Author Archives: James

18 Feb

Guitar Pickups

The importance of guitar pickups

Pickups are all about character and style. The pickups in your guitar are what amplifies the sound and picks up the vibrations from your guitar strings. Yet they are much more than that. They emit ideas of an era, an intensity and a different collection of sounds. Brian May spent a fortune on his pickups and had many different switches for different parts of the songs in the band Queen. They’re definitely as important as the type of wood your instrument is constructed from, your amplifier, and your gauge of strings. It is important when buying a guitar or entering a Sydney Recording Studio to give a lot of consideration to this area of the sound.

Naturally pickups exist in different sizes and shapes. They also aim towards different musical goals. For example, you’re not going to use the same one to play rockabilly that you use to play old rock or Heavy Metal. If you don’t choose the right pickups for what you want to perform, you’ll find it hard to get the tone you are searching for.

Below is a basic introduction to the different types of pickups available. Its not exhaustive but it will certainly get you started. This blog doesn’t go deep into the science or construction but it will give you an important overview. Then you can begin to understand what pickups are right for you when you are recording in a Sydney Sound Studio.

The basic construction of a Pickup?

Basically a pickup is a magnet with wire wrapped around it that transforms the vibration of your strings into an electronic signal or waves. This can be applied either on an electric instrument or on any acoustic instrument also.

Electric Guitar/bass Pickups

There are basically three main categories of electric pickups:  humbucker, single coil, and P90.

Single Coil


Single coil pickups use a single magnet. The Fender Strat is a great example of these kinds of pickups. Single coil pickups have a huge range of tones and styles and are used on much more than just Stratocasters. They are considered to be brighter and crisper than humbuckers or P90s.  Rockabilly, Chicago blues, country and surf rock all utilize single coil pickups effectively. Having said that, they sound fantastic in any genre depending on the mix and eq as well as effects applied. The one thing Single Coil pickups do not do well is heavy metal. Some bands and musicians make this work but generally they don’t take to distortion well. The sound doesn’t break up consistently with high levels of distortion in a Sydney Recording Studio. For this sound you want to be looking more at a Humbucker:

Humbucker

 


Humbuckers are basically two single coil pickups together. Single coil pickups utilise what is called a “60-cycle hum”. This refers to the fact that background electrical noise is transferred to your amplifier along with the vibrations from your strings. Humbuckers were designed to enhance or “buck” this hum and as a result have higher output. This can make them warmer and more useful for jazz or blues. It also lets them receive and put out much more distortion.  Humbuckers are by far more versatile and are a safe bet. A single coil pick up comes with a unique sound and style but can be a real risk in some settings. Arguably the humbucker will not perform country, rockabilly or anything that requires a “twang”. For that you can stick with your single coil!

P90

If you are looking for a compromise and something in between the single coil and humbucker sound.  P90 is for you. They have a higher output than single coil pickups, but not quite the heaviness and force of humbuckers. Their tone has more warmth than your standard single coil, but will never be as deep as a humbucker. Often blues artists will walk into a Sydney Sound Studio with a P90 because they want to get that blend of warmth and twang.

Here is a great guide online for  Electric Guitar Pickups.

Bass Guitar Pickups

There are a number of different categories of bass pickups : J-pickups (Jazz Bass), Split-Coil pickups, Dual-Coil pickups, and Soap Bar pickups.

  • J-Pickups
    J-pickups were first used by fender on the fender Jazz bass as early as the 50’s and this is the reason they are named so. They have a warm and clear sound, and are often used by soul, blues and jazz bassists. Having said that, plenty of rock musicians use them. Noteably Duff McKagen from Guns and Roses. 
  • Split-coil
    Split-coil pickups are two halves of a single pickup that are split in order to cover a wider range of the neck versus bridge sound. They are much more punchy than jazz pickups. Imagine a huge hammer with a lot of weight that is coated in cotton wool and butter. This might get you close to a visual image of the Split coil sound. They are used on the infamous P-Bass or Precision bass. They are also the most popular pickup because of they’re warmth and ability to punch through a mix in any Sydney Sound Studio. 
  • Dual-coil
    Dual-coil pickups create a humbucking effect for the bass. They are much warmer and fat and great for a vintage sound. Dual-coil’s are subtle and good for a small band where the mixing is clear and has lots of space for the bass. They will not cut through well in a large ensemble if you are performing live. Keep the Dual-coil for intimate settings. 
  • Soap bar
    Soap bar pickups are J-bass pickups with a wider casing. They are sealed and last longer. You will find Soap bar pickups in a lot of modern basses. They also have pins that protrude from the bottom of the pickup in order to facilitate different wiring combinations. 

Hitting the town with your new information

Armed with this basic information, you should be able to make a serious start in selecting the right pickup for you and your instrument. Use your ears, continue researching and enter a Sydney Recording Studio like Crash Symphony Productions with confidence!!

07 Feb
Recording studio

Buying a drum kit and understanding construction

The importance of Drums

Drums are vital in a band context. No doubt about it. They are the engine room for rhythm and create the atmosphere and the “groove” from which all the instruments int he band draw their “time and feel”. James Brown was a huge supporter of the idea that the drummer is the most crucial element for feel in a band. Not only the rhythmic feel but the style and “era” of the song are captured with drums. Different drum kits have different sounds. In fact, different drum kits with different tunings have different sounds! As a drummer in a Sydney Recording Studio you are a time keeper – yes, but you are also an artist with a palette of paints and colours to choose from. From where you place the stick to how hard you hit and which tom or cymbal you choose in any given moment, you have a heck of a lot of power to affect the mix in a Sydney Sound Studio and the feel of any song or band.

The importance of the style of kit

Lets be real. You can’t create a brilliant power ballad 80’s drum sound, or a funky mid 90’s RnB shuffle with a piece of trash drum kit. The last thing you want in any mix is to hear “pots and pans” sounding kits, or the thud of cardboard sounds because you tried to save money on a kit from China! Having said that, you do not need to spend a fortune. Its more about the type of wood and the basic construction than the price tag. With a little research you can find yourself a drum kit to record in a Sydney Recording Studio like Crash Symphony Productions. 

   If you’re learning drums and thinking about buying a new drum kit, its time to think about the gear you will use. Lets talk about finding the right hardware. It doesn’t matter if you play heavy metal, R&B, country, pop, reggae, rockabilly, jazz,  blues, or 50’s old rock ‘n’ roll, this blog will help you find a kit from which you can craft your trade in any recording studio.

Beginners and those snooping around for a new kit

When Buying a new drum kit, a full kit will usually contain all pieces of hardware that you require. For those who already have some hardware, purchasing a shell pack can save you a lot of cash. A shell pack contains the drums with no extra hardware except tom mounts and rims. If you already own a kit but want to add to it, an add on pack is a great way to go because the cost is often less than buying each drum on its own.

Of course if you are a total beginner and own nothing you can purchase a beginner drum set. These contain all the drums, hardware and cymbals you need in one hit. Remember you can upgrade later and add as you go. Let’s face it, in 6 months you might change your mind and decide to be a guitarist!! If you’re shopping for your child, make sure you go for a “junior drum kit” NOT a toy. Yes there is a big difference in quality but not in price. You will want to ask a music professional and stay away from the internet and large department stores. Head to a local music shop and chat about a small scale drum kit that is properly designed. A toy will only give your child a discomforting start and create bad habits and posture.

The type of music you play

Generally its a great idea to choose drum sets that fits the style of music you mostly play. Are you into Metallica or Ed Sheehan? Do you idolise Steve Gadd or Connie Kay? A basic rule is that kits with less and smaller drums are a good choice for jazz, traditional blues, and other acoustic styles, while drum kits with bigger drums are better for heavy metal, rock, and other louder styles like punk or even fusion.

Types of Woods and builds: Three main types

When buying a new drum kit, a crucial element that you should consider is the type of wood used in constructing your drums. Different types of woods are used for drum construction, and all have unique sound qualities.

  • Maple is the most common wood used for drum making. It has a warm tone.
  • If you are going for a harder and brighter sound that you want to cut through the mix in a Sydney Sound Studio, Birch is a great choice. Its tough, with a harder, crisper sound.  Its loud, bright tone makes it fantastic for recording, as it easily cuts through the mix. Birch has less muddy mid range and clear highs and lows.
  • Mahogany  is the wood you want if you are going for a vintage sound. Drummers who dwell in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s eras love this wood. Its got less crispness and harshness than both Maple and Birch and is especially great for music like The Beatles, James Brown old school funk, early Cream and even old rock like early 70’s Pink Floyd. Beware however that it is a very specific sound. Lovely and warm but don’t expect it to cut through the mix on a heavy metal track or a modern Nashville country band! It just won’t work for that!

Woods for those on a budget

  • For those on a budget when buying a new drum kit, consider Poplar. It has very similar sounds to Birch but is not a hard to come by and therefore much cheaper.
  • A really great tip for those on a budget or just starting out is to know that Falkata is often used as a substitute for maple. It costs less yet has very similar sound qualities and acoustic results to Maple
  • Basswood is another cheaper option that can be a good replacement for Maple or Birch. Basswood has a smooth grain that takes look great with lacquer.
  • Lauan wood is another replacement quite specifically for those searching for the Birch sound. Again its cheaper but can get surprisingly similar results.
  • Oak is very similar to maple but slightly brighter. Though a whisker cheaper, many drummers actually prefer Oak over Maple. This is more about taste than anything else, and if you are just starting out, either will be fine.

Drum shells consist of several layers of wood know as “plies”. Generally speaking, drums with more layers of wood have a brighter sound and higher “fundamental pitch”. Drums made with less layers of ply mostly are fatter and warmer with a lower fundamental pitch.

Other nuances with drum building

Buying a new drum kit takes in to account an understanding of construction. Drum making, just like drumming is an art form in itself. Though this blog doesn’t go in depth, if you are a more experienced drummer and want to know more about the construction of drums its worth checking out other sites. (A list is provided at the bottom of this blog.) Things as simple as the angle at which a drum shell’s edge is cut makes a big difference in the sound. A steeper or sharper edge angle will give a bright sound with more cutting highs, while a more rounded edge gives a deeper, more mellow sound. It really is a science all its own and at Crash Symphony Productions we understand that science in its relationship to recording.

Drums have a number of different finishes and its good to understand this when buying a new drum kit. The most common is a vinyl finish which protects the kit and gives it longevity. However many people prefer a lacquered finish for the exposure of the beautiful wood grain. These things are aesthetics but lets face it, when you are not in a Sydney Recording studio, you need to be on your A-game as far as appearance on a stage is concerned. The drum kit is by far the largest instrument and visually it is the centre of the bands image whether in a Sydney Recording Studio or on a giant arena stage.

Sydney Recording Studio Cuica

16 Jan

Jazz Harmony concepts for beginners

Understanding Jazz Harmony

Jazz harmony can be intimidating for many musicians. Looking at a jazz standard on a piece of sheet music can be quite baffling. Chords sometimes seem unrelated and with all the alterations they have it is often easier just to say “this is not my bag”. So many people walk away from Jazz because they are intimidated by jazz harmony. You need not be! There are foundational principles that can get you through any well known jazz standard when tracking in a Sydney recording studio. 

Simplify the voicings. 

First of all, for chordal and accompaniment instruments in a sound studio it is rarely necessary to add alterations such as b9, #9, 13 or #5. These are colours that are often expressed in the melody itself. In fact sometime adding the alterations can clash with the melody if it is there as a passing note. Yes, ideally we want to use them to give the standard its colour. However if you are struggling with a first reading of jazz harmony, it is totally acceptable to play the basic foundational chord. These reduce the amount of shapes and voicing you need to grapple with. Here is a chart of 5 basic chord qualities without alterations:

Dominant 7th.     1.   3.   5.  b7

Major 7th            1.   3.   5.   7           

Minor 7th.           1.   b3.   5.  b7

Half diminished.  1.   b3.   b5.  b7

Diminished          1.   b3.   b5.  6

 

Simpler than it looks

Quite seriously that is all you need to find your way through a jazz standard. Also it is worth bearing in mind that you rarely even need to add the 5th of the chord. The 3rd and the 7th are what gives a chord its unique character. Even in a Half Diminished chord where the b5 is unique, a beginner jazz student can still play 1,  b3,  b7 (the same 3 note voicing as a minor 7th chord) without interfering with the harmony or the rest of the band in a Sydney recording studio.

There is just no need to avoid jazz any longer. However start with what you know and add to it slowly. Just playing through the tonic, 3rd and 7th of every chord in a standard will give you a beautiful insight into the “harmonic flow” of the song. 

Other useful approaches can be applied step by step once the above method is conquered. For example if you are comfortable with simple 1 3 7 voicing’s (or better still ONLY 3 and 7 voicing with out tonic. Yes that’s right 2 notes are more effective than 3 when there is a bass player in the band!) Having said that, we can now begin to approach the extensions in a non intimidating way. 

Simplifying extensions

Approaching the b9 in jazz harmony is easier than we think. When you see a dominant 7th b9 chord you can simply choose to play ANY diminished triad off the b9 itself, the 3rd, 5th and 7th. This is because the entire chord is a diminished chord with a different bass note. Remember the bass note/tonic is not your responsibility when there is a bass player in the band when jamming in a music studio in Sydney. For example: 

C7b9 you can quite safely play any of the following:

Edim. (Built off the 3rd)

Gdim. (Built off the 5th)

Bbdim (Built off the 7th)

Dbdim (Built off the b9th)

Most importantly the aim of this article is to make life easier for intermediate/beginner players when reading or recording a jazz standard. So when you see a progression like this:  Dm9.   G7b9.  Cma9#11

Your options can be very simple and very tasteful. 

A D minor 7th chord with no 5th will suffice – though the 5th is ok also if its easier (try 5th fret root note voicing from the A string)

for the G7c9 Just play a D diminished from the same position!

Landing on the Cmajor is a simple 3 note voicing going downwards from the 5th fret, voicing: G B E

All the above is accomplished with hardly any movement and can be applied time and again in any key for any II V I progression.

The next step

Let’s use the same example and try a different position and add perhaps 1 more extension.

Try from the 10th fret:

Dm7 3 note voicing (E string root note on 10th fret)

G7b9 –  Ab diminished (from the Ab on the A string)

Cma9#11 – Similarly, the simple major 7 shape (3 note voicing) with C root note on the 8th fret. If you are ready, you can leave off the root note: C and play the upper 2 notes B and E (9th fret D and G strings) and simply add a D on top (10th fret high E string). You could simply play a G major 7 triad (this contains G, B, D and F#). This is particularly allowable if the there is a pianist in the group that will cover the 3rd of the harmony. Another option is to simply play an Em9 chord or Em7. This covers the upper harmony of a Cma9#11chord quite comprehensively. However, that is slightly more advanced and will be covered in another blog about recording in a Sydney sound studio.

Beginning to think in full triads and chords that start on the 3rd and the 5th of the chord you are comping will give you a head start for playing extensions!

Some other useful shapes and ideas are located here at Learn Jazz Standards.

Various 3 note voicing positions:

 

28 Dec
recording studio bluegrass

Starting your own band

Stating your own band

Most teenagers at some stage have a dream of being in a band. As soon as you begin to listen to popular music on RAGE or Video Hits. Ideas start forming about perhaps becoming famous. Add to this the fuel of watching documentaries on famous bands like the Rolling Stones or The Beatles. With this inspiration it very likely that you will begin to plan your own musical career path and find yourself in a Sydney Recording Studio. Being in a band does not have to be a pipe dream that never comes true. It simply requires a bit of organisation and a dream. What sort of band do you want to start? Which style would you choose? Ultimately the answers to these questions are: the style that you love the most. The style that says who YOU are and how you feel inside.

To cover or not to cover?

You should ask yourself a few questions. Do you you want to start out from scratch in a band that writes and performs original music? Perhaps you have a number 1 hit up your sleeve. Does your band want to begin by playing the music of others in a cover band? Covers bands are a great way to start out as a musician. I remember my first covers band which we named Crowded Outhouse which is now known as NOAH. Our aim was to play hits from all the ages. In particular the band played songs by the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Cream. We also played contemporary songs by bands like Matchbox 20, Live and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Of course we did have a dream of being famous but we came out of the 90’s with something more valuable. There was an understanding and appreciation of music an how it is put together. Eventually we mustered up the creative powers to record together. Eventually we found ourselves morphing into an originals band. Yes we found ourselves in a Sydney Recording Studio putting down tracks of our own.

We used to encourage each other and constantly strive for inspiration to write and record better. I remember one year we all went to the Hunter Valley for our bass players birthday. The band had a weekend retreat up there and came home with half an album worth of ideas. It wasn’t long before we were in a Sydney sound studio listing to our music come to life. There is no greater pleasure than walking into a Sydney recording studio and hearing your songs come to life.

Rehearsing

When starting a band rehearsals can range from once a week to 2 times per week. Less frequently is ok if you and the other band members have full time jobs. It really depends what you are looking for out of a band and how much you want to invest into it. Perhaps it is just an outlet or form of stress relief? Are you really aiming to go somewhere and are very goal oriented. This is important for all the band members to discuss. Before you enter a Sydney Recording Studio you will want to share the same vision for your project.

Often songs are not fully complete upon entering a Sydney sound studio. There is nothing wrong with this. When you enter a Sydney recording studio like Crash Symphony Productions the main thing you need are the bones of a chord structure, lyrics and inspiration for a song.  You will find that a good producer will help you bring out the best of the song. Sometimes this will involve working in the recording studio to add extra components to the song, like solos, instrumentals, introductions or Outros. If you don’t feel confident enough yourself to track all the instruments, a good voice over studio will have a plethora of great session musicians on tap to come and track for you. Crash Symphony Productions can put the best instrumentalists in Sydney onto your songs and make them radio worthy.

Landing your first gig

The most exciting thing about having your own band is having your first gig! This is a great opportunity to shine in front of your friends and family. If you have concerns about being accepted into a venue, remember you can always organise your own gig! I remember my very first gig with my first band. It was on a giant septic tank out the back of the lead singer’s house. We held it as a concert for friends and parents and we felt like absolute super stars. It wasn’t long after that that we started to play at friends parties.

Our band played for free or for drinks at first. When we got enough experience performing we were able to enter the pub scene. I remember the first time we landed a gig at the local bowling club. This was a big milestone for us and we used the money to buy our first sound equipment. The best way to get gigs in this day and age is to record a good video. Crash Symphony productions can do this for you with state of the art gear and a green screen. Its a great way to get ahead and get the attention of agents.

 

Crash Symphony production

 

 

11 Dec
sydney recording studio

Tips for EQ

Tips for EQ

EQing is a big subject but it doesn’t’ need to be intimidating in a Sydney sound studio. The best way to think of EQ is to understand that each instrument has its own “space”. We generally don’t want to invade that space with other instruments. We want to keep them distinct so they stand out more and occupy the frequencies that are most appropriate for them. Its as much about separating  instruments as it is about blending in a recording studio! For example: Generally you don’t want to have a really bass heavy electric guitar mix because it will muddy the actual bass guitar mix.  Another thing that can interfere with your bass guitar mix is unwanted lower mids in the kick drum. We want big lows on the kick and even some highs to give it some cut through but we don’t want it muddying up the bass mix. Sometimes when mixing we have to focus less on the actual sound of the individual instrument. Try and get a big picture of how it interacts with other instruments. Understanding frequency ranges is essential for this concept to flow nicely for you when you are mixing.

Tips for EQ inside certain frequency boundaries:

20 – 80Hz: These frequencies tend to be felt more than actually heard. They are where the “power” in the mix comes from. They give drive to the rest of the mix. The bass and kick drum live down here.

80 – 250Hz:  The danger zone!!! Please remember this. A lot of instruments meet here and all compete for space so it’s really worth cleaning this up on each individual track. We don’t’ want it to be overcrowded and muddy here.

250 – 2kHz: This is where you will spend most of your time creating and sculpting the beauty of a good mix in a sydney recording studio. The fundamental harmonics of most instruments are in this range. Learn what instruments are most prevalent in this region and clean up around them to let them really shine and stand out.

2k – 5kHz: Try and be subtle in this area. It’s very powerful and gives clarity to most instruments. Be careful not to go overboard here because it can make a mix sound harsh. Sometimes it can be a fine line between crystal clear, crisp clarity and rowdy harshness.

5k – 8kHz: Particularly important in a Voice over studio – this is where the “s” sounds live and where consonants are defined. You give clarity to a vocal in this region.

8k – 20kHz: This is great for the top end of the Hi-hats and all cymbals. It’s a shimmering place, adds brightness and sparkle to the mix of your Sydney sound studio.

Tips for EQ with specific instruments:

 Voice: If the voice is really booming you can use a high pass filter at 150Hz. If it is too thick and intrusive you can cut a bit out of the danger zone at around 240Hz. If you feel they are not standing out in the mix enough, boosting 2.5k will help them to cut through.

Bass guitar: Basses vary a lot and different instruments have different characteristics. Spend some time getting to know a bass during the input phase. Some melt like butter perfectly into any mix with very little work (like the Fodera NYC at Crash Symphony Productions). Others on the other hand require a bit more love and attention. Generally speaking if you feel the bass is too muddy, try cutting 160 – 200Hz. 700 to 1kHz will help the individual notes to stand out. This zone will also create that “new string” sound if the strings aren’t fresh. Be warned though, a lot of other instruments need that space between 700 and 1k so boost it sparingly and possibly automate it a little for “bass feature” passages.

Live Piano

Often the most complex instrument to mix. This really depends on the mics you are using and where they are positioned. Stay tuned for another article on this topic. If it is boomy  you can often find the problem between 200 – 350Hz. If it’s a bit honky and “barking” cut more towards 400 – 500Hz. Between 2 and 4kHz you can get it to cut through. A little often goes a long way in that region!

Kick and lower toms

They will almost always sound quite boxy at around 500Hz and you can usually cull a fair bit in that region. 5k is where you will get the cut through to make sure they aren’t just lost in lows and low mids. 60-80Hz will give you the power and the drive that you want mostly from a kick drum.

Hi- Hat

A hugely important instrument that can determine groove, subdivision style and so many other important characteristics in a song. Cut back on lows and low-mids. You don’t really need much down there. Above that experiment and look for the character you want. Don’t forget 8k – 20k where you will get the brilliance.

Snare

You can be fairly gentle with most snares (though of course they vary). Generally speaking they can stand to lose a bit around 600Hz. 4k on the other hand can really give them the smack and cut through they need to drive a song. Depending on the drum itself and how it is tuned, 200Hz can sometimes be appropriate to boost a little. Experiment and see if this is what you’re looking for. Refer to 80’s power ballads for this style of snare!

For further reading to optimise your work in a Sydney recording studio, make sure you check out Udemy!

tips for eq

 

 

05 Dec
sydney recording studio

Getting the best mix for you

Getting the best mix in a Sydney sound studio is an art form all its own. If you are new to mixing and want to sharpen up your skills and ears, this blog is for you!

General goals for mixing and balance

One of the most important thing about mixing is having goals and ideas about what you want in a recording studio. With out these you can easily wander aimlessly for hours playing with faders and eq. It can be a frustrating time killer in a recording studio so follow these pointers to keep you on track:

One technique is to just simply work out your volumes and balance before adding compression or heavy EQ. No amount of processing will fix an un-balanced mix. Sometimes it can be a good idea to strip everything back to silent and fade in each track one at a time manually using your ears. It is good to do this while looping a section in the middle of the song where most instruments and sounds are in play already. Of course you will have to rebalance after adding compression and other processes. With a good starting point in any  you will find it so much easier Sydney recording studio.

The next step in getting the best mix is to work on the panning. Panning can make a world of difference to the over all feel of your mix. Try and get a balance between left and right. The drum kit is particularly important in this regard.

When mixing drums, try and keep the solid hard hitting rocks of the kick in the centre. I’m referring to the bass drum and the snare. When they are central the mix will feel grounded and punchy. Hi-hats and auxiliary percussion like shakers and tambourine usually do well sitting between 0 – 20 from the centre. Experiment with different positions. When it comes to more unusual percussion like bongos, congas, timbale and even Tom-toms, you can be more extreme. Anywhere from 40 to 90 is good. Remember to keep them in balance and not outweigh one side over the other. Also it is worth bearing in mind that if you pan anything hard right or left you will lose it in a mono playback.

Bass is similar to bass drum and usually fairly central. The separation between those too (if needed) can be adjusted using compression and slight variance of EQ. Lead vocal is the other thing that belongs fairly close to the centre.

All the other instruments can comfortably fit to the left or the right. This is again a matter of experimentation. Using stereo effects on something think like an organ will ensure you don’t get weighed down on one side. Having said that you don’t want a thick rhythmic and chordal instrument clogging up the centre.

The importance of EQ

One of the most powerful and intimidating aspects of mixing can be EQ. EQ has the power to separate instruments and draw out the unique characteristic of each element. for example a hi-hat can really sizzle and shine between 5-10k. A bass guitar will have more attack if you boost 700HZ. These are just examples and it is really worth studying this in a more in depth way. It is worth learning the characteristics of each instrument and what EQ’s correspond with the sounds you are trying to enhance in your Sydney recording studio.

One of the biggest challenges producers and engineers face is cleaning up the muddy low mids. Removing unwanted frequencies is actually as important as enhancing.  Adjusting the reverb EQ is equally important. Most reverb plugins have an EQ attached to them and it is important to un-clog the lower mids so things don’t get muddy. There are often presets you can use to make sure the splash around in stereo does not get to wild. Remember that the frequencies amplified in your EQ plugin will affect the whole mix. Make sure you adjust them individually for each track and also for global reverb. This blog does not go into that amount of detail but I highly recommend studying and experimenting with each instrument. Here is a great link for understanding the basics of EQ in a sound studio: Produce like a Pro.

Allowing your mix to breath with compression

Compression is similarly difficult to get your head around. Having said that there are some really straight forward principles around compression in a Sydney sound studio that can have your mix sounding punchy and clear. Not every studio is equiped with a pair of state of the art LA-2A’s like Crash Symphony Productions, but there are great plugins that can get you started in an amateur recording studio. A great way to start compressing a track is to find the loudest/busiest part of the mix and take each instrument until it shines. Hard sounding snares and intrusive lead guitar will need heavier compression but subtle vocals require less tampering. You dont’ want to suck the life out of your mix by compressing everything too hard. Here is a great site for improving your skills and understanding the basics of compression in a Sydney Recording Studio: Musician On a Mission.

sydney recording studio

 

27 Nov
Video Production Sydney

Maintaining your skills as a musician

Maintaining your skills as a musician

Songwriting can be great fun and can even be an addiction. A very healthy and productive one! Once you get inside a music studio in Sydney and begin to let the creative juices flow, hours can pass without even noticing. While this is a great place to be in we mustn’t forget the rudiments of playing music and maintaining our skills!
In fact practicing and discovering new techniques, rhythmic patterns and melodic devices can enhance our song writing and recording studio ability. Below I have outlined a few techniques, concepts and approaches for developing focus and direction in your practice routine

Stay with one theme for a period of time.

When maintaining your skills be sure to focus on one particular style or style for a period of time. Not hours or days but rather weeks. (Sometimes it takes even months of practice in a Sydney recording studio.)
As consumers we are constantly bombarded with new music from Spotify to Apple music to all the latest releases on YouTube and the radio. As well as this there are instructional videos, blogs and websites with a multitude of suggestions about what we should be learning and practicing. Musicians often find themselves jumping from one technique to another without mastering anything quite perfectly. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with having variety in your practice routine. The way to really improve is to stick at one concept for a while. To take a very simple example. If you want to improve your playing and phrasing as a guitarist for example. I highly recommend looking closely classic solos and focusing on every inflection. Its these details that make great musicians great. From the length of each note to the style of picking and also the pitch accuracy of bending notes.
Focus on whatever you are trying to accomplish for a period of weeks. This will create a consistency and authenticity in your playing. It’s important to state at this point that you should choose something you are passionate about. If you enjoy the playing of the master you are imitating you will be inspired to spend more focussed time on that aspect of practicing in a music studio in Sydney.

Slow things down

Very much related to the previous paragraph is the idea of slowing down sections of a song or solo in order to be more accurate. Playing something fast over and over his very ineffective. It does not iron out the problems that need to be ironed out. In fact it can cause you to develop bad technique and habits! Allow your muscle memory and fingers to adjust and really absorb what you are learning. Give them a chance lock into new phrase over time.  Slow down and focus on the details. It may seem tedious at the time they will pay great dividends later on. When people are listening and wondering what that “x-factor” is as you solo years down the track, you can surely point back to this concept. Similarly, when learning a new scale this is especially important. Playing a scale fast does not necessarily mean it is is embedded in your long-term memory. Try the scale slowly in different positions and “feel” each note. Allow each note and each position on the fretboard to become a part of your long term memory. When this happens you will find that you can call on it at any time when improvising in a Sydney recording studio.

Set goals

Goal setting is especially important when desiring to improve our playing. The goals can be very simple and no doubt they will change from time to time. The important thing is that when you sit down with the instrument you think before playing! So many times we just pick a guitar up and “noodle”. Its very relaxing and can be great for relieving stress. Many non-professional adult students simply want to play guitar for stress relief and therapy and this is fine! They don’t necessarily have the goal like you of maintaining your skills.They have other focusses and occupations in life and guitar is just an “outlet”. If however you are looking to move forward as a musician focus is essential. Quite literally before picking up the instrument, tell yourself OUT LOUD what you hope to accomplish. This will cause you to be so much more time efficient. It is astounding what someone can accomplish in just 10 minutes a day. Its not quantity that you need to improve. It is quality in focus. The irony about this entire concept is that at the end of a productive 10 minutes you will feel so much more accomplished and relaxed than if you wasted 10 minutes noodling! Playing something we are already familiar with because it sounds good is really a time waster. Yes it can be gratifying for a moment. But frankly – MOVE ON! Forward progress is exhilarating when you develop momentum. I cannot emphasise enough how fulfilling it is after a week or 2 of just 20 minutes a day on a new technique in a music studio in Sydney to feel yourself nailing it. If you’re looking to make a big impact in a sound studio in Sydney, go in with a constantly evolving skill set!

16 Nov

Recording studio ideas for song writing

Planning an album at home

It’s a common practice these days to record one’s own demo material before taking it to a professional recording studio like Crash Symphony Productions. To save a lot of time and money I highly recommend planning your album and song writing in a flow chart. Know where you are going while at the same time being open and flexible. Consider a few important factors before moving forward. Below are some pointers and ideas about how to be prepared for the ultimate Sydney recording studio experience:

Getting an honest opinion on your song material

There are a few hard and fast rules about song writing. Yes, everyone has their own style and different lyric content. Yet there are things that you can’t do without. One of those things is the opinion of others! We may fear the opinions of others and be hesitant to ask. Don’t let this stop you from collecting as many ideas and opinions as possible. It is true that some people will have a different taste to what you are writing. The reality however is that most people can even hear a hit song in a genre that they are not familiar with. I cannot count how many times I have written 3 or 4 songs only to find out that my least favourite was popular with other people! You could be leaving gems on the shelf and missing obvious recording studio hits. When you walk into a recording studio it is often too late to be chopping and changing the songs you want on your album.

A consistent feel

While every song will not be the same on your album, certainly there should be a consistent “feeling” that comes through. You want variety of course but without sacrificing the general style of the album. Recording studios are the place to refine this sound and hone in on a common thread between different songs. A particular instrument or vocal sound. A recurring emotional theme in the lyrics. A common thread of production ideas. All of these things are ways to “unify” an album. Consider the great artists and albums like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. Another great album is the 1976 “Hotel California” by The Eagles. Both of these classic albums have a very clear unification between songs. The guitar sounds, the production and even the lyrics all tend to “gel” and create a feeling. Similarly modern albums like “X” by Ed Sheeran have a very unified feel. Sheeran plans his songs and the feelings long before he ever enters recording studios! He knows what he wants and so should you.

Writing from the heart

Another important factor when walking into a recording studio is to have your heart on yoru sleeve. A good producer and Crash Symphony productions will always look for the heart of your project and try to reflect that in every aspect of the production. To some people this might sound overly emotional but the reality is – music IS emotional! You are aiming to catch peoples attention, not just with their ears, but also with their heart and mind. If they can walk away knowing they have been truly touched and influenced by your music, you can be sure the album will do well.

Who is your audience?

Consider the people who may or may not listen to your songs. When walking into recording studios, young artists often forget their intended audience. Sit back after you have begun a song and try to envision the people you are singing too. Music is a two way art form and the listener is as important as the performer. So many people walk away from recording studios disappointed with sales because they did not have a target. A classic example of this is someone who’s song writing is very old sounding (70’s or 80’s style) and is surprised when they don’t’ get any local modern radio play! There is nothing wrong with writing for a bye-gone era as long as you are aware that you are competing for a place among those genres. It can be harder to break into a scene that has already been flooded with great music. Having said that, you can write in any style you want if you understand the audience. People are always hungry for new music of ANY style. So don’t be discouraged!

Finding lyric material

Are you a detective? Are you an investigative journalist? If not, try and imagine that you are! Be hungry for new ideas and new lyrics. If your eyes are open all the time for new material and ideas, you will be surprised by your song writing. There are emotions, thoughts, behaviours and relationship stories all around you. When you walk into a recording studio you should be full of great lyrics and stories to tell to your prospective listener.

 

07 Nov

Recording Studio Techniques for Arranging

Arranging and voicing for different sized bands

Arranging is a broad topic and it is not nearly as intimidating as most people think. Recording studios that focus on film music in particular need these techniques.  You don’t necessarily need an impossible set of skills and years of experience. Rather some basic principles to help you understand how instruments blend. If you are looking to “fatten up” your sound and expand from the typical 4 – 5 piece rock pop band, consider these factors:

Thinning out the rhythm section

When adding brass remember to thin out the harmony instruments like piano and guitar when arranging. Often just removing a few notes from the voicings of accompaniment instruments can really create space. This allows brass harmonies to breath. Also ask the rhythm players to comp around the brass arrangements. Recording or re-recording chordal instruments after the brass lines have been recorded is better.

Ranges and tonality

Research the optimal range and tonalities of the instruments you want to add. For example if you were going to add a cello in multiple layers, try and get a grasp of what a cello sounds like in different octaves. I use cello for an example because it is remarkably versatile. It can sound extraordinarily warm in the middle register, (a 6th or so either side of middle C). With this in mind you may be able to cover the role of a viola or even a trombone for ballad style voicing.

Like wise, even the violin itself has different character in different octaves. You will find a violin will need far more overdubbing to sound smooth. Extra layers are essential to remove the harshness from the upper ranges of a violin. This is evidenced in many of the samples and plug-ins that allow for this factor.

Using mutes

Remember the availability of mutes and different techniques. For example, dramatic changes in tonality can be achieved with a trumpet by simply changing mutes. A cup mute can give a darker, swallowed and less intrusive sound. A straight mute will punctuate the instrument and cause it to stand out even at lower volumes.

Using unusual instruments

Consider the use of unusual orchestral instruments. A French Horn can add surprising clarity and smoothness to a ballad arrangement. Long tones on a French horn blended with trombone and flugelhorn can create a warm mystical flavour (think unicorns). This steers the sound away from the cliché’s of a standard brass line up.

Panning and mixing

Panning and mic positioning can influence the sound dramatically. Creating a natural “orchestral spread” is vital to give a fuller more authentic sound to your arrangements. Also using the correct eq and reverb for each instrument is vital. In recording studios, most of the magic happens around mixing.

Simple lines

Recording studio work can be taxing so don’t over think the lines. Often a simple 3 or 4 note pentatonic motif with some basic syncopation is sufficient for brass lines. Such lines can be sketched out on a guitar or taken from motifs and ideas with in the existing melody. Very often the first idea that comes into your head will be the one that is most congruent with the style of the song. After this point it is simply a matter of trialing the lines with the brass players and allowing them to suggest appropriate changes! Remember they play their instrument day and night and certain phrases “roll off the mouthpiece” easier than others.

Involving the players

Related to the previous point: Let the brass players experiment with their own lines. You could ask them to perform multiple takes with different inflections, fall offs, flutter tongues and blending techniques and even different turns of phrase. In recording studios this can reveal surprisingly workable lines and add to the originality of the arrangement as a whole.

Balancing instrument velocity

Recording studio equipment allows management of volume before mixing! Brass and wind instruments are not so different to tube amps and have different points of volume response for tonality. This is one of the main reasons they are far superior to any samples or plugins. Similarly, the interval between notes in a voicing can affect the impact greatly.

For example: Shifting the trombone part up a 3rdor 4thand closing the gap with the trumpet can create a much thicker sound depending on over tones in a composition. Be conscious of harmonics and the power of a 5thas opposed to the relative gentleness of a third. Bear in mind the science of the instruments and listen to multiple options. Sometimes it is simply not possible to tell on paper what a blend will sound like! Experimenting with voicing’s and changing intervals during a session can reveal some gorgeous sounds. The recording studio itself may have certain frequencies that respond to different notes in the same room.

 

30 Oct

Recording Studios Laser Physics

Recording studios

Recording studios are high-tech environments and there are many technologies that make a recording studio function in the twenty first century. In this article we will look at how lasers have made a difference to the modern recording studio. We’ll dive into the actual raw details about how lasers work and how they help make things function more efficiently. So let’s look at recording studios laser physics!

What Recording studio technology uses Lasers

Lasers have augmented the digital era dramatically. This is because lasers can be switched on and off very rapidly, and thus, can transmit binary code. In the recording studio lasers can be found in CD and DVD reader-writers, fiberoptic cabling aka “light-pipe”, and alarm systems. Read more about recording studios here.

Understanding how lasers work

The word ‘laser’ is actually an acronym for Light Amplified Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Few recording studio engineers actually appreciate this fact about lasers. Let’s explore how lasers work at the atomic level. Essentially, when energy is imparted to an atom the electrons respond by jumping up to higher energy valence orbitals. When these electrons will spontaneously fall back down to their ‘ground state’ energy level and release their energy in the form of light. This light is released in a packet that we refer to as a photo.

Energy is ‘pumped’ into the atoms. This continues until all the electrons have had their energy states elevated to the upper orbitals. This will cause all these electrons to elevate to higher energy levels. When all these electrons have fully occupied their higher energy levels we refer to this atomic state as ‘population inversion’. Now for the important part. When we fire a photo at an atom that is in population inversion it causes all the higher energy electrons to fall back down to their ground simultaneously. Therefore, all of these electrons will release photos, or light energy, at the same time. The atom will, thus, emit a large amount of light. Now you know how the words ‘Stimulated’ and ‘Amplified’ got used in the famous  acronym – LASER!

Fiber Optics and Lasers

Fiberoptic physics is extremely important in the digital age because this is how we harness lasers to transmit binary information at close to the speed of light. Recording studios utilise fiberoptic cables throughout. It may be a cable transmitting audio information from the computer to the audio-digital-converter or the internet cable taking data to another part of the world. Fiberoptic cables are the fastest that we can currently transmit binary information.

A fiberoptic cable is made from glass, glass-polymer, or polymers. The beam is aimed down the centre core. This how it reaches the other end of the cable. The refractive index of the core of the cable is varied according to the gaussian function and this is key to why the beam doesn’t escape the cable. The multiple beams (referred to as modes) arrive at the other end of the cable, simultaneously. The gaussian refractive index inside the core ensures that this occurs. This increases the efficiency of data transfer along a multi-mode fiberoptic core.

The future of recording studios with Lasers

Recording studios are becoming more digital-dominant and less analogue as technology progresses. It makes sense then that we will see greater use of laser technology in recording studios. There is new technology currently emerging that will assist recording studio engineers to place microphones on instruments robotically. These devices will use laser distance-guidance systems to help the computers determine the microphones location relative to the player and instrument. Recording studios are highly reliant on the internet.

Transferring large packets of digital data is becoming increasingly important! The internet is becoming a global recording studio. As the technology available for the internet becomes faster the latency will asymptotically approach zero. This will allow musicians, who are in geographically different locations, to jam with each other over the internet!

Solutions such as ‘wireless fiberoptic’ are becoming closer to reality. The internet could be sped up by astonishing orders-of-magnitude through the use of this technology. It must be noted that this technology is still about five years off in the United States! This technology is how we at Crash Symphony Productions stay ahead of the game in an ever changing technological world.