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.

22 Oct

Sydney Recording Studio, Juan Carmona and the Sydney Opera House!

Sydney Recording Studio

Juan Carmona performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House.

Crash Symphony Productions, our Sydney recording studio, had the honour of recording the internationally acclaimed Flamenco guitarist, Juan Carmona, at the Sydney Opera House. Sinfonia Flamenca was the official name of the event. The concert took place in early September and Juan was accompanied by the wonderful and flawless Sydney Symphony Orchestra. This is the story of that recording and how our engineers worked to capture a beautiful video of the event.

When the Sydney Opera House became a Sydney Recording Studio

The highest temple of musical performance in the southern hemisphere is the Sydney Opera House. It matches most other venues around the globe in both sound quality and architectural uniqueness. For any music lover to work there is an immense honour and extremely exciting.

There are some challenges in recording at the Sydney Opera House. Understandably, they do not permit cameras to be used on stage. This was the first challenge. It is important to the management of the Sydney Opera House that guests not be interrupted by cameras that are visible on the stage while the symphony is performing. Anything that would be considered a distraction from the musical performance is strictly forbidden. This means that our video crew required positions that were away from the audience. We needed to have very powerful high-definition telescopic lenses. These lenses would allow us to get in close to the musicians from far away.

How we used a Telescopic lens to get in close to Juan

In Juan’s case this is particularly important. Juan is royalty in the flamenco guitar world. The way his hands and fingers move across the fret board of his classical guitar was awe inspiring. We really wanted to capture that magic. Using the new Sony 100-400mm G Master series lens allowed us to zoom in close to his hands and make the viewer feel as though they were right on stage with him as he performed.

Our star engineer is Stewart Havill. Stew is the guy in our Sydney recording studio that has the most experience with videography. He operated the telescopic lens. Stew coupled the telescopic lens with a wide angle lens. This lens’ purpose was to capture the entire orchestra. We did this in 4k so that we could crop into sections if we need to do so. This wide angle was setup with a 4k recorder that allowed us to set and forget the camera as it recorded the whole performance.

The third and last camera was setup in the back of the auditorium looking down on to the stage. It had the eagle eye view. We were able to move between these spectacular angles quite seamlessly.

About the Performance

Importantly, there were two sections to this concert. The first was a small ensemble of seven musicians. Juan was the focal point and leader of the ensemble. Worthy of note, Juan had a marvellous flamenco dancer, Karen Lugo, that would take to the dance floor in front of the musicians. She had as much musical impact as the surrounding band members with her feet clapping away to the rhythm of the music. Her confidence and her musical grace was immense and, there’s no doubt, she certainly complimented Juan’s magical flamenco guitar work.

The second half of the concert saw the full symphony orchestra introduced into the musical equation. David Robertson conducted the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He brought them into synch with the latin group with absolute command and ease.

Thankfully the Sydney Opera House already has extremely high-end recording equipment. For an evening it became the superlative Sydney recording studio. French engineer, Lauren Serrano, organised capturing the audio captured by the orchestral microphones while the CSP team focused on the videography.

It is worth mentioning that the audio mixer and video editor. Lauren Serrano worked on the audio mixing of the recording. Luca, our video editor and sound engineer, worked on the final cut of the video at Crash Symphony Productions. Luca did a wonderful job and put in a significant effort. His skills in videography are completely remarkable. He used a lot of slow-fade cuts to show off the multiple angles, simultaneously. For these kinds of concerts this is a commonly used technique.

Contact us if you need a concert recorded

In conclusion, Juan’s performance at the Sydney Opera House was nothing less than dazzling, and as a result, we had a ball capturing the event. If you would like your concert videoed and recorded by our Sydney Recording studio contact us here. Alternatively, call us on 0408 300 402.

 

17 Oct

Bridge of Clay Audiobook Sydney Recording Studio

Bridge of Clay is the new novel by Australia author Markus Zusak. He earned international acclaim with his last novel, The Book Thief. Bridge of Clay is essentially autobiographical, however, elements are fictionalised. The audiobook was produced in our Sydney Recording Studio, Crash Symphony Productions. Our engineers worked closely with Markus (who narrated his novel) and the wonderful people at Pan Macmillan. It was a mighty effort by all people involved and this is the story of the recording process.

About Markus Zusak

The first thing that strikes you when you meet Markus Zusak is how young he is. When you think of an internationally famous and successful writer the literary-novice in me tends to think of some wise old sage. He looked the same age as me! Well, he is a bit older than me but not by much. The second thing that really stands out about Markus is how nice he is. He’s an absolute gentleman, incredibly polite, humble, and friendly. He has a great sense of humour which completely diminishes any star-stuck nerves you might feel prior to meeting him. Thirdly, he has a lot to say and it’s well thought-out, too. You can tell he thinks a lot and very deeply and this is certainly why he’s such a good writer.

Lastly, his attention to detail and work ethic is very much above average. It’s immediately apparent that this is a big part of why he’s been so successful. When he entered the recording studio booth he worked in there for hours and hours on end without exiting. Most narrators start getting tired and generally ‘over it’ after 4 hours. On some days Markus recorded for up to 8 hours with very minimal breaks.

The emotional attachment

We have recorded a lot of audiobooks in our Sydney recording studio. In fact, audiobooks and podcasts are becoming our specialty. Bridge of Clay was a very different experience to any other audiobook that we’ve record and here’s why.

The book was largely autobiography, but it was packaged in such a way that it wasn’t completely transparent. It was fictionalised. I can only guess that it was written in this way to allow Markus to fully explore the emotion of his story and possibly to protect the real people in his life. This is my guess. It is a really emotional story and it draws you in. There were times when you could hear the intense emotion welling up inside Markus as he narrated the story in our recording studio. This is a unique situation for our recording studio, and as a result, there was a higher sense of purpose attached to this audiobook production. We wanted the absolute best result for him and to honour the people in the story.

“The Beast”

Our editor, Adam Xycore, needs a shout out. His effort throughout this book was nothing short of epic and very much unsung. He didn’t get to meet Markus but was working on the project as the chapters were being recorded. Bridge of Clay was one of the longest audiobooks that we have recorded in our Sydney recording studio. It was so large, in fact, that Adam began referring to the book as ‘the beast’. He spent so much time surgically editing and scanning the audio to make sure that the quality of the audiobook was second to none.

Stew Havill had the job of recording the audiobook with Markus. Stew is a particularly gifted audio recording engineer. We’re extremely lucky to have him working in our Sydney recording studio. Stew has a very humorous and friendly personality that gelled very well with Markus. Basically, they got on with each other wonderfully.

The girls from Pan Macmillan deserve a warm mention. The audiobook was organised and overseen by Victoria Stilwell and Kate Faherty from Pan Macmillan. They were both very lovely to work with and extremely professional. Kate would come in to the recording studio daily to help produce the audiobook as it was being recorded. There’s no doubt that it would not be the polished success that it is without their direct involvement and oversight.

It was my job to proof the novel. Once a chapter had been recorded it would be sent to Adam. Then Adam would send the edited chapters to me. I would listen through the chapters and create a document indicating where I thought there could be quality improvements or if there was an error that I had discovered. Once all the chapters were done in this manner any re-recording was done by Markus and Stewart in the recording studio. Adam would then act on the ‘re-edit’ recommendations and then I would do a full re-listen. So, yep, we all listened to the book twice. We now know it well.

The Generosity of Mr Zusak!

As you can imagine, completing this audiobook was very cathartic for us all and particular Markus. This was the final stage in the process of releasing this huge novel. It took him almost 14 years to write and it was a huge relief for him when it was completed. Markus was also extremely generous to us all when he finished the book. He gave us all signed copies of the book and of his original international bestseller, The Book Thief. He also gave me a copy of the famous epic, The Odyssey by Homer. This epic features heavily in Bridge of Clay. Not only did he give these to us, in the recording studio, but he gave copies of his books to my mum! Mum’s a huge fan!

We recommend Bridge of Clay to everyone and hope you all enjoy the book as much as we enjoyed recording it!

Bridge of Clay

Stewart Havill with Markus Zusak. This photo was taken during the recording of the audiobook of Bridge of Clay. This is Markus’ new book release.

25 Jun

Recording a Song called Wounds

Recording a song can be a challenging process. As if the songwriting part wasn’t hard enough! Bringing life to a song in a recording studio is both a technical and creative journey. When the end is reached it is the best feeling that I, in my short life, can think of. But recording a song has some challenges and I would like to use a project that I’m working on at the moment as an example. The song is called Wounds. It’s been written for a while, and even recorded once before, but the new version is proving a little tricky. Read on and I’ll explain why!

Recording a Song

James Englund is an Australian Singer-Songwriter Producer.

Recording a Song can lead you down infinite pathways…. but you can only take one!

The main issue that a producer will come to find when they begin recording a song is that there are a million different ways that it can be recorded. You can choose different tempos and keys, choose a traditional acoustic arrangement or a modern sound. All the different choices that the producer makes along the way make a huge difference to how the song will be at the end of the production. And that’s the way people will come to know the tune. The way they hear it. So, you’re asking “what’s the problem?”.

Here’s my first major issue when it comes to recording a song that I’ve written; I usually default to recording it the way that I wrote it on a certain instrument. So, if I wrote the song on an acoustic guitar, it’s so much easier, intellectually and creatively, to just go right ahead and record it on an acoustic guitar and maybe add a rhythm section later. After doing hundreds of tracks like that for many clients over the years I have realised, more than most, how boring that approach really is. It may have worked well in the 1960s but now it just puts me to sleep.

One Approach to think about

The trick, for me, is finding an interesting instrument or effect or melodic device to make the song sound unique. That’s really hard to do because it means I need to think about it for a long time. Often, I look at the lyrics and wonder what I can do to bring out the emotion of the song. I search through my mind, and even other resources like Youtube, to find something that will be really unusual for the listener.

Alternatively, it helps to have a track that is inspirational and similar to where you want to go. For my song, Wounds, I love the sound of John Mayer’s Gravity. I’ve listen to the song a few times. I feel there are similarities in the message and vibe. I’ve analysed John’s song a few times and wondered what it was that made it so emotionally impacting for me.

As I mentioned above, what I really love is that he doesn’t just default to the boring old acoustic guitar (Not that I hate acoustic guitar. I mean I spend my life playing it live and for pleasure). Instead, he has an organ / pad sound that brings the song in and holds down the main chordal harmony. It’s a sound that is somewhat familiar to us all as listeners, but yet it has an element to it which is different. The electric guitar plays the main riff over the top. This brings us to our next idea, the riff!

Recording a song with a unique Riff

Some call it cliché but I’m a real sucker for a riff. I love putting this kind of content into my music and it seems to be a reoccurring theme, pardon the pun, in many popular songs. A melodic stamp, if you will. My song, Wounds, certainly has this element. However, I’ve written the song on an acoustic guitar and I immediately recorded the song on acoustic guitar. Straight away it felt very meat-and-potatos.

I think that this is why I looked for a reference track. To guide me away from creating another boring song that has a stock-standed arrangement. Doing that is a sure way to have your song go completely forgotten and unnoticed. However, over the years, it’s always been the hardest thing for an artist to do. Most new artists can be very afraid to do something with their music that is dangerously original. It scares them and makes them feel like they’re doing something wrong.

Let’s make this first post – part 1!

I have so much more to say about this topic. In the next post I’m going to look at perfectionism and how it is the great white shark that feeds on songs. I’ve learned (after recording many songs for other artists) that keeping the ball rolling, and not getting caught up on details, is the key to success! This has certainly been my problem when I’ve worked on my own songs. It’s as much about psychology as it is about music. Until next time, happy producing!