Wonderland Studios -- Buda, TX, (Suburb of Austin, Texas)

Quick Overview - What is Mastering? - Mastering is usually the final step in the recording process. Mastering is discussed in more length at our Mastering link. The mastered version becomes "The Master" which usually becomes the final version of a song or release that's then used to make copies of the recording (for vinyl, CDs EPs) and/or provided for digital releases, streaming, downloads etc. Mastering adds such important items as increased overall volume, clarity and punch, improved stereo image, balanced EQ to help your mixes translate better across various "real-world" speakers and systems, more consistent volume from song to song, cohesiveness to the whole sound and project to help all mixes fit together on a given release, adds spacing and/or cross-fades from one song to the next, and even metadata embedded into the music files etc. Mastering a music release is especially important now that people listen on a myriad of devices (stereos, cars, phones, computers, earbuds etc). We often ask for STEMS for certain projects. STEMS are individual parts of the mix such as all Drum elements mixed together as a single WAV file, all Vocal elements as a WAV file, all Guitars as a WAV file, etc). STEM Mastering is a process that can often offer greater control over the sonic shape and balance of your music and can sometimes garner even better results.

What is Mixing? Usually the general process of a release goes from the recording stage (tracking) to mixing then to mastering. During mixing specific adjustments can be made on individual instruments/tracks in a given mix (such as specific instrument EQ changes or volume changes for balancing mix, frequency adjustments between various instruments for mix clarity). Mixing is usually a combination of art and technology using well trained ears and experience to create a new sonic reality from the recorded material. Whereas, during Mastering it's more of a global "sweetening" or "final sheen" on the overall mix. However, some even more detailed enhancements can be made to mixes that are provided to a Mastering Engineer as STEMS (individual parts of the mix).

How does Wonderland Studios prefer to receive audio files/sessions for Mixing?

* Send us your files to mix via any file transfer site such as Dropbox, WeTransfer, Hightail, or Google Drive etc. We prefer the files/sessions to be either 24-bit, 44.1kHz (or 48kHz) or higher resolution if the session was recorded in higher resolution. Don't Dither up, only send files in the given sample rate/resolution that is was recorded.

* We will not mix a project from mp3 files. We prefer either WAV or AIFF files. We also often prefer that all files be exported from the session (yes, each separate file that includes any plug-ins you're using processed into that exported file to provide your prefered sound for that track. Obviously any provided track can then be enhanced/changed further in the mixing stage. Additionally, we prefer that all files for a session be the exact same length (for example, if the song is 3:31 in length, the guitar track file should be 3:31, the vocal file should be 3:31, etc). That ensures that all files will pull into a session on our end at the correct starting point and all play together in sync. Please email us at WonderlandStudios@gmail.com or call to ask us questions before sending any files for mixing sessions.

How does Wonderland Studios prefer to receive audio files/sessions for Mastering?

* Send us your files to master via any file transfer site such as Dropbox, WeTransfer, Hightail, or Google Drive etc. We prefer the files to be either 24-bit, 44.1kHz (or 48kHz) or higher resolution if the session was recorded in higher resolution.

Tips for things to check before sending us files for mastering -

1. Listen to your mix all the way through and make sure you're happy with the overall mix.

2. Check for any pops or clicks (often on vocal tracks or from edits not cross-faded).

3. Leave some headroom and make sure there's still dynamics in the mix (don't send a super loud mix with no headroom). If the master meter is slammed to the top and not moving much then your mix is too loud. If limiting or master bus compression is part of the sound of the mix, see if you can reduce it some to leave some headroom and get an overall mix you're still happy with before sending it to us. We can help put together a better master if you leave some dynamics and you don't send us a slammed loud mix.

4. You may want to provide us a reference track (a version of the mix that does include any master limiting/compression that you liked as part of the overall sound/mix). That will give us a reference of the volume and sound you liked with any master limiting or compression that you added to the master bus/channel. But, also provide us a version without any master limiting/compression, or reduced, so we have some headroom to work with to enhance your mix.

5. Also, it's good to leave a tiny bit of space at the beginning and ending of a mix because a click/pop can happen from exporting/bouncing from some DAWs (Digital Audio WorkStations).

6. Send us the final mix in either WAV or AIFF at the same sample rate/resolution as the session was recorded. For example, if recorded as 24-bit, 48kHz, then send us the mix in 24-bit, 48kHz. You shouldn't do any dithering to send us your mix. Dithering is the process of adding noise to a signal in order to reduce quantization distortion when reducing the bit depth of a file. Dithering should only be applied during the mastering stage.

Get to know us! Above is an interview with Eric McKinney (owner of Wonderland Studios) on the Lights Camera Texas program recorded at our previous Austin studio space in 2019. We've since moved the studio to our new space in Buda, TX. There are segments in this video covering being prepared and about the various services that Wonderland Studios provides. Check out the video to put a face to the name and hear more about Wonderland Studios in this interview.

Email: WonderlandStudios@gmail.com

Phone: 512-587-5823 (Phone off during sessions, please email for fastest response)