Frequently asked questions

Can you record live drums?

Yes we frequently record live drums here in our studio. We have an array of vintage and new age microphones, the best on the market for each part of the drum kit whether it is snare, kick, toms, cymbals or the kit as a whole. We also have drum ‘triggers’ and drum triggering software like Drumagog and Trigger that allow use to drop samples over the top of recorded drums to improve the drum sound even further. We have all kinds of specialized acoustic drum modelling material and drum tunnels as well as headphones that are specifically designed for maximum isolation so the drummer doesn’t impair their hearing and so the music from the headphones doesn’t bleed into the surrounding microphones. This all makes for a clean and punchy recording. Some of our preamps were specifically attained for the recording of drum kits. The API 3124 preamplifiers are undisputed as the best in the world for recording drums and we have all the channels that we need to get the most pristine sound possible.

If your drummer is inexperienced and doesn’t keep perfect time then the timing of the drums may need fixing – not a problem. We have all kinds of software that can make those drums sound as though they were played by the tightest drummer in the world. Alternatively, it might only be a small fix that you want. That’s not problem at all. The technology that is available today is such that we can fix absolutely anything that we need to. Nothing is impossible in audio anymore.

Also, if you want the sound of the acoustic space changed that’s easy to do also. We have the best acoustic modelling software available. So after the drums are recorded we can make them sound like they were recorded anywhere you want – inside, outside, church, studio, bedroom, all different kinds of acoustic studio spaces. This is ability to manipulate the acoustic space is all at our fingertips. We make sure that we are on top of the latest sound sculpting technology so we can provide this service to our valued clients.

We even have drums available for tracking if you don’t have any yourself. And if you can’t find a session drummer then that’s ok too. James Englund has been playing drums on client albums for years and is more than happy to play on your recording.

Can you record full bands?

Absolutely. We often record full bands. We have a few different spaces where we can do this and all of which have different acoustic properties and degrees of isolation. Make sure you let us know prior to recording day what your line up will be so we can organise these details before you arrive.

We are even happy to take some of our recording equipment to you if you have a particular space that you really like the sound of and want to capture on your album there. This is common in the recording world today. Different acoustic spaces can really make a record sound interesting and we enjoy recording different spaces.

Why do I need a producer?

Primarily the producer’s role is to serve the artist, try and encourage the best performance out of them and to serve their musical aspirations in any way they can. Every producer has a different skill set and approach and can bring something unique to the table. In saying that, every producer is not necessarily right for every artist. Both the artist and the producer need to be able to work well together, communicate effectively and trust each other so it’s really important to take some time to get to know your producer is like. Especially in so far as his or her musical tasters are similar enough that they will understand your musical vision and be able to help you bring it to fruition.

You may think of the different producing styles like the points of an equilateral triangle. At one point of the triangle there’s the type of producer who is in touch with the feeling and direction of the artist and has their finger culturally on the pulse; for example the famous LA producer, Rick Ruben, who has produced many of histories’ biggest selling albums. At another corner there’s the musician/producer. This is someone who is talented at being a musical director and may play several instruments and can really help shape the record’s musical direction and fill in any the musical gaps. The famous Quincy Jones is a good example of someone like this. Lastly, there’s the technology savvy producer who seems to have full command over all the equipment and latest technology. This might be someone like Brian Eno or George Massenburg. The reality is that no producer really sits at any one extremity on this imaginary triangle. They tend to have a combination of  these attributes and it’s the combination that makes them unique.

Having a producer can be important as recording your material is often much easier when you have someone to guide you. You can bounce ideas off them and effectively create as a team. A great producer will be able to get the best out you and the best for the record. They can be the bridge between the music and the technology, the art and the music business. Choosing a good producer can really be make or break a record and it is important to do serious research before embarking on an expensive musical project. Book in some time to meet our producers and get to know them. Have a listen to what they have done prior to meeting you. If you’ve already found the right producer for you, great! Bring them into the studio. We’d love to work with them!

Do you have parking facilities on site?

There are always spaces available right outside the studio. This makes unloading expensive equipment into the studio an absolute breeze. This is really good because sometimes carrying gear for miles before you even get to the gig can be a real energy drainer leaving you flat when it comes time to actually throwing the emotion into the music.

Is there public transport available to get to the studio?

Yes. The 263 bus stops at the bus stop right opposite the studio. You can catch this bus from Neutral Bay Junction or from Wynard train station in the city.

The studio is only 5 minutes walk from Milsons Point train station. This station is located right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

North Sydney train station, which is the next stop on the northern line, is only 8 minutes drive from the studio.

Military Rd is the main road that runs through Neutral Bay and it is the major traffic artery to the northern beaches in Sydney. Ben Boyd Rd (where the studio is located) runs perpendicular to Military road. On the corner of Military Rd and Ben Boyd Rd you will see the famous Oaks Hotel. When you see the Oaks make sure you walk towards the city and down Ben Boyd Rd. We are on the right hand side, just down from Premier St.

For clients who are coming from the city or the eastern suburbs make sure you take the Mosman and Manly exit off the freeway that comes off the harbour tunnel and Sydney Harbour bridge. This will exit onto Military Rd. If you miss this exit if can make life difficult and you may find yourself shooting up towards Chatswood trying to find a place to do a U-turn. So make sure you take the right exit.

Hope to see you soon and give us a call if you get lost. We’ll guide you in.

Do I require session musicians?

Nope. Not to record with us. There are lots of options available to you. However, if you do want your own session musicians or you want us to find you specific session musicians who specialise in certain instruments we can easily do that for you.

The engineers that work in the studio are all very talented musicians and their talents come with our service. Just let us know what you’re after and we can organise the job right away. Some instruments are software based and require programming. We are highly familiar with these programs as we use them everyday. That can be anything from programming drum beats, string sections, orchestras, pianos, guitar parts… you name it. We have all the technology that is available in exquisite quality sampled instrumentation. It is incredible how beautiful and real these samples sound. This now means that the sound of expensive orchestras and unattainable instrumentation is at our fingertips and your musical dreams really can come true.

What is the difference between a producer and an engineer?

In the studio environment the engineer has the technical responsibilities. In a tracking or recording session the engineer is responsible for making sure that all the right levels are being recorded and that the microphones are positioned in the best locations, that the compression levels are correct, and that the takes are being recorded properly and then organised. He will be maintaining the equipment and will ultimately be responsible for the technical aspects for recording process.

The producers will be focused on the musicians, the artists and the project as a whole. The producer will often also be keeping watch on the audio recording making sure that the sound that he has envisioned is being captured appropriately by the engineer. The producer will usually be the musical director and will ultimately be directing the whole recording session.

It is often the case that these roles are blurred in the modern recording studio as one person takes on multiple responsibilities. This may because of a limited budget or because that particular person feels that the situation calls for this overlapping of roles.

What is a musical director?

The term ‘musical director’ applies to many different areas of operation in the world of music. This person may be the head of an orchestra or concert band, the leader of a military band, the director of music at a school, or even the person responsible for the music of a film or radio broadcast. In the studio world, it is not that different. The musical director in a studio is the person who is responsible for the musical activities throughout the studio session. They communicate with the musicians, often compose and arrange the scores for playing in the studio session and are solely responsible for the musical output. Often the producer will double as a musical director in a recording session. In a rock band format this may be the person who is leading the musical direction and decision making in the band.

Do you have instruments available for hire?

Yes. We have a huge array of musical instruments for hire including everything from guitars to pianos, amps and percussion, even a harpsichord! Some of the instrument are inexpensive and we are happy to just lend then to recording sessions. Other instruments are extremely rare and expensive so we need to hire these out and supervise their use to make sure that they aren’t damaged. If you require any of our instrumentation or you need use to source a specific instrument and or player for your record we can do that. In fact, this is a big part of the recording process. Sourcing interesting musical instrumentation can take a recording to the next level. We encourage you to experiment with this where possible.

Can I use my own producer?

Absolutely. We are happy to simply provide recording engineer services while you or your producer direct the sessions. It is often the case that people want to use our studio for our vocal recording equipment or analogue outboard gear and don’t need any musical or production assistance. That is totally fine with us. We can even work with your producer and show them how the gear works if they want to get some hands-on work on their project. Just let us know prior to the session and we’ll make sure we can accommodate the needs of both you and your producer.

We also offer a great remote tracking and mixing service. This is where people from other locations (most often other countries) can digitally tune in to a recording session via Skype or Nicecast and can hear the session unfolding in real-time. They can communicate to our engineers and even to the artists while they are laying takes down. In the vocal booth we have a LCD screen with a camera so the recording session can be fully interactive between the singer and their coach or producer overseas.

We will work tirelessly to make sure that your producer feels like he’s worked in our studio for years.

What are the studio opening hours?

To be honest, the studio is open and operating around the clock 24-7. There’s never a time when there’s nothing happening. Whether it’s composing for a film score late at night or recording a voice over during the working day we are always on the go. If bands or artist want to do extremely long sessions we can organise shifts for engineers to take the work load off and make sure that the people operating the equipment are always extremely sharp. In saying that, our engineers love their work and are hard to convince to take a break.

Often musicians can have day jobs that keep them locked down during the weekdays. For this reason we make sure that we are available on weekends and late at night so they can have their opportunity to recording the album they spend their day jobs dreaming about.

Let us know your time preference and we’ll make sure we get you booked in.

What is "vocal pitch correction"?

Pitch correction is the process of altering the pitch of a musical note. This may involve flatten the note (lowering the pitch) or sharpening the note (raising the pitch).

There are a few misconceptions about modern pitch correction. Firstly, what is the correct note? This is a highly contextual and subjective notion and varies greatly from piece to piece. Ultimately, the correct note is what the artist desires to hear from their music. Often deliberately singing ‘off key’ can give a piece immense emotion in certain sections, whilst in other sections out of tune notes can destroy the piece.

Secondly, artists fear the use of pitch correction because they feel that is going to make them sound like Cher or another pop sensation with extreme auto tune. This is definitely not the case. There are loads of different types of pitch correction software that all do different things extremely well. For example, a program that we love called Melodyne well allow us to go and target and specific note or work and surgically alter that note to what we feel is most appropriate for the music. It really is amazing. We can then leave all the other notes untouched. This program also allows us to stretch or compress individual notes into time thereby making the whole piece much more tight and coherent. This program is in stark contrast to auto tune. This program is really a shotgun approach to fix pitch. Auto Tune will act on all the pitches that it sees on a track and you can set the program to shift notes into the a specifically diatonic or world key. Of course, the program is much more sophisticated that this but you can see how these two very different pieces of software occupy opposite ends of the pitch correction spectrum. One end being a more macroscopic fix whilst the other is more surgical and microscopic in function.

Thirdly, people think that producers only use pitch correct on voice. This is not true at all. Pitch correction is really powerful tool for enhancing the quality of the audio and can be used on strings, guitar, drums… pretty much anything that needs seriously details alteration.

Lastly, we often find first time artist concerned that people will hear pitch correction on their musical projects. The reality is that now the software is so pristinely transparent that a well process piece of audio will sound like nothing has happened to it. Don’t be mistake!! This takes a really good ear, knowledge of the software, and taste but it is something that we have been doing for over ten years and we have grown with the technology and mastered the art of using the software in the most subtle and taste manner possible. Pitch correction software, despite its industry stigmatisation, has become an invaluable studio tool and paint brush that we are proud to offer to our clients.

How much will it cost to record an album?

This is obviously the most important question for anyone who is looking to record. When it comes to recording an album there are a lot of variables that need to be taken into account for budgeting can begin. Questions like: how many songs do I want? What kind of instrumentation will be on my album? How will I record the album? When do I need to have the album done by? Do you want us to mix and/or master the album for you or will you be sending it elsewhere for those process? Will you need freelance session musicians? Do you need the artwork done by us or elsewhere?

As you can see there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we can give you a realistic cost of a record. Albums can vary in cost from the artist walking into the studio and laying down twelve songs with an acoustic guitar and voice to the extreme of having fifteen tracks all fully produced with full band and orchestra. Some albums are done by artists who choose not to be too picky about the productions and other artists want everything to be as close to perfect as the modern recording world will allow. We have, and will continue, to accommodate both ends of the spectrum and everyone in between.

As you can see, though, it’s important to get in contact with us and let us know exactly what you’re hoping to achieve so we can give you a realistic quote. Feel free to dream big or just lay it down. It’s all up to you!

What is ‘YouTube ready?

One of the challenges facing up and coming artists today is quickly and effectively establishing a professional presence on the World Wide Web. As record companies budgets for artist promotion continue to shrink, artists are turning to self promotion as a means to market themselves and create income from album sales, downloads and publishing.

YouTube and Vimeo have been quintessential tools embraced by artists in order to facilitate this marketing and self promotion. Up until now the problem has been that once an artist decides to make a you tube self-promotional video the must first record their audio and then go through the process of recording separate video and attempting to synch the two recordings. The results often appear clunky and amateurish at best.

The artist is also often faced with two sets of fees. One for the Audio recording and one for the video recording. Much valuable time, money and energy can be wasted by the artist in this way.

To solve these issues once and for all, Crash Symphony Productions provide a “YouTube Ready” service to artists where you can create a stellar YouTube Music Video with sublime hi-fidelity, album quality audio and literally have it up on the net the same day.

We record your music and video* at the same time* thereby eliminating synch issues and saving you time, money and hassles and providing you with the opportunity to have your video uploaded to your Vimeo & YouTube channels right away. We can even set up a channel and upload your music on your behalf.

Be “YouTube Ready” INSTANTLY!

Can others attend my recording session?

You are welcome to bring other to your recording sessions. However, there are a few things we would like to point out…. mostly for your benefit. Firstly, we find that when there are a lot of friends in the recording studio it distracts the artist from paying attention to their work and they ultimately end up getting dragged into friendly, but non-relevant, conversations with the people that they have brought into the studio. This costs the project valuable time and in a recording studio time is money. Secondly, because recording studios are all about sound, any sound that is not part of the project will ultimately become a distraction. People talking and phones ringing make it really hard for engineers, musicians and producers to do their work. If it was graphic design it would be a different story… maybe. But in a recording studio unwanted noise ultimately ends up making work harder. In saying that, if you wish to have people in the studio we are happy to make them feel welcome. Thirdly, and finally, when lots equipment is set up and leads are running everywhere it can be a very crowded environment. Having too many people in the studio can reduce the working space, particularly during band recordings. So if you are going to bring along your friends to watch the session unfold it might be best for the efficiency of your project to have them drop in for a short visit.

Please let us stress to you that we are always happy for you to have other people come to the studio but we feel that it is our responsibility to let you know the potential costs. We have learned this from years of experience.

Can I photograph or film my recording session?

You are more than welcome to film or take pictures in our recording studio. We are always happy for people to take happy snaps and footage of their sessions. We’re happy to sign a release if required also.

We also have a range of video cameras and high definition cameras to take photos or video of recording sessions. If you want this service then give us a call prior to the recording session so we can make sure that the equipment is available for your session.

Can I bring my own backing tracks?

Please do! That’s about as easy as it gets for us. All we need to do is import your audio file into our system and we can have the mic ready to go when you get to the studio.

Once you have recorded your vocal or instrument to the backing track we can either mix them together as a single file or give you back the backing track and the instrument/vocal separately for mixing at a later date. We prefer files to be wav. files or Aiff files but we can also convert mp3’s and m4v files for overdubbing. There is also a lot of software available for the conversion of different files so that they are suitable for overdubbing.

Furthermore, if you email us the files prior to the session we can everything set up and ready for you when you arrive. Just make sure to explain clearly how you want the session to be set up prior to your arrival.

Can you assist with album artwork?

Yes we can! We have all the software available and dimensions required for the CD pressing companies. We have found that artists usually become highly stressed when they have to search for so many different people to bring their album to complete so we’ve decided to take that stress away and offer our help. We can either do the artwork for you or organise a graphic artist to assist on your project. The artwork is usually the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to an album or an ep. It’s important, that having come so far in the recording process, you don’t find yourself burn out by the time you get to the final stage. Let us help you with this stage and make sure you get the best album cover on the market!

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