Tag Archives: voice over studio

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:

 

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

 

 

06 Mar

Voice-Over Recording Tips

Voice-Over – 6 Tips for Producing and Recording the Perfect Voice-Over

Read Your Voice-Over Script Aloud

It can be a paradox that what often looks great on paper doesn’t always sound great when spoken aloud. That’s why it’s very important to read a script out loud, preferably to someone else. Reading the Voice-Over script will give you a much better indication of the way certain words and phrases will come across when read by your Voice-Over artist. Difficult and overly complicated words and sentences can be edited and simplified making the end message more clear and concise and providing a better chance for your to communicate more effectively with your target audience.

Have an Experienced Voice-Over Producer on Hand

Assuming that your recording engineer will ‘produce’ your session can be a big mistake. Typically, recording engineers won’t get overly involved in the correctness or delivery of your Voice-Over script. They might do a good job of setting up the recording equipment however their skills in the area of  Voice-Over production may not be at a high level. They may also feel that production is not a part of their job. Even if you  have a producer for the project or plan to produce it yourself, try to choose a studio where the recording engineers have Voice-Over production experience and can assist you to achieve the very best result for your project.

Don’t Skimp on the Voice-Over ‘Talent’

Attempting to save money by using a cheap Voice-Over artist will inevitably backfire. The first issue is that if the performance is below standard you may alienate, rather than captivate your audience leading to less sales or a less than convincing message. The second issue is that, as time essentially relates to dollars, you may lose on 2 levels – 1. You could lose the valuable studio time that you’re paying for as an inexperienced Voice-Over artist may take significantly longer to achieve a useable take. 2. You may lose the money spent on the Voice-Over artist as you may ultimately have to replace them and run another session.

Save yourself the time, money and frustration. When selecting your voice talent you might seek the advice of your studio as they are familiar with the style and ability of the various artists that frequent the studio.

Voice-Over Recording Equipment

It makes sense that your recording can only sound as good as the equipment and engineer used to capture it. Presence, clarity, tone, warmth, depth, resonance and loudness are all contributing factors to the Voice-Over sound. Without a great room, high quality large diaphragm condenser microphone and preamplifier it is unlikely you’ll achieve a good enough sound. Conversely, if the equipment is top notch you it can help your Voice-Over artist to sound amazing. When presented to your audience, the resultant sound can literally make or break the communication of your intended message.  Always invest in a studio with the highest end equipment you can afford.

Voice-Over Editing

Not all Voice-Over Editors are the same. Achieving a seamless flow of spoken words is challenging. It takes an editor with an exceptional level of English literacy and fluency and a wealth of spoken work production experience to really ‘nail’ an edit. Selecting only the very best takes, de-breathing, de-essing, de-popping, fading correctly and placing the optimum length of pauses between words, sentences and phrases can also have a huge impact on your intended message.  Don’t entrust your edit to a 16 year old recording engineer who failed English or worse still find that it has been outsourced to Bangladesh in order to save a few dollars for the studio.

Voice-Over Mixing and Mastering

Mixing and mastering are art forms in the world of sound that should never be dismissed of underrated.  Achieving a great recording is half the battle won, mixing and mastering is where the results of the recording are put on turbo boost. High quality compressors can make the sound punchy and ‘in your face’ adding to the confidence of the delivery.  Professional de-noisers strip away unwanted background noise providing a clean, polished finish to the sound which improves the professionalism of the result. Many studios can’t afford these high end ‘plug-ins’ and hardware and so some or all of  these processes are often not even carried out.

Not many people are aware that so much process, effort and dedication can go into what appears at first glance to be a ‘simple’ Voice-Over recording however, like all things of quality upon closer inspection we can see that it is the application of significant knowledge, skill and equipment that delivers results that count.

Voice-over

21 Oct

Voice Over to Video

Voice OverThings to Keep In Mind When Adding Voice Over to a Video

Adding a voice over to a video may seem like a simple task but it requires precision. The task is actually as simple as laying an audio string over a video. But there are many details you need to consider before the video and the voice over recording can be merged. There are many areas where the final video can go wrong. There are times when the video and audio are not in sync. This is when the voices are heard before or after the characters actually talk. Let’s look at things to keep in mind when adding voice over to a video:

Create a Script for the Video

Before you begin filming the video or recording the Voice Over for it, you should come up with a script. The script should include the details of the Voice Over as well as the text you will be delivering. For short films, you need basic storyboarding skills. This will give you a hang of how the video will progress and how the Voice Over will complement it. Once you are done with the script, you can make the video. While making the video, you should ensure that the video is following the script. A slight change should be altered on the script as well. If not, you could face problems when recording the Voice Over.

Preview and See If the Script Fits

Once the video is complete, you should watch it a couple of times to see if it fits the script. A great way of making sure the video is in accordance with the script is to watch it a couple of times. While you are watching the video, have the script in hand. See if the video has parts which do not match the script. If yes, you can easily alter certain areas on the script. Also, recite the Voice Over material while the video plays and see if it matches the concept you have in mind. At times, the video turns out completely different from the script. You need to be sure the video and voice over turns out exactly the way you conceived the idea.

Recording the Voice Over

Recording the Voice Over is in actual a simple task. But there are areas you can make a mistake. To avoid any mistakes, consider playing the video while recording. Before you begin recording, be sure to go through the text multiple times so you are familiar with it. Once you are done with reading the text, you can begin recording the voice over. To make sure you are not exceeding or falling short of the proper tempo, have the video playing while you record.

Length of Video and Audio File

A rookie mistake when doing a Voice Over is not considering the length of the video and audio file. If the length of the video exceeds that of the audio or vice versa, the end result will not be as you had expected. There is a chance the video and audio will be misaligned. This is why you should see to it that the length of the video and audio is the same.

If you want to produce a great video, you should follow these tips. These tips will help you master the Voice Over skill in no time.

Sydney Recording Studios