Our Frequently Asked Questions
Below we try to answer in some more detail regarding the process of making a radio-ready song or music. These questions are often asked to us and we hope it will bring some help to your musical projects.
We use a carefully designed Hybrid Studio setup that incorporates the best in class of both the digital and analogue world:
- Mac System with thunderbolt SSD and Hard Drive connectivity
- Pro Tools HD 12 DAW
- Logic X DAW
- Avid DA/AD HD Interfaces
- Apogee Symphony DA/AD Interface
- Crane Song Avocet Monitoring Chain
- Neumann 3 Way Main Mixing Monitors
- UAD DSP Plugins
- Waves Plugins
- Soundtoys Plugins
- Brainworx Plugins
- Native Instruments Plugins
- Native Instruments Virtual Synths and Keys
- Superior Drummer 2 and 3
- Steven Slate Plugins
- Steven Slate Drummer
- 24 SSL Analogue Summing Channels
- SSL G Bus Compressor
- SSL Dynamics and Eq’s (G and E Series)
- UAD 1176 Limiting Compressor
- Empirical Labs EL8-X Distressor Compressor
- API 550b Eq’s
- API 512c Preamps
- Neve 1073 Preamps
- UAD Preamps
- SSL VHD enabled Preamps
- Lexicon PCM Outboard Reverb Unit
- Radial JD7 re-amp unit
- Original 80’s Marchall JCM 800
- VOX AC30
- Marshall SL5
- Marshall Silver Jubilee
- Ashdown Bass Amp
- BOX OF DOOM isolated speaker system with Celestion Vintage 16 Ohm
- Neumann, Royer, Shure, AKG, Electro-Voice, Rode Dynamic, Condenser, Ribbon and Tube Microphones
- Bespoke high-quality custom cabling
- Full Pedalboard of guitar and bass selection
If you are a band, a singer, making eltronic dance music etc either record where possible in 44.1KHz or 48.0KHz, 24 Bit WAV. If you intend to make CD's with your music or MP3's the songs will be compressed back to a maximum of 48.0KHz, 16 Bit anyway so recording in faster clock speeds doesn't help your final product so much.
If you are recording for film or Television then 48.0KHz, 24 Bit WAV is the industry standard
If you are recording an orchestra then there maybe reason to record in higher clock speeds...certainly up to 96.0KHz, 24 Bit to provide further detail with a very large and diverse multi-instrument track recorded with fewer microphones.
We can accomodate all file formats but rememeber the higher the KHz the larger the files and longer and more costly to transfer and process.
Tracking is the first process in producing music. This is where you and/or your band actually record the instruments and vocals. Each instrument can be recorded one at a time or all together as a band, choir or orchestra in a studio or live situation at a concert. This phase is critical in you trying to get as close to the tones and feel of your instruments and vocals, choosing the room and space that will give particular ambience and the equipment you want to capture your sounds through. For example, just as different makes and models of guitars and amps have their own sound, different microphones can have very different results to a sound as do different makes of preamplifiers and any other outboard gear such as compressors and EQ’s whilst tracking. If you can afford to track in a professional studio your producer or the recording engineer will be able to help you make these choices and advise on what you should expect from a particular recording chain of equipment. If you cannot afford to record at a professional studio then try to ensure wherever possible you get a clean recording. The tracks should be well recorded but not too loud. If you are tracking directly into a Digital Audio Interface then there is normally no need to be above -20DB for kick and bass to -10DB for vocals etc to allow plenty of headroom for the mixing process that comes next.
Music mixing combines and balances all of the individual mono and stereo tracks that were recorded for the music or song. Before digital recording, there were usually restrictions on how many tracks were available for recording due to the capacity of tape but now in the digital era, it is not uncommon for the modern pop song to have in excess of 100 tracks of different instruments and sounds and vocals. It is the mixing engineers' role to take however many tracks there are and blend each one of them into a coherent single stereo file. The engineer must understand the relationship of each instrument to each other as many of them compete at the same frequencies in the audio spectrum. For example, the mid-range of an electric guitar will be directly competing with the lead vocalist. So the engineer has to know how to operate these frequencies and place them in the stereo field to ensure as listeners we can hear all the instruments without them becoming one big mushy or muddy mess that will be unpleasant to listen to. But the mixing process goes much further than just balancing and EQ’s. Compression types and techniques are required, delays and reverbs to create space and life into the spectrum, tuning and doubling of vocals where required, removing noise such as rumbles from mic stands, breathing between singing takes, amp hissing between playing, string squeaks, vocal sibilance etc, re-amping instruments and a lot of an engineers time will be spent with editing the tracks i.e perhaps moving individual notes of say, bass guitar to line up with the kick drum or ensuring the drums are in time all the way through the song if required. They will make decisions and have a discussion with both artists and producers about cutting or adding sounds to a track or moving some sections around. So the engineer has to be also a type of producer and musician themselves to be able to get the music space to breath and to create the correct excitement or melancholy to the song to fully capture what the artists intended. Once the artist and producer are happy with this balanced mix then it goes to its final phase, music mastering.
Originally the mastering engineer was the person who cut the master disc to print the vinyl records. They had to cut the grooves with a lathe and therefore get the correct balance of bass and high frequencies in this process so the needle of the record player would stay in the groove and read be able to relay these signals back into music. Although vinyl is still cut these days it is much rarer (and very expensive!), so the mastering engineer is mainly dealing with the digital and compact disc domain. However, their skills are much the same for this medium and it is their job to ‘finish’ the stereo track of the mix. They will add some sheen and tame or add any low-end punch required. They also balance all the songs on an album too. An album’s songs may have been mixed by different engineers and the finished tracks may be of different levels. Remember the mixing engineer is not trying to make the mix loud…they are trying to balance it. They will leave ‘headroom’ or an element of volume for the mastering engineer to master the song. If the mastering engineer needs to add any EQ to finish the song then this adds volume to overall level. So the mixing engineer must leave some space for this to be able to happen. So the mastering engineer has to ensure when we listen to an album one song isn’t louder or quieter than the next one. They also apply the correct gaps between each song and also write code for digital downloads and CD printing. They use very specific equipment and in specifically designed studios that are not like recording and mixing studios. They are mainly dealing with one stereo track rather than tens of individual ones. When talking to them they often have a very different approach to hearing the song to a mixing engineer. They really are listening to frequency and how it will sound on all different types of speakers and headphones…not like the mixing engineer who as well as listing to frequency is maybe obsessing with what a particular guitar is doing! The mastering engineer isn’t bothered about that…only the overall level and coherence of the frequencies to make it shine and punch. Mastering is an art form all on its own and although possible (and not wishing to insult the rare few who have the magic ears and approach of both skills), I would be hesitant about working with an outfit that claims to be able to mix and master your work as unless they have different engineers and rooms with specific equipment it is unlikely you will get as good a result as dealing directly with a dedicated mastering engineer.
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To discuss your project requirements further, get in touch with us today.
We offer a FREE no-obligation quote over the phone, alternatively fill out our form below to request a quote. We will aim to respond within an hour during studio opening times.
- 07516 865134
- 50 The Green,
- Donington le Heath,
- LE67 2GE