GUIDE TO GOODNESS
Or how to manage a studio-session without sucking
Here are some rules to ensure a most fulfilling recording experience.
1# BE PREPARED
This may seem obvious but we can't stress this enough. Practise - Practise - Practise! When you enter the studio you should be confident to deliver your parts in the first take. Though perfect first-takes are a rare thing because the recording-situation takes its toll, which we know and understand, practising in the studio, discussing arrangements or lyrics should be avoided at all cost. Yes we can edit your million takes into one that is useable but a steady performance and longer takes will sound more natural and save you tons of time and money.
Shurely you can use our facilities as your creative environment and we won't stop you if you really think the 17683st take will be THE ONE. But in the worst case, when your budget is spent all we can give you is a bunch of not so good takes. Is that what you want!?
2# BE WELL EQUIPPED
Your guitars and basses should have new strings and be well intonated ... and CLEANED! All electrics, guitars - pedals - amps - cables, should work without problem. Your drumheads should have new skins and working mechanics.
We have well maintained instruments at your disposal to keep the process going if your stuff breaks or you search a certain sound that your personal setup doesn't deliver. Furthermore we are able to offer instrument-maintenance to make your instruments sound awesome. But remember that this will take time.
3# BE RELIABLE
It is simple as that. Be on time, be concentrated, be sober! We love a good party here and there but we assure you that recording drunk and coming late won't help the product.
4# DON'T BE A DICK
Do we really have to explain this!? The quality of your music depends on the effort we put in. How would YOU work for people who do not treat you properly?Up
We are happy to receive tracks for mixing that you recorded yourself. Quality recording equipment gets cheaper and cheaper and you can create GREAT stuff in your bedroom. We don't want to restrict your creativity. When it sounds right, it is right. Nonetheless we have a few suggestions.
# Files and Formats
We accept files in a wide range of formats. You can send 16, 24, even 32 bit and 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 or 192 khz. As a good relation between quality and handling, we recommend 24 bit / 44.1 khz. Accepted file formats are AIFF and WAV.
Compressed formats such as mp3 or wmv won't do your music a favour and are therefor no option.
Make shure that all tracks have the same starting point. Even if it is a single tom hit at the very end of a 30 minute song. Don't make us guess where you want that hit to be. If all tracks start at zero, we can work with the arrangement you worked at so hard.
Be consistent and clear when naming tracks. Just think about having a session with 120 tracks named "track 1" to "track 120". We will find out which track does what but you don't need to pay us these hours if you can simply name your tracks clearly in the first place. Also take care that if you send several songs reocuring tracks have the same names. Why do you want "KickIn" in Song1 name "Basedrum1" in Song 2 anyway?!
Clean your Session up before you send it to us. We can not know that you fired your old singer and just muted his tracks. We assume all you send us is free to use. So don't send us tracks you don't want to be used. You can record your instruments and singers with different mics to give us some sound options of course.
Please don't send us stereo-tracks that happen to be just mono-signals with the same signal left and right. This way you avoid us wasting time converting.
We don't need to point out that clipped tracks are a no go, do we?
If you are a lucky owner of a Fairchild or other rare and fancy gear, we envy you and are happy to hear how it sounds. But in general we prefer signals as pure as possible. Give us a Microphone-Cable-Preamp-Converter signalchain and we're happy. If you hang on the sound of specific gear just send us the processed signal and a raw track if possible. Also when you record guitars and bass give us DI-signals with your ampsounds. We will respect your chosen sounds but it is always good to have options.
Beside covering the technical aspects, the rules we established for recording should be your natural working attitude as well. The more you take care of tuned instruments, voices and tight takes, the better our mix for you will be.
We will use all of the force if needed but the capabilities to make shit tasty are limited.
# References and Notes
Yes, every artist wants to sound unique and one thing you hire us for is our taste and a vision we get when hearing your music. So sending us your tracks and letting us do our thing is well appreciated. But if you already have something in mind, tell us. The more information we get, the better and faster we can make you happy.
Some reference in style or song will not make you a copycat. It's still your tracks we work with in the end. And we can discuss sound aspects from the start without wasting time on a mix you wouldn't like. Also with some kind of reference we can communicate issues so you're not surprised your singer/songwriter folksong won't work as a "something like slayer" style. Otherwise ... who knows?!
The easiest way is to send us a link to a cloudfolder where we can download your files.
If wanted we offer access to a folder in our studiocloud on our personal server for more privacy. But we point out that our connection-speed and storage space are limited.
If you trust your delivery service you can send us DVDs or harddrives as well.Up
Mastering is the last artistic step in the music production. So adding a fresh pair of ears and a new perspective to the material are wise things to do. Yes, by this time there are offers of online mastering with algorithms. Have you ever talked and discussed with an algorithm to get more out of your tracks than "my AI says, it has to sound like this so here you go."? No, right?! That's why our offer of mastering services still makes some serious sense.
# Delivery Demands
We're not picky with formats and try to handle whatever we get from you. If your whole mix-session was at 16 bit / 44.1 khz there is no sense in converting your mix-print to 32 bit / 192 khz just for kicks. But if you're at 32/192 anyway, we definitely won't complain. Compressed formats like mp3 or wmv will be rejected ... for your sake!
As a rule of thumb, give us the highest quality that makes still sense.
Make shure the tracks don't clip or have other kinds of distortion. There is no cure for that. Please don't use compression or limiting on your mainbus and leave 3-9dB headroom so we have some room to work with.
Work on your mix until it sounds stunning. There is no "fix it in the mastering". We can make good mixes better but the rule "shit in - shit out" is still relevant.
# Stem Mastering
If you're not shure that your mix is well balanced or you have that noisy frequency that you just can't get rid of it may be better not to give us a 2-track print to master but bus-stems of the main instruments. With for example separated drums, bass, guitars, synths and vocals we can dive deeper into the song and do more precise adjustments. But it does not always have to be this setup. Maybe a vocalstem and an instrumental will be enough. Do just the amount of separation that is needed to isolate your concerns.
Because we handle multiple tracks per song we refer to our mixing advises.
# Master Formats
We arrange the mastering process according to your needs. A classic vinyl master has other requirements than a CD. Online formats such as itunes or Youtube are a different kind of beast again. Just let us know your intentions and you get the optimal master for the platform.Up
As you can see in our equipment list, we have some crappy and some not so crappy gear that we're pleased to share.
# Guitars and Bass
Reamping often means to patch pure DI-tracks of guitars and bass through different ampsettings and we offer a collection of pedals, amps and cabinets that cover almost every desire in sound. We take detailed advises in settings as well as a rough direction of genres and styles.
# Outboard gear
But why stop with reamping just guitars?! Our outboard gear can be requested as well. Though parts of our equipment are not really high-end there are some devices that are worth a look. A real dbx160 for your kick, snare, bass or voice? Yes please! Or as a secret tip, let our cheap behringer composer 2100 smash your drumroom.
And why not running your voice, synth or even drums through an amp or distortion pedal as well?!?
# What we Need
Again file quality should be as high as possible but fit to your session settings. If your DI guitar or bass is recorded through a crappy DI-Box instead of plugging your guitar-cable right into a line input that's good. If you use an instrument input of your audio interface it's better than a crappy DI-box. If you have a good DI-box it's better than the instrument input.
But in general it's better to have that perfect take recorded no matter how than not.Up