secondary signal). Keying is a loose synonym

Sustain: How long a sound can hold before it begins to fade

Threshold: A parameter of a sound processor that tells the processor to not kick in until the volume of an incoming sound exceeds the set volume limit. For example, a compressor does not start to turn down audio until the instrument gets louder than the threshold set by the user

Tonal balance: the distribution of energy across the audio spectrum

Transient: the very beginning section of a sound. Also known as the sound’s attack. It’s the loudest and most percussive part of the sound

Tremolo: A sound processor that either quickly turns the volume of a sound up and down, or quickly pans it left to right

Waveform: the shape of a sound wave

Wavelength: how long a wave is. The shorter the wavelength, the faster the wave

Width: the perceived difference in left-to-right spacing between signals (how “far apart” signals sound)