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Thread: Recording Studios? Help!

  1. #1
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    Recording Studios? Help!

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    Ok everyone, I have a question for anyone with experience. I'm almost finished writing my album. (BTW, I rap and produce). Now, what I do is complete the instrumental and record on my own in my little set up, but it's not good enough quality to sell to anyone. This will be my second release and I want to learn from my past mistakes, so I want to do it right this time.

    I usually record the full song and do edits and everything, but I'm not happy with the vocal quality (clarity) or the completed mix. I've been at it for a few years now, but my room acoustics and my one bad ear and lack of expert knowlege is holding back the mixes.

    What I want to do is go to a professional studio and record my vocals there and have an engineer mix the songs down. What I'm asking is if I can just show up there (to a typical studio, I know they vary) with a bunch of beats and record my vocals and have them mix it? I'll be bringing the completed sessions, so they can mess with each individual track. (Whats the most universal format?)

    I'm also wondering if anyone knows of a decent studio in the eastern PA area. And, although I know they would all vary in price, what would be the "typical" proce for a 15 track album to be recorded and mixed (the music is all done- just needs some tweaking)?

    Sorry it's so long, but I'm finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. This project is very close to me and it's taken almost three years to complete. I don't want to mess this up by taking shortcuts.

    Any help would be massively appreciated. I respect the opinions of people on here, so previous experiences would be great. If you work at a studio and I came in and asked you this, what would you say?

    Thank you all very much,

    Springfield

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    I've done a fair amount of rap in the past, almost identical to the situation you've described. I'll tell you what *I'D* want.

    1.) 24 bit/44.1 audio renderings (.wav or .aif) of each individual element--in other words, seperate channels not mixed down so I can actually *MIX* the songs.

    2.) A clear idea of what you expect as an artist so I have ideas to work with to guide the mix.

    3.) Well rehearsed vocals and lyrics already written (you'd be surprised how many thousands of dollars I've been paid to sit and watch guys try to come up with lyrics in the studio).

    If you can bring that to the table you should do well, provided you find a good engineer and studio that understands hip hop.

    Expect to spend about 1-3 hours laying your vocals per track, and about 3-5 hours mix time (minimum) for the project. After that you will want to get it mastered.... if you want to do it right contact Massive Mastering (massivemastering.com) and have John Scrip do it for you. That's where I have my stuff mastered at.

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    Thanks Cloneboy. I can provide everything you've listed, so I think I'm in good shape. The fact that I went ahead and recorded each track on my own and listened to them all hundreds of times, I've memorized everything and I have a crystal clear image in my head of my vision for the project.

    The only question about what you said is that I would need 24 bit recordings for the instrumental tracks. That's a problem, because I've recorded them in 16 bit. If I just resave them as 24 bit, will that help or would I need to go back and redo everything from scratch? If I do have to redo everything, I think I'm covered because I kept some pretty thorough logs of my sessions, but it would be time consuming.


    Another question for you all: Where is a good place to look online for recording studios in a particular area? I googled, yahoo'd and all that, but I only kept getting sent around in circles with no real info. Any one site that will list them by area? Any recommendations for a studio (relatively inexpensive) in the eastern PA area?

    Thanks again,
    -Springfield

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    if you're happy with the performance of your 16 bit work, you should be fine. I didn't have a ad/da converter for a long time that was more than 16, and it sounded fine.

    my only advice for finding a studio would be to ask some other locals; some local stations that play some local music. Be sure to research rather fully whoever you do go with.
    blueroomrecording
    mics-->pres-->ada-->computer-->ada-->monitors

    (that is a terrible joke, I am well aware)

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    If the album is as long in the making as you've stated personally I'd go back and re-record *most* of the tracks at 24/44.1; basically the easy, no-brainer type tracks such as sequenced softsynths and other fairly easy to do things.

    The rest I'd leave at 16 bit.

    Make sure your sessions are mixed at 24 bit though. Have the engineer convert the 16's to 24's.

    Just my opinion though. As long as the mix is 24 bit and the 16 bit stuff you did was really clean I don't foresee major problems if the engineer is worth a damn.

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    Personally, I would just pick the studio you are most comfortable with, set up a meeting, and ask them If you did the stuff in a program like Reason, or something similar, bring the program with you. It would be much better to have access to as much original stuff, software instruments especially as were used rather than being limited to renderings. If you really want someone to mix it for you, give them some options. You may find that with someone else's input and experience that you guys end up working together to change some things in a way that you really like. If you just bring rendered files, that will somewhat limit what the mix capabilities are.

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    dog, its gonna cost you so much, its gonna take longer than you think, id say only pay a studio to lay it if you absolutely cant do it yourself, and just pay somebody to master it...might as well put that money into having your own shit that you can continue to make music on rather than giving to somebody else

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    I sequence everything in ACID Pro 4.0. And needless to say, it's not the most universal software around. I'll have to do as you say and ask the engineers at select studios myself. I do appreciate your time and if there's any other tips you may have from experience, I'll run with that too.

    -Springfield

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    Quote Originally Posted by Altaire
    dog, its gonna cost you so much, its gonna take longer than you think, id say only pay a studio to lay it if you absolutely cant do it yourself, and just pay somebody to master it...might as well put that money into having your own shit that you can continue to make music on rather than giving to somebody else
    Well I'm not gonna say that money's not an issue as it is, but the vocal recording's I've done just don't come close to how I'd like them to sound. My room is just too bad acoustically. And I'm certainly not a professional engineer and I certainly don't have all the best equipment. I thought of just doing vocals in the studio and bringing them back to mix them myself, but I figured if I was gonna do that, I might as well go the whole 9 yards. Mastering is also going to get done.

    To be honest, I don't care how long it takes. It's been nearly 3 years so far, so whats a few more months. I also plan on sitting in on the mixing sessions, so my word is the final word. I would never just give my project to anyone to do it their way. My money= My vision... unless the engineer can really come up with some great ideas, which I hope he/she does.

    -Springfield

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    16 bit is fine, there's no need to re-record your tracks at 24 bit. It's all going back to 16 bit anyway on the CD. Redoing it all at 24 bit is just overkill at this point in your process and will delay your project for no good reason.

    That said, in the future record at 24 bit if possible.

    I would suggest going into the studio with your rough tracks and recording your vocals in a session or two. Then take those tracks back home with you, listen to them a lot, edit or adjust them if you feel you need to, and only then go back to the studio and mix the whole project.

    ProTools is the most universal format at commercial studios. That and tape.

    You are exactly right in your approach regarding having your vocals and the mix done at a commercial studio by pros. You will end up way ahead by doing that. Just make sure you like the mixes coming out of that studio, and get the engineer that did those mixes. You really should approach it from the angle of finding an engineer whose work you like, and then take it from there. So listen to a lot of albums and when you hear an album that sounds the way you want yours to, see if you can get that engineer. Or contact that engineer and if he can't do it, see if you can get a recommendation for someone else good. Don't just go to the local studio and expect it to be right, you've got to do some research (or get very lucky).

    Most of the big-time rap I hear on the big stations here in LA is mixed very well and sounds great. However, I'm working on a project where we wanted to use some rap on the soundtrack of lesser known rappers (no money in the budget). So the director put an ad in the film music network and got tons of CD's. The problem is, while he liked a lot of the music, he felt that the mixes were so bad on most of them that the tracks were totally unusable. He's not a musician but even he was able to hear what was wrong with the mixes, they were that bad. He eventually decided not to use any rap music, for other reasons, but I know he was disappointed in what he heard. He liked a lot of the music, but the final product was so amateurish in many cases that the tracks couldn't be used.

    So again, you are *totally* correct in wanting to go to a pro studio to have your music mixed. Just make sure it's a good place.

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