ron-wikso-logo---september-2011

Custom Pro Drum Tracks - Frequently Asked Questions

Check here for answers to some commonly asked questions about the drum tracks I can provide for your project. I will add to this FAQ as I get more and more questions asked of me. Of course, if you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me and I'll be happy to answer them.

What's the best format for my song files?

You can send your tracks using common file formats such as WAV, Broadcast WAV, AIFF and Sound Designer II (this one's pretty rarely used, actually). Any of those formats are fine for me to track to because I know Nuendo, the recording software that I use, can read them. You can check the Nuendo site for further information on compatible file formats.

How do I send you my song files?

The easiest and most efficient way is for me to set up a Dropbox folder where you can just drag and drop your song files and I can then upload the completed drum files.

There are other ways too though, including FTP or even just a page on a website (probably best if it's not a public page) where you can give me a URL (web address) from which to download them. Another is to use a service such as You Send It (www.yousendit.com) or SendThisFile (www.sendthisfile.com) or WeTransfer (www.wetransfer.com) that allows you to upload large files for free. If you use any of those services, I will receive a notification via e-mail when the file(s) are available for me to download. Lastly, you could even go old school and just burn .WAV files onto a CD-ROM or DVD and send them to me via snail mail. Bottom line, let's do whatever is most comfortable and easiest for you!

Can I send you the source tracks via e-mail?

That's fine, as long as the files are not too big for e-mail, which is rare for full bandwidth audio files. It's probably better to use one of the methods described above.

Can I send you mp3 files?

You could but of course, you should be aware that mp3 files do not have the bandwidth or fidelity of .WAV files. Typically, if you send me an mp3 file, I will convert it to a .WAV file anyway when importing it into my Nuendo session. Also, there can sometimes be issues with mp3's where they write extra information into the head (metadata) of the file, which can cause them to not line up correctly in the software.

How should I prepare the tracks I'm sending you to play to?

You simply need to make a stereo mix of your song, without drums, and save it as a .WAV file. It can also be helpful if you'd like to send me a version another with your scratch drums, particularly if there is anything from there that you'd like me to emulate when I play. You could send me the scratch drums separately or you could make a separate stereo mix that includes the scratch drums.

Most digital audio software packages will let you create a mix from directly within the software and 'bounce' or 'merge' your separate tracks into one stereo mix. It helps if you can also send me a separate file with just a click track on it, and also tell me the tempo of the song, so that I can set that up in my software. Some people like to keep the vocals and/or the bass separate too. It's fine if you'd like to do that but it's not necessary as long as I can hear those elements in your stereo mix. The stereo mix can be a 'rough' mix since it's mainly meant to give me something to play to.

Additionally, even though it is not necessary, it is very helpful if you record to a bars and beats grid and tell me what the song tempo is so that I can line things up in my software easily. This allows me to create my own click track if necessary and to check the tracks against both the audio click and the visual grid, to make sure it's all good.

If you are sending the files on CD or DVD, once you have your .WAV files ready to go, just burn them onto the disk and pop them in the mail to me (e-mail me for the address). If you are using a Mac, you must burn the CD using the ISO-9660 burning standard, which allows CD's to be read on either the Mac or Windows platform (check your burning software's options for that).

What format do you send me the drum tracks in?

I will typically send you back 13 individual .wav files as follows: Interior Kick Drum, Exterior Kick Drum, Snare Top, Snare Bottom, Snare Rim, Tom 1, Tom 2, Tom 3, Left Overhead, Right Overhead, Left Room, Right Room and Hi Hat. This represents one track for each of the microphones that I normally use on the drumkit and allows for maximum flexibility when it comes to applying effects (reverbs, delays etc.), dynamics (compression, limiting etc.) and the overall blend of the drumkit. For example, if you would like to hear more of that bottom snare mic, you can adjust it to your hearts delight! If you don't like what that sounds like, you can undo it! Of course, if you would like to receive some other configuration of tracks, I can work that out with you on a case by case basis.

I can work with files at 16 or 24 bit and 44.1 or 48 khz. Although my software and soundcard can function at 96 khz, I do not have 13 A/D converters that can work at 96 khz.

Are the drum tracks you send me stereo, mono or multi-track?

The individual tracks are, of course, mono in that each microphone equals one track, with the multitracks being the total of the 13 individual tracks. The only time there would be stereo tracks is if you wanted something pre-mixed such as having all three tom mics recorded onto 2 tracks or, if you wanted to have the entire set of drum tracks premixed into one stereo track, similar to the way pre-recorded loops are normally done.

If we're not using the same software, how do I know the drum tracks will line up correctly in my Digital Audio Workstation Software?

I always suggest having a common starting point in your software such as 00:00:00:00 (or Bar 1, Beat 1 on the bars & beats grid). If you make a mix (as described above) that starts at Bar 1 (or 00:00:00:00) and you then send me your files, I will start recording the drum tracks at that same spot as well. Then, when you receive the tracks back from me, all you have to do is place each one in your software at the same starting point and it will automatically line up. It works every time and there's no need for any time code!

I got your tracks back but my software won't import or convert them. What's wrong?

This is a problem that almost never occurs anymore but was more common several years ago and was usually caused when people forget to transfer the audio files that were sent them on a disk (CD or DVD), from the disk onto their hard drive I've actually never experienced this problem when uploading files via a service like Dropbox or WeTransfer.

In any event, if we do us a physical disk to transfer them, it's important to remember that when the tracks are on the CD or DVD disk, they are "read-only" which sometimes means (depending on the software and the particular operating system being used) that the software may not know what to do with the files. Also, if the files are still on the disk, you will be asking your software to try and run those files from your CD drive, which will not be fast enough.

You must first transfer the files from the disk onto your hard drive and into whatever folder you would like (probably the same folder that contains all of the other audio files for the particular song in question) and then ask your software to import them. Some software will just import them. Other software will import and convert the files to the native file format for that program. Occasionally, you may have to change the file attributes by un-checking "read-only" but that is rare.

How can I tell you what I'm looking for in the drum part?

You can tell me in several different ways.

  • If you have worked on your song using a drum machine or loop and would like me to play something along the lines of what you have, you can send me a copy of the song with that on it so that I can listen to it and see where you're coming from.
  • If you are able to write out a drum chart, or even just a chord chart with the appropriate hits, dynamics and style markings, I'm a very good reader and I can read your chart.
  • If you would like to hear a drum part similar to something on another CD, you can either supply me with a copy of that song or, if I already have it in my collection, I can pull it out and listen to it.
  • You could also just give me some rough verbal or written instructions about what you'd like or you could even just leave it up to me to play what I think sounds best. Of course, you can use any combination of the above.

What if I don't like what you played?

If you don't like what I've played, simply let me know what you would like me to do differently and I will re-do the track so that you are happy with it. I don't charge extra for that...I want everyone to be a satisfied customer! What I won't do though, is re-do things again and again and again because you've either changed your mind altogether about what you wanted or you have some other unreasonable expectation or requirement.

How much does it cost?

Of course, this may vary depending on the situation and it's negotiable but for most demo and indie type things, I generally charge $175 per song. The reason I can do it that inexpensively is because it doesn't generally take me very long to do it and I can work by myself, quickly and efficiently.

For major releases, major soundtrack projects, TV jingles and other larger budget types of projects, union double-scale usually applies because there is generally more involved on those kinds of sessions. Depending on the requirements, these sessions may also require the use of an engineer (paid separately) and the rental of certain equipment if the client requires it (also paid separately).

How do I pay you?

PayPal is the easiest and quickest (and secure) way but if you'd like to use that, please use the option to "Send Money to family or friends", which means there are no fees for me to receive the money. You can also send me a check or money order (no fees associated there either!). 

Can I work with you if I'm in a foreign country?

Of course! I've done many tracks for clients in England, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, Canada, Italy, Estonia, Sweden, Australia and many other places.

If you have any other questions or need further clarification of any of the above questions, feel free to e-mail me and I'll answer them as best I can.

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