Tag Archives: Recording Studio Sydney

17 Jun

Sydney Recording Studio Drum Tracking. Introduction to Drum Recording

Introduction to Drum Recording

These days there’s many ways to get the drum tracks for a musical project. There’s using sample drums or programming them via software like BFD or another drum emulation software package. However, there’s nothing like recording real drums for a song! In particular, the cymbals still sound so much better with a real drum recording. The art of recording drums is slowly becoming forgotten as people use emulated drums more often.
In this article we are going to talk about the kinds of microphones that we choose to use on drums in our Sydney Recording studio. Crash Symphony Productions has been recording drums for a long while. We’ve settled on what specific microphones can achieve a certain sound for the recordings. We’ll go over each part of the drum kit and why we choose to do what we do.

The Kick Drum

The kick drum is one of the most important parts of the kit for the listen. It holds down so much of the rhythm of the music. One challenge that we have faced with the kick drum has been reducing the amount of ‘bleed’ from the other parts of the kit. It’s ideal to listen to the kit and not have it diluted by loud cymbals and the snare. In order to achieve this we built a drum tunnel. This is a small aircraft hangar-looking contraption that goes over the microphones that are positioned on the outside of the kick. It isolates these microphones from the rest of the kit so when the engineer listens to the kick drum there won’t be intrusive noises from the snare, toms, and cymbals.
We use four microphones on the kick. Firstly, we choose a large diaphragm condenser like a Neumann U47 Fet. This has a certain fullness to the sound. We couple this closely with a Shure SM57 dynamic microphone. This picks up the midrange punch. We use an AKG D112 in the drum hole. This has a very specific sound and it is common on kick recordings. Lastly, we use a homemade Sub-microphone. It has been constructed out of an old high tom with a speaker built in.
These four microphones give us the pallet we need to mix and match and get the drum tone that’s right for the song. Sometimes we’ll completely discard certain microphones. Having these mics makes certain we’re covering our bases correctly.

The Snare Drum

On the snare we also gravitate towards four microphones in order to cover all possibilities. Firstly, we use a Neumann U87 placed in close proximity. Next to this microphone we have a small diaphragm condenser like an AKG 451 that has sufficient padding. When these two microphones are coupled closely together the phase can be adjusted to reduce certain unwanted frequencies in the snare drum. We always use the traditional Shure SM57 on the snare drum. Underneath the snare we use the Sennheiser 441 dynamic microphone. This is very common under a snare.
These microphones are historically very common in these positions. They give us the tonal breadth that we need to make sure we achieve the best tone available for the snare drum.

Hi-Hats

The hi-hats are close miked by two small diaphragm condenser microphones. We use a few different options both above and beneath the hi-hats. Firstly, the Neumann KM184s are an excellent choice. However, because those microphones don’t have padding they can be too loud for the preamp. The Sennheiser MK416 shotgun microphone is another great choice for hi-hats. They are very focussed microphones and the side rejection works well on the kit in order to keep the hi-hats focussed. Lastly, a good choice is the AKG 451 small diaphragm condenser microphone. These have great padding and are good for keeping the signal under control.

The Toms

There are many microphones that can be used for Toms. We have been using simple Sennheiser e604s on the high and mid toms. These clip on to the side of the tom and sound surprisingly good for what they are as microphones. Large diaphragm microphones like AKG 414s are great on toms, too. Switching them to the fig-8 position and padding them sufficiently will help to side-reject the other drums during the recording.
On the floor tom we use the traditional Sennheiser 421. This is a staple microphone for this position and always sounds great.

The Overhead microphones

For the overhead microphones we have a few different options. Firstly, a pair of vintage u47 tube microphones sounds beautiful. For a more crisp and clear sound the Neumann M149 pair is certainly very lovely. If a darker and more vintage sound is sort after then we would use the Coles 4038s ribbon microphones as overheads. These are very common ribbon microphones for overheads. They require some boosting with an equaliser but sound marvellous as overhead microphones.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article gives you a brief overview of what we use on our drum recordings and what options are available. You can learn more about our studio here https://www.crashsymphony.com.au/recording-studio/
If you have further questions about how we record in our Sydney Recording Studio please feel welcome to give us a call on 0408 300 402 or our email [email protected]

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

 

 

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.

 

28 Apr

Sydney Recording Studios: David Bowie Part I

Sydney Recording Studios:  David Bowie was born in South London’s Brixton neighborhood on January 8, 1947. His first hit was the song “Space Oddity” in 1969. The original pop chameleon, Bowie became a fantastical sci-fi character for his breakout Ziggy Stardust album. He later co-wrote “Fame” with Carlos Alomar and John Lennon, which became his first American No. 1 single in 1975. An accomplished actor, Bowie starred in The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Shortly after releasing his final album, Bowie died from cancer on January 10, 2016.

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07 Apr

Recording Studios Sydney: Paul McCartney Part III

Recording Studios Sydney: This era would have a lasting impact on rock ‘n’ roll.

During a decade full of political and social strife, the Beatles expressed the broader hopes of their contemporaries for peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll with a little rebellion sprinkled in, in the form of British “cheek.” McCartney would write more hits for the band than any other member. Songs like “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” and “Hello, Goodbye” would provide the soundtrack for a generation, with “Yesterday” still the most covered Beatles song of all time.

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17 Jul

Sydney Recording Studio: Steelpans

Sydney Recording Studio: Steel pans (steel drums) were created on the Caribbean island of Trinidad in the 1930s, but steel pan history can be traced back to the enslaved Africans who were brought to the islands during the 1700s.

They carried with them elements of their African culture including the playing of hand drums. These drums became the main percussion instruments in the annual Trinidadian carnival festivities.

Sydney Recording Studio: British ban hand drums

In 1877, the ruling British government banned the playing of drums in an effort to suppress aspects of Carnival which were considered offensive. Bamboo stamping tubes were used to replace the hand drums as they produced sounds comparable to the hand drum when they were pounded on the ground.

Sydney Recording Studio: Bamboo Drums

These tubes were played in ensembles called tamboo bamboo bands.

Non-traditional instruments like scrap metal, metal containers, graters and dustbins were also used in tamboo bamboo bands. However, by the 1930’s these metal instruments dominated the tamboo bamboo bands. The bamboo tubes were eventually abandoned and replaced by the metal instruments.

Sydney Recording Studio: Early Steel Drums

These early metal pan bands were a rustic combination of a wide variety of metallic containers and kitchen utensils which were struck with open hands, fists or sticks.

The metal pan players discovered that the raised areas of the metal containers made a different sound to those areas that were flat. Through experimentation, coincidence, trial and error, and ingenuity on the part of numerous innovators, the metal pan bands evolved into the steel pan family of instruments.

As the pan makers knowledge and technique improved, so did the sound of the instrument.

Sydney Recording Studio: Steel Pan Innovators

Several innovators throughout steel pan history have made significant contributions to the development of the instrument.

For example

Winston ‘Spree’ Simon – is credited with creating the first ‘melody pan’ which carried eight pitches. This was the first pan that could accommodate an entire melody.

Ellie Mannette – is credited with being the first to wrap the playing sticks with rubber (which softened the attack and produced a more refined tone).

He was also the first to sink the surface of a pan into its now characteristic concave shape (this allowed for more pitches to be placed on the playing surface).

Anthony Williams – is credited with inventing the ‘spider web pan’ which was designed in a cycle of fourths and fifths. (Pans with intervallic formulas are easier to tune and produce a higher quality sound). This layout is now the most popular and accepted design for tenor (lead) pans.

Mr. Williams is also credited with being one of the first in steel pan history to use large 55 gallon drums as starting material for the pans, a tradition that continues to this day. Maybe even seen in a Sydney Recording Studio.

Bertie Marshall – credited with inventing the double tenor pan. He also recognized the negative effects the sun had on steel pan and was the first to place canopies over the instruments when they were played outdoors.

This is the best steelpan I have ever seen on the screen of our Sydney Recording Studio

10 Jun

Recording Studio Sydney: Izotope RX Denoiser

One of the things I love about working with a state of the art recording studio sydney is that it has all of the latest amazing technology and plugins to get any recording sounding world class.  This has been particularly useful for my Sound Healing album since it was recorded through the air with a Zoom H4, the original recording was quite poor but with some EQ and most importantly Multi-Band compression, Ambience Recovery and Maximization the end result sounded fantastic.

Recording Studio Sydney: Denoising

The only slight recording studio sydney side effect of piling in a load of plugins to get the best sound is the noise load that accumulates as a new plugin is added.

The way to compensate for this noise load is to add a denoiser at the end of the chain.  In this case I used the Izotope RX3 Denoiser.

This tutorial video explains in detail how to use the Izotope RX3 Denoiser.  The only difference is that with our version the “Train” function is called “Learn” but the operation is the same.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH6wLKR77wM

I will also explain here how I did it at Crash Symphony recording studio sydney…

At the beginning of my Sound Healing recording I had some sections of audio that were just the background noise and the noise load from the plugins.  With the Izotope RX3 denoiser plugin open I simply selected a section that was just noise and clicked the “Learn” button on the RX3 denoiser.  Then I played with the “Thresholds” and “Reduction” controls until I heard the noise level reduce to a level I am happy with.  If you reduce the noise too much it can actually affect the actual audio quality so find a level that reduces the noise but doesn’t affect the audio.

So there you have it, the Izotope RX3 Denoiser is simple to use but is very useful for many different applications.

recording studio sydney denoising

03 Mar

Recording Studio Mistakes

Recording Studio Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Recording studio

So, you are now finally looking to take it to the next level and have decided to rent a professional recording studio to produce your album. However, as easy as recording in a professional studio may seem, it actually isn’t. There are many issues one has to tackle in order to produce a successful album. In this article, you will learn about a few common pitfalls made in the recording studio by beginners and how to avoid them to get the best value for your hard-earned money:

Showing Up Unrehearsed – Not Practicing = Waste of Time

Practice is the key to success and if you don’t practice, achieving success is next to impossible. A common mistake most singers make is showing up unrehearsed and without practicing the important details of a song. Oftentimes, the engineer isn’t aware of the song the person in front is singing and has to go through great trouble in order to finalize your track.

This means the end result might not be as impressive as you want. Therefore, in order to record high quality vocals and avoid wasting time and valuable money, it is imperative to practice before showing up in the studio. Not only will practicing help you point out important mistakes, but also give you ideas on how to improve the song.

Bringing Friends to the Recording Studio – Distraction

Another common mistake singers make is bringing their friends to the studio. While this may seem like a good idea, it actually isn’t. It is true that everyone needs a little motivation, but oftentimes when people show up with friends, they are unable to concentrate on singing and usually end up laughing at silly mistakes.

This may negatively impact the recording of your music and waste valuable money. Therefore, avoid bringing friends to the studio in order to completely concentrate on your music. The only person who should show up with you is your co-singer, otherwise your friends have no reason to be there, and they aren’t allowed, period. Remember, you are there to work and you must concentrate at all times.

Not Setting a Budget– Waste of Money

Most professional recording studios charge by the hour. And if you book enough studio time without having a quarter of the work done, it can be almost impossible to create your album or track. Not setting a budget will directly result in the failure of your entire album or song, as you won’t have any idea where each and every penny is going, ultimately having nothing to continue with your recording.

Therefore, it is imperative to set a budget in your mind and assess your needs and abilities before choosing to recording in a studio. Knowing how long each aspect of the recording will take and whether you have the money for it or not.

Last, but not the least, the biggest mistake people make is choosing a producer or engineer who is unfamiliar with your sound. A producer or engineer who is not interested and just doing his/her job won’t be able to create an impressive album for you. Therefore, choose a guy who you can trust and also a qualified engineer from the studio.

Sydney Recording Studios

28 Feb

Recording Studio Ready

How to Get Your Music ‘Recording Studio Ready’

Recording Studio

A recording studio can be an expensive and intimidating place. Unless you have experience regarding how to record and produce high quality vocals, the end result isn’t exactly going to be impressive. This is what makes it imperative for musicians and audiophiles to prepare for the recording studio beforehand and get their music ‘recording studio ready’. But, how can you do so? Well, let’s take a look at a few tips and find out:

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse THEN Recording Studio

Recording music is a skill in itself with its own set of nuances and issues that differ completely from a live performance. In order to get the best results and ensure your music is recording studio ready, it is imperative you rehearse as if you are recording in a professional studio. Take the time out to go through the lyrics beforehand and record your music either on your phone or on a sound recorder.

This way, you will be aware of the mistakes you are making and can fix them immediately before going to the studio. So, work the song from the ground up and assess all needs to make your song more attractive and catchy. For instance, consider how you would like the basic beat the drummer would be playing and what would be perfect fills for the transitional points.

Assess Your Needs and Abilities in the Recording Studio

Some aspects of preparing for the recording studio include assessing your needs and abilities. Ask yourself a few basic questions, like how many songs do you want to record? How long can you realistically work in a few hours? Will your arrangements for the song require a lot of overdubs? Do you want to record each track in one go or separately? How much time will you require between each song?

Answering these questions will help rule out studios that aren’t equipped for your project and will ensure the end result is up to par and doesn’t require much changes or tweaks which could end up costing you more. Apart from assessing your needs, it is imperative for you to consider recording a few songs beforehand that you want to emulate in the studio.

Invite the Recording Studio Engineer to a Rehearsal

To ensure that everything goes with the flow in the recording studio and that your music doesn’t have to suffer with changes or tweaks, invite the engineer to your rehearsal. Remember, a good recording requires 3 elements: a good performance, a good engineer, and good equipment. So, by working with the engineer beforehand, you can point out certain factors that may negatively impact your performance.

The engineer will be able to understand the idea of your sound and what you are going for and will give you important tips regarding the perfect microphone that suits your voice and which parts of your songs you need to work on. This way, you will know how to properly arrange your songs without having to pay to figure it out in the studio.

So, now that you are familiar with the abovementioned tips, preparing for the recording studio won’t be a problem. Additionally, you will be able to get more value for your studio time. So, remember to practice and keep your personal preferences in mind to produce a successful album or track.

08 Dec

Recording Studio and Home Limitations

The Limitations of a Home Recording Studio

A recording studio is a room equipped with instruments and recording apparatus. It is designed for the purpose of recording music, voiceovers, and other audio material. So, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of recording? Should you go for a professional or a simple home recording studio? Well, while home recording studios do have their benefits, they also have certain limitations. Sometimes these limits make it extremely difficult to produce quality soundtracks, music and voiceovers. To understand more, continue reading.

Understanding Home Recording Studios

As the name implies, a “home recording studio” is located in a domestic house. These types of recording studios can be classified into two smaller groups – pro and semi-pro. Of course, you can expect a simple studio with limited resources when it’s semi-pro. However, these studios are good enough for making experimental music and demos. Alternatively, the pro home recording studio has all the necessary equipment. Similar equipment to which you may find in a professional recording studio. These recording studios can produce quality music, voiceovers, and soundtracks.

Limitations

When it comes to recording studios, there is a range of unique designs for specific types of recording projects. For example, a drama or speech studio will focus their design on the best acoustics achievable. A music recording studio will have the best sound proofing. These studio focus on reverb and frequency response of space. A radio studio will have a more focused sound environment for the vocals of the presenters.

So, what category does a home recording studio fall in to? Is it a speech studio? A music studio? A radio studio? How do you know if it has all the necessary equipment for your project? Unfortunately, you can never know the necessary factors until you jump in to you project. Let’s take a look at a few important factors for recording studios:

Rooms

Did you know engineers use different studios for recording? So, how can you plan and create your entire project in one room when even professionals need to visit different studios to complete their project? In a home recording studio you may find just one room! in a professional studio you will find a control room, a live recording room and a production room. Therefore, if you choose a home recording studio, be prepared to be limited by space.

Equipment

Even though pro home recording studios have all the necessary equipment, how can you be sure it is of the quality you desire? Better quality equipment leads to better sounding records. In home recording studios, you will usually find low-end high quality equipment. In professional recording studios, you will find the latest quality gear and expensive instruments.

Rates

The average rate per hour for a home recording studio is $60/hr. A professional recording studio is around $75/hr or more. This may appear to be a benefit. Though, is it better to give that extra money for an overall better sound recording for your project, rather than being limited in terms of equipment and space?

In conclusion, it is safe to say that, although home recording studios do have a slight price advantage, it is better to go for professional recording studios that guarantee top quality.

Sydney Recording Studios