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Choosing A Studio

Member for

19 years 9 months
My band will be recording our first full-length this winter. We're currently demoing the initial batch of songs to choose from in my home studio, but want to take the project to a nicer facility to track and mix for the final product.

My initial approach was to listen to some albums that have a similar sound to what I am looking for and find out where they were recorded. That information hasn't been as ready available as what I had hoped, and the easy ones are usually somewhere like Abbey Road. We ain't flyin' 'cross the pond. In fact, we'd like to stay as close to the southeastern US as possible.

Our budget will be modest, but hopefully adequate ($3000 - $4000).

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Comments

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Mon, 10/09/2006 - 09:21
Just to second Reggies warning...

If you get a better sound with your drummer playing to a click, then fine.

A drummer and band who play well live should lay as many instruments down simultaneously as possible. If you record initial live takes in a decent studio you might be able to keep a lot of the parts - saving hassle/cash and getting a better "swing" etc. Works for every band we track.

It depends on the material and the drummer of course, I had a band in recently where the drummer played to a backing of samples (from Reason, but tracked to analog tape) - he'd done it live at gigs many times before. The guitars went down simultaneously, if they worked they'd be kept, if not, still good as scratches to make sure drums had good tuning & timing etc. In the end they didn't have to re-track anything, couple of takes and they were on to vocals and extras.

As a general rule, make sure the finished live drums sound/feel right first, against scratches of other instruments, then get your killer gtr sounds up. You don't want to track lots of stuff and then go, "Hang on, this seems like it's the wrong speed with live drums on it now!". I suppose you're demo'ing the stuff so that gives you something to go on.

You may have experience of this type of risk already, just thought I'd mention it because I've had a couple of awful experiences with tempo in the past! Good luck.

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Wed, 11/01/2006 - 14:31
My band just started recording 2 songs on our own and so far so good. We figured that we would spend about $400-$500 on 2 songs in a studio and decided to use that money and purchase missing pieces we needed to track on our own. We have recorded 2 times before in different studios, and for the price we figured why not try it ourselves. Keep in mind that I already had a G5 mac with Logic 7 and Reason 3--so that helps. But we only spend $410 and picked up what remaining gear we needed to get started. And we are recording 6 drum mics at once on 6 separate channels.

I would recomend this to bands who want unlimited studio time to record and write. It can be really fun, and it can help you develop your music and if you aren't satisfied you simple try again. Anyways, if you want a gear list or anything let me know and I will put a link up when we are finished.

Tony

Member for

16 years 10 months

TeddyG Wed, 11/01/2006 - 21:48
$5000. Say it with me now -- slowly...

FIVE -- THOUSAND -- DOLLARS...

What shall I buy?

A "mid-grade" set of wheels and tires for a "mid-grade" Porsche? A "cheap" recording console(Maybe an "s", instead of an SSL?).? A "short week" in the Bahamas for two? Sounds, to me, like a veritable fortune, though it "might" get me a new roof for my half a double, house? I know it WOULD NOT get me the single channel mic preamp I want + the mic..... Crap.


If it was me......

Well, first, if it was me I'd call-up any of several friends and tell them what I wanted to spend and ask them what I could do for it and they'd tell me(Maybe the only advantage to being in and around the biz for 30+ years?). For sure, I'd get what I wanted for 5 G's... Nice, too. May have to work "off-times", clear the room for "real customers", hitch hike to the studio, etc., may take weeks or months... or years, but I'd get it done for the 5 G's.

YOU could do the same and you really don't have to know anyone at all. Call around, tell each studio you have 5000 dollars to spend on a "completed" album -- How much? NO! Ask them "How will we do this?" Let them talk for awhile. If you can hold the line and they can turn down 5 grand, they're W-A-Y out of your league anyway... Move on to the next studio on the list.

OR.

Pick a studio, however you want to pick a studio(Best selection of drinks in the fridge!). Go in and record 5 songs - FINISH "the best" 3 songs - you'll have fun picking! Master/cover art/press CD's/put 'em on your website. You now have a NICE 3 song demo, which you can shop around or sell for a "3 song album" price! Better yet, give 'em away to your fans and be glad you have some. It's an investment, it's something you want to do, it's fun, it cannot be a "major label deal"(Not if the budget was 50 grand, sorry.)... If it helps get you get a record contract? Maybe that would be nice - and that, my musical friend, is a BIG "maybe"...

Go to a nice studio, enjoy the experience, make everything "nice". Save lots of CD's for your grandchildren(They'll think it's "really weird". They won't be able to play it, but hey?)...


TG

If you like, tell 'em you want to do it for 3 grand..... Settle on 4 and spend the other grand on a set of really "wonderful" speaker cables for the home stereo.....? At least one for the right channel? Or at least a couple of super-duper connectors?(Have a drawing to see which band member gets them/it.). Sad how far a $1000 doesn't go these days.

John Mayer(Meyer?) has a "3 song album" to listen to(I'm just guessing they're from his new album? Didn't say?), for free, on his website! He has a video, though(More money -- bet those 3 songs, alone, cost more than 5 G's to make!?!? Shouldn't have...). Truth to tell? I didn't need any more than the first few bars of John's work to not sell me..... Too political(Yawn.). For my money, the second song was a waste of roof money.

Member for

19 years 9 months

CircuitRider Mon, 11/06/2006 - 13:30
Hey, Remy. I'm getting a slow start at this, but I'm going to run through a couple of demo versions first. I got an old dbx 166 and an AT4033, so the vocals should at least be a bit more detailed. I'm also using a Digimax for preamps as opposed to the FW-1884 preamps. I have yet to get to trying out different configurations for recording the drums, but I'm a little more confident that I'll be able to get some decent results. Any last minute tips? This 166 seems a little noisy, but I like the sound better than the software compressors I'm used to.

Member for

19 years 9 months

CircuitRider Thu, 02/22/2007 - 08:31
Just an update -

After rehearsing for the past few months and experimenting within my limits, we decided to find a decent facility away from home (and away from cellphones and girlfriends and dayjobs, etc.). So we shove off for Boston tonight to spend a week in a studio where we can cut everything live and come back to overdub the extras. I may transfer the entire project home afterward, depending on how much we get accomplished.

At any rate, as much as I love recording, I'm very excited to have someone else running the session. Pushing the faders and playing the songs all while keeping the band on track is exausting.

Soooo, wish us luck!

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Wed, 02/28/2007 - 11:42
OK, the absolute cheapest way to record (I should not be telling you this as a studio owner, but hey, I'm in Scotland so I figure it's OK) is like this

1. Practice those songs until you are 100% perfect.

2. Pick a good tracking studio (that is not in the middle of a city where you have to pay for the location) with good kit, no cheap mics and budget desks but good stuff and of course everything that you need by way of instruments and backline. I STRONGLY recommend you look for a studio with Radar-24 for tracking as this will give you the quality and the speed (cut down costs) you are looking for.

3. Track drums and bass first and then do the rest with two goes at vocals on different days.

4. Take the project with you as a series of WAV files on DVD-R.

5. Get the whole thing edited in ProTools or similar by someone cheap and good using their own home stuff. There is no need for a studio for editing.

6. Go to a local studio with good monitors and desk and spend two days mixing.

7. Get it mastered by someone who is good and yet prepared to do it for a set price. Here look out for B&W speakers and a treated room, not some kid in an attic.

Tracking should cost $3,000, editing maybe $1,000 and mastering about the same max.

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Wed, 02/28/2007 - 11:47
OK, the absolute cheapest way to record (I should not be telling you this as a studio owner, but hey, I'm in Scotland so I figure it's OK) is like this

1. Practice those songs until you are 100% perfect.

2. Pick a good tracking studio (that is not in the middle of a city where you have to pay for the location) with good kit, no cheap mics and budget desks but good stuff and of course everything that you need by way of instruments and backline. I STRONGLY recommend you look for a studio with Radar-24 for tracking as this will give you the quality and the speed (cut down costs) you are looking for.

3. Track drums and bass first and then do the rest with two goes at vocals on different days.

4. Take the project with you as a series of WAV files on DVD-R.

5. Get the whole thing edited in ProTools or similar by someone cheap and good using their own home stuff. There is no need for a studio for editing.

6. Go to a local studio with good monitors and desk and spend two days mixing.

7. Get it mastered by someone who is good and yet prepared to do it for a set price. Here look out for B&W speakers and a treated room, not some kid in an attic.

Tracking should cost $3,000, editing maybe $1,000 and mixing and mastering about the same max.

The most expensive way to make a CD is to buy a big pile of gear and then try to work out how to use it. That way you get to pay for the gear and for the studio as well!

Member for

17 years 8 months

Cucco Wed, 02/28/2007 - 18:06
A couple thoughts here.

1 - a budget of $4,000 should suffice. This isn't LA or New York or Cashville we're talking about. In SC, NC, VA, GA, FL, you can get some nice studios for $125 an hour. If you're well rehearsed and good to go, 2 days of solid work and 1 day of editing/mixing should be fine. That would leave you a grand for mastering.

2 - I agree with Remy that even with your modest gear, you should be able to get great results that even a decent studio should be able to work with. Often, mixing is less than tracking (especially in this part of the country).

A lot of good artists out there are rolling their own albums. There's nothing wrong with this. However, it's important for you to be present during mixing or at least work with someone whom you trust.

One question -

Have you been relatively pleased with the results you've gotten by yourself thus far and what would you like to change about your results as of yet?

Member for

19 years 9 months

CircuitRider Tue, 03/06/2007 - 09:01
Boston was great. We knocked out all of the tracking and still had time for some experimenting. I would highly recommend the studio and engineer that we used. I won't spam this board, but if you're looking in the Boston area, contact me and I'll give you the info.

So now we're looking toward mastering. As soon as we raise some more scratch, we'll knock the whole thing out. Anyone have any suggestions for duplication? I've always used Diskmakers for the commercial stuff and Diskfaktory or RL Labs for demo-level. This needs to be super high quality packaging, etc.

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Fri, 03/09/2007 - 08:52
$3000 to $4000 dollars can get you into a very nice studio where i live. you can get a pro sounding cd for that amount of money. it wont be as good as songs on the radio, but it will be very close. as far as mastering, you dont need to spend $1500 on it. like he said thats for real mastering and youre going to pay for it. there are many other people who will do it for way less. its still going to be around $800-1000 i think for decent stuff. just look around and ask for samples from the various places before you decide.

however if youre looking into abbey road, disregard all of what i said. theres no way youre going to have enough. BUT, you can get a very very nice sounding cd for what you have if you look around a lot find out where bands you liked the tones from recorded and just keep looking for samples, until you find a place that works.
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