USB memory sticks are getting really cheap, especially the sub-32MB models. So create a text file with all your software authorization codes, passwords to websites where you get your updates, activation codes, serial numbers, and the like. Save this to your USB stick for backup — it’s a pretty robust medium.
Your client wants a loud CD. You want something where you don’t have to use a nom de plume like Alan Smithee to avoid embarrassment. Compromise time: Bring down the gain of entire sections that are loud, without compressing them. Then bring up the level of the whole file, and add a bit of compression to bring up the average level. Mission accomplished.
3 Life was complicated enough when software was a work-in-progress, but now hardware has joined the “to be announced” club. Specifically, DVD-RW drives tend to be picky about the media they use, but firmware updates can make them more accommodating. Check the drive manufacturer’s website for firmware updates, and follow installation instructions to the letter. Otherwise, your drive might end up in worse shape than when it started. And make sure the electricity doesn’t go out while you’re updating, either. But if it does. . . .
Panic time! The lights are down, something’s not right, and you can’t see what’s going on with your pedals, your rack, or whatever. Got cell? Whip it out, and open it up. The screen will actually generate a fair amount of light, especially if you have a white screen or bright picture as a background.
The “industry standard” for space between songs on a Red Book CD is two seconds. But it’s a standard, not a law. Don’t be shy about tightening up the space, or extending it, as the material requires.
When you want to add dynamics control to a tune, be aware that loudness maximization and multiband compression have different effects on stereo imaging. Multiband compression generally “spreads out” the soundstage a bit more, whereas loudness maximization tends to preserve the stereo imaging better.
Always listen to a CD all the way through in mono as well as stereo before sending it to the duplicators, just in case there are strange phase things happening that will come back to haunt you.
Making your own Red Book CD? Great. But when you place the markers that indicate the start of a song, don’t butt them right up to the beginning. Instead, put them at least 15–20ms before the beginning. Some cheapo CD players overshoot the mark when seeking the start of a cut.
Have a picture book sitting around your studio with really beautiful images (for example, pictures of earth from space or Vargas pinups — whatever turns you on). When there’s a creative block due to excessive time spent in left-brain mode, images can sometimes kick-start the right (creative/intuitive) side of your brain.
With a dual-monitor setup, try not to mix LCD and CRT screens. The CRT may need to be set to a “lowest common denominator” refresh rate, which can produce nasty flickering that will drive your eyes bonkers after awhile.