1. Why Spanner?

    A spanner is what the English call a wrench. It’s a simple machine, but damn it sure is useful. Also a spanner is a thing that, well, spans. Like a bridge. Spanner makes connections and it tightens up what’s coming loose. Spanner is working class and we're all about seeing a solution rather than a problem.

  2. Should I be expecting to hear British accents when I come to Spanner?

    No, but I do like Peter Sellers and several of my microphones are said to have belonged to a friend of a cousin of Lemmy from Motorhead.

  3. What is mastering and why should i worry about it?

    Mastering is the final step in the production process. Its where the stereo mix is processed with peak limiting, compression and equalization. This is generally when the track is brought up to maximum volume and treated so that your mix will translate on all speakers and stereo systems. I provide mastering as a service, but will sometimes recommend an outside mastering service on projects that I have tracked and mixed. It can be invaluable to have a fresh set of ears on a project.

  4. Who is Charles Allison and what is he on about?

    I'm just this guy. I make tons of music and I care a lot about how it all works, technically and creatively. I spend most of my waking hours, and probably some dreaming hours, thinking about how things sound and why. I grew up as an army brat living all over the world and that informs my musical tastes greatly. In short though, I like earnest music. The kind that sounds like someone making the thing they were put on this planet to make. I aspire to always make that kind of music. I generally only work on projects that excite me. If its not a good fit creatively, I may pass on certain projects for the sake of all involved.

  5. Where is Spanner?

    I'm in Tennessee but I work with folks all over the world through this crazy thing called the internet.

  6. How can we exchange tracks and sessions?

    There are a multitude of ways to send information back and forth through the internet and its ever changing. I'm always on the hunt for better ways, but currently I use Dropbox. I'll create a folder and invite you via email to share it. If you install Dropbox on your computer it will tell you whenever i've added new files to it. This way we're linked up pretty tight. It works great for delivering mixes and revisions.

  7. How can I prepare audio files for mixing?

    When preparing songs for a mix please follow these guidelines. There are specific instructions for Pro Tools and Logic below these general instructions:


    Make sure that all edits are good, take the time before you consolidate the files to really listen to the edit points to check for clicks, weird transitions, anything that might cause attention to be drawn to the edit. In Pro Tools, you can use Beat Detective to fill and crossfade if you have a lot of edits on a track.


    If you use any plugins please make sure that they are removed or bypassed before exporting your files.

    If you are using any automation, please remove or bypass it before exporting.

    If the automation or plugin is vital to the track, please export the automated/effected track in addition to the unprocessed file.


    Consolidate each track so that all of the audio files start at the same point (i.e. Bar zero...). This will allow them to be imported in the proper time relationship.

    Make sure that there is at least one bar before the song begins, do not trim the export to the first beat.

    I can accept files in any combination of WAV, AIFF, or SDII format, and any combination of bit depths but all tracks need to be at the same sample rate.


    Please make sure that each track is clearly labeled. Simple labels are best. 

    Please remove all unintentional track name suffixes. For example: "Lead Guitar_03_01.wav" should be renamed "Lead Guitar.wav".

    Please make sure that all stereo files are named identically with a "dot R" and "dot L" designation. For example "OH.L.wav " and "OH.R.wav" NOT "OH.L.wav and "OH_01.R.wav" Count the spaces.

    If you are creating files on a Mac using OSX, make sure that the file permissions are set to "read/write"


    Make sure that the lead vocal is comped and clearly labeled "Lead vocal" or something like that.

    If you have any other vocal tracks which are separate from the lead vocal, be sure that they are properly labeled.

    In general, you can reduce confusion by making sure that any track which is intended to be included in the final mix is specifically labeled in a unique way.


    Please include with each song: tempo information, time signature, key signature, and any other applicable information.

    This information should be documented in a text file and placed in the song folder with the audio files.


    How to Consolidate in Pro Tools:

    Select each track all the way from the end back to a time index of zero.

    Consolidate this selection. This will create a new continuous track.

    Export that track as a WAV or AIF file to a new folder named "Consolidated (song name) audio xx bpm" etc.

    RENAME the consolidated tracks as described in item 4 above.


    More thorough directions for Pro Tools users:

    Use the CONSOLIDATE REGION function in the Edit menu.

    CONSOLIDATE the audio regions of each track so they are displayed as one region, without edits. 
Highlight all of the regions on each track and select CONSOLIDATE REGION function in the Edit menu.

    Once that is done and the selected track now appears as one continuous
 audio region, you can go to the audio region list to the right hand of
 the edit screen. Under this menu heading is an item called "export
 region as file". If the region is highlighted and you select this 
item, you will be prompted to select various audio file types (AIF,
WAV, SDll etc..). 

    Make sure you select "multiple mono files" so you 
don't create a "false stereo file". Even though it says "multiple" if 
the file is a single mono file, it will stay single.

    I recommend choosing "select all unused audio files" after you are done and deleting unused audio files. This is a good practice for archiving so that your sessions audio file folder is not cluttered with files that aren't used in the actual session. Its one less thing Pro Tools can lose when it hoses up your disk allocation.


    Look at the begining of an audio region to determine if the source track is mono or stereo: mono (single circle) or stereo (linked circles). 

    Use the button at the bottom of each mixer channel to set it's mono/stereo state to match the source track.

    If there is a "mono->stereo" Plug-In on a mono track, the channel output mode will show as "stereo" (linked circles),

    though the source track is "mono". In this case press the symbol to make the output "mono" again.

    Go to the "FILE" menu and select "Export..." and then "All Tracks as Audio Files"

    When the export window opens, do not change the name in the "Save As" field, 

    It should automatically read something like "48 (or however many) tracks to be bounced"

    The initial destination folder will be set to "Bounces" but feel free to change this to a location that you can easily find later.

    In the lower left corner of this window, press the "New Folder" button and create a folder for the song you are exporting, 

    Additionally, you can create a sub folder for  the instrument group (i.e. DRUMS) you are exporting if you like.

    In the "Save Format" drop down menu, select "WAV" as the file type.

    In the "Bit Depth" drop down, select 24bit (unless the originating files are 16bit).

    Be certain that you have selected "Bypass Effect Plug-ins", but do not select "Include Volume/Pan Automation"

    If a Plug-In or Automation is important to the production, please include a second pass of the selected track and include the Plug-ins and Automation.

    Leave the "Normalize" selection to "Overload Protection Only".

    Press "Save" in the lower right corner.

     ZIP the resulting folder by selecting it, "ctrl-click" and select the "Compress (folder name)" option.