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Studio Set-Up

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Saadiq Recordings, Inc., Mar 12, 2002.

  1. Hi,

    I need some help with the direction of our studio. We recently moved out of a office plaza due to lack of space. And have turned our eye on renting/buying a three (3) room 1200sq upper level condo and converting it into a private state of the art recording studio. The problem is:

    Because, of the condo setting we feel that it may hurt our business. Therefore, how should we adjust our prices to compete with some of the other studios in this area? Also, please note that our gear list is top of the line and so is our staff. We just want to do the best thing for the business and client(s). Please respond with advice, tips, or other needed information. :w: Thank You

    Saadiq Recordings
    (Studio Gear List)

    · 1x Mackie Digital 8-Bus (with effect cards)
    · 1x Mackie HUI (Pro Tools/Performer & Logic Controller Unit)
    · 2x Alesis XT20
    · 2x Alesis HD24 Digital Adats with BRC Remote
    · 2x HHD 850 CR Recorder
    · 1x Tascam DA-30mkII (18 bit Dat Recorder/Player)
    · 1x Tascam DA-45HR (24 bit Dat Recorder/Player)
    · 3x Tascam DA-88 (with sync card & RC-848 Remote)
    · 2x Tascam 122mkII 3 Head Professional Cassette Deck
    · Digidesign Pro Controller with Editing & Fader packs (Pro Tools Mixer Interface)
    · Digidesign Pro Tools/24 Mix3 (with a massive TDM plug-in list)
    · Digidesign Pro Tools Core System
    · Digidesign 2 x Adat Bridge 24 Interface
    · Digidesign 2 x Mix Farm Card
    · Digidesign 2 x 888/24 Interface
    · Digidesign 1 x 1622 Interface
    · Digidesign USD Sync Interface
    · Digidesign (7-slot) PCI Expansion
    · Motu 2408 mkII Core System with one (1) extra 2408 Interface (48 Digital Channels and 16 analog Channels totaling 64 Channels of I/O)
    · 2x Motu Midi Time Piece AV (USD)
    · Motu Digital Timepiece
    · Digital Performer 3.0
    · Emagic Logic Gold (4.5)
    · Lexicon PCM-90
    · Lexicon PCM-81
    · T.C. Electronic Finalizer Plus
    · T.C. Electronics M-2000
    · 2x T.L. Audio Tube EQ's & Compressors
    · 2x Avalon 737sp & 2044
    · 2x Avalon M5
    · 2x Focusrite Red One (1)
    · 2x DBX 1044 & 1088
    · 3x Dynoaudio Acoustics BM15A Mid Field Monitors
    · 2x Dynoaudio Acoustics BM6A Near Field Monitors
    · 4x Mackie HR824 Near Field Monitors
    · 1x Mackie HRS 120 (400-watt active subwoofer)
    · 1x MPC 2000 (studio Plus)
    · AKAI S5000 (sampler)
    · Korg Trinity & Trition (61 key)
    · E-MU Planet Phat, Orbit V3 & Protus 2500
    · Roland 2080, 1080 (with vintage sound cards)
    · Fatar 88 key midi controller
    · 2x AKG Solid Tube Mic
    · Neumann U87 & U89 Mics
  2. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Very nice set up , you have so much digital gear seems to me you could do with a "house wordclock" network .

    Ardsyc II + DA units
    GenX - Lucid DA units
    Nanosyncs + DA units

    Count up all the devices with W/C i/o I bet it is a lot! (32 at my reckoning! :eek:
  3. mixfactory

    mixfactory Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    If this were NYC, I would just say..location,location,location. There are recording studios in every location imaginable(space is premium around here). I know of a couple of smaller studios in condos and apartments. Now would I take Mariah, Madonna, or JLO to one of these places probably not(Britney though would be more tempting for other reasons!). You have to think about your clientele and who your studio is trying to cater to. Since your place sounds like a Digital Haven(like a lot of South Florida studios), than probably the Independent label guy/artist or corporate/voice over stuff where your location(neighborhood) is not as crucial. Also I guess you would want to be near where the businesses are. Normally the out of the way type studios have perks that out way just the technology offered. If you want to reach out to the bands and stuff, then I think ambience is as important as everything else(can they vibe in your place). Right now it is my opinion that there is a saturation of "all digital" studios, especially in South Florida(I worked out of Miami for a while). I know it is a cheaper start up, but there aren't enough differences to seperate one studio from another. So you have this gluttony of Pro Tools rooms everywhere. Also business is different down there than up here, what drives the NYC studio market right now is Rap(even though I do none right now). Its the same a lot up and down the East Coast, so if you think you want to deal with it, than be ready. If you are in a residential situation, your neighbors may not approve of the so called "rap element". I hope this helps some, again its just an opinion.
  4. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Location is key. If you don't think it's right it probably won't be right. Since it's a condo the following comes to my mind...

    What kind of work are you doing? Are the neighbors going to be bugged by noise? Are they going to bug you? Can you get a commerical zoning? If not you'll probably get shut down pretty fast.
  5. Ok, I understand the basic problems with neighbors and noise. (floating control & sound rooms can take care of that simple problem) :D Thanks for the information and tips....keep them coming
  6. mixfactory

    mixfactory Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    I've worked with a lot of those guys too. But they still go to the Big house to mix(especially rap and rnb). They may do the pre-pro at home, but its to the big house to mix. If you want to be a pre-pro house than the competiton is tough. Everyone and their cousins have some kind of Hard disc rig. Stankonia was mixed on an SSL in a studio by the way(I know the singles were). What will seperate your place from everyone elses? If your studio wants to do productions, than that's one thing. Hey I'm not trying to pour rain on your dream, i am just trying to present a dose of reality. I am not trying to say its impossible, nothing is. But you have to understand the market you are trying to compete with. How will you reach all of the other producers in your area? What can you offer me, that I don't have in my home studio already? I want an analog sound somewhere, can you accomodate me? My posse is like 15-20 people, can you handle that? Marijuana and lots of booze, is that a problem with your neighbors? What are your mains like? I want to feel the tracks? What are your mics like? Like I said I've been doing this for 17 years now, and I've seen the whole game. Last year, after many years I opened my own personal mixing facility. I have Major label clients that can easily afford the big house, but I also have some loyal independents, that have budgets that are not as extravagant. So I opened a place where I can take my time on their stuff(most of the time is spent fixing mistakes done in peoles home studios) and I can charge them a little less. Its actually going pretty well. It was a niche in the market here in NYC(believe it or not), that I felt was untouched. A lot of guys can track but not many can mix, and that's what I do for a living. I am actually about to expand an take on maybe 2 more up and coming guys that show talent in this area. Also they can cover the clients and music styles that I don't really do anymore. I produce and mix and my facility serves both well. I have a lot of outboard junk and some analog tape when needed(1/2" machine). I am actually about to purchase an analog console(i miss the sound and for my mixing style i need it). The Digital board I was actually mixing on was great(Soundtracs) but analog is the best way for me.
  7. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Wow! You find fake chest more attractive than world class ass? I guess it takes all kinds! I'll be happy to book the condo for Mariah or J-Lo when you're done with what's her name. Is there an all night rate, or just by the hour? :eek:
  8. I see your point about large groups but, the truth of the matter is most of those guys are'nt too serious about this industry. When a Major gives out a large recording budget it's the artist's manager(s)that keeps the group in tact our job is to track/mix. :( And like wise I still like the sound of analog maybe that why I'm still holding on to my Tascam 16 track 1in tape machine :D . Oh, my point was'nt to say that the SSL Studios were out dated but more along lines of: with a solid tracking rig "we" the (Major Indie) can then spend the time/funds needed on a SSL or Neve to create that phat mix. "STANKONIA" was recorded, mixed and edited using Pro Tools. Then some of the album was re-mixed using the SSL due to label requirement not so much for sound reasons more so for radio singles. Unlike most up-coming artist: to them spending $150.00-$250.00 per hour to mix on the SSL or Neve while keeping in mind that a good mix can last 10-30 hours is simply OUT of the buget. This is where the $60.00-$100.00 per hour Pro Tools Studio with Mixing Engineer comes in to play ;)
  9. planet red

    planet red Active Member

    Jul 25, 2001
    I once 'interned' at a studio that did a lot of hip hop. It was a big place with a lounge area and beer in coke machine. Most of the guys in recording there smoked A LOT of weed, and drank a lot of beer, and had women coming by..... i found several used condoms in the bathroom trashcan. There were always large amounts of people in the control room just hanging out and smoking pot.

    All I know is that in an atmosphere like that I would want a more traditional recording enviroment, in an industrial type area, so when the guys went out completely drunk at 3 in the morning they wouldnt be disturbing anyone. Plus everyone wants to listen to hip hop LOUD with large subs for the vibe.

    The thing that made those LATE night sessions bearable was the fact that there was a lounge and a huge tracking room, which are kind of hard to have if you're in a small condo.

    But in no way do i know what i'm talking about, i think i was only at about 4 of those sessions.
  10. mixfactory

    mixfactory Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Then some of the album was re-mixed using the SSL due to label requirement not so much for sound reasons more so for radio singles.

    It is not as much as a label repuirement, just that its what most mixers work on.

    This is where the $60.00-$100.00 per hour Pro Tools Studio with Mixing Engineer comes in to play

    If you think you can stay in business charging this much, than good luck. Most guys who do hiphop/rap want a banging and bassy sound. That means analog at some point. The clients you are reaching out to, are in the middle. Those are the guys I call "I want a Crystal sound on a Heineken budget". They are the toughest to work with because they are use to a certain sound and if you can't deliver they will let you know it. If you tell them "wait till you hit a bigger place with an SSl board", than you will surely have problems. They don't want to spend the money at the bigger places, but they want all the breaks they can get at the smaller joints. Before I built my place, in 2000 alone I mixed ten albums at these producer hard disc recording places. They would play a DMX CD, Jay Z or DRE and say"I want my mixes to bang like this", I would just smile and say' you know these were cut and mixed on analog" and their jaws would drop. You mean I spent 3/4 of my budget from the record label to hook up a home studio and I still have to hit the big house? I would say yeah, with what you have a whole bunch of plug ins and midi gear ain't gonna cut it. With no money left, they would hire me to bring a whole bunch of outboard gear to mix at their studios. That is part of the reason I don't mix rap anymore. The whole way its done now is crazy. More time is spent fixing tracks than mixing. And you have to deal with 50 people who have nothing to do with the sessions. Its like a performance more than anyhting. Just things for thought.
  11. Great points, and I do agree with most of them. But, what direction would you take? I was over one of my buddies studio today (http://www.rennmusic.com)just talking about this same topic and he told me: "Most of his clients only use his A-Room(SSL) to mix via Pro Tools not Tape". And the best thing that I could do in this business with the market being the way it is due to cheap :p
  12. mixfactory

    mixfactory Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    What i would probably do since you are opening a place from scratch is ditch all of the digital/Pro control type things you have(Mackie and Digidesign) and with the money pick up a used SSL E/G series and a half inch machine. The prices of a used SSL is way down now(you can pick up a nice older one for about $25,000-$30,000). Most "SSL heads" prefer the sound of the older E series to the "J"(and now that the new "K" series is out the prices will continue to drop). For rap you can't beat it(and rock also). Use it as selling point for your clients, you can start the project there and finish it all the way through. Every freelancer in the world just about knows the board. Most guys nowadays do the automation in Pro Tools anyway and use the SSL for its routing and dynamics/EQ's. You can justiy your price and for the "sheep" factor you will have a bigger clientele. A good half inch can be found if you search around. A 2 inch maybe a little out of your range right now(I am talking about a good one, not some japanese toy). But I would plan to add one in the near future.
  13. MadMoose

    MadMoose Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    I don't know, I can name about a half dozen major hip-hop artists that were tracking at the studio I rented space from last year. The mains were always on, usually around 108dB SPL in the control room, lots of pot, beer, people drugs and condoms. Just one big 'ol happy party. I won't name names but you've seen 'em on MTV. That's why I moved out of the space I had. Drugs are part of the music business. You're gonna have to accept that and it might be a problem for the neighbors if you're in a condo.
  14. This is all true, and I've seen this type of activity within studios more times than not! I guess what it all boils down to is: I'm not depending on the total income from studio session to make a living and the selective client(s) process works well with me. It adds security and builds good personal working relationship within this music industry. Damn, lets leave some headache clients out there for other up-coming engineers/producer. In the last 16yrs I've had my share of problems. But, I've also worked on numerous private project where the noise and activity outside of the control room was not a factor and the artist conducted themselves with class. (Britney, Backstreet Boys, LFO, 69 boys, Outkast, Mz Thang, Trickdaddy) :D just to NAME a few.
  15. damster

    damster Active Member

    Jan 17, 2002
    Hey Demone,

    You wrote: This is all true, and I've seen this type of activity within studios more times than not! I guess what it all boils down to is: I'm not depending on the total income from studio session to make a living and the selective client(s) process works well with me. It adds security and builds good personal working relationship within this music industry.

    Does this mean you would prefer to not have the drugs around your gear and sessions?

    My facility is completely smoke free and it can be tough sometimes to hold my position on that.I would like to think of myself as someone who wants to hit the bigtime and often wonder what is happening in the bigtime studios.......are there 'certain clients' smoking the $*^t out of SSL 9000j's or the new hybrid Neve's(88R?)with deadbeat hanger's on filling the room with a stench of apathy? Is the village or Sound on Sound
    or Right Track a glorified smoking parlour for certain 'big buck' clients who just happen to be recording? If so,what kind of damage/maintenence programs are required.What kind of long term damage to gear are we looking at? My gear loves me since I switched to non smoking and nicotine no longer needs to be hard scrubbed off my computer monitor. :D
  16. mixfactory

    mixfactory Active Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    "are there 'certain clients' smoking the $*^t out of SSL 9000j's or the
    new hybrid Neve's(88R?)with deadbeat hanger's on filling the room with a
    stench of apathy?"

    The answer here in the city is yes. Rap is the biggest business for all of the major studios. So if a major client wants to smoke in the vocal booth or the control room, than he gets to smoke. I've seen many a fight in studios start because of this. The biggest one recently was at Sony Studios, a certain famous rap artist was visibly upset because they were trying to funnel his people, to a smoking area in the basement. There claim was that a famous old style singer was on the same floor and she had problems with cigarrette smoke."F*ck Her!! Is what I heard. He wasn't to happy with the thought, and he threatened to take his business elsewhere. Also I heard guys saying that they would trash the place too. Sony gave in, and there they were lighting up everywhere. She and her producer left, and that was that. I personally don't do rap anymore, and when I did I let whoever hired me know that I was allergic to smoke and if anybody smoked around me(control room especially) I was out. They always gave in, and kept their people in check. So if you think you can handle it, than more power to you!!
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