Great Rates, Excellent Sound, Great Vibe

 

I have compiled a list of a lot of the same questions that I have received over the years. Many of these questions will pertain to all styles of music in general, however some of them are concerning specialized musical styles, such as rock or bluegrass.
 
 
(1) How long will it take to record my demo, album, etc.??????
This is a difficult question to answer and depends a lot on different variables including, how many songs, how rehearsed are the songs, how many overdubs, punch ins etc.
We do 3 types of projects here at Echoes and I will try to break them down and explain how they are done.

Demos/Live Recording: This is by far the simplest type of sessions we 
work on. A client will simply come in and record their material
live with little or no overdubs or punch ins. Depending on the
quality of the instruments, musicians, and arrangements these
can possibly sound great. These are basically live studio recordings or as some people call them 'documentation' sessions. Mixing is just usually getting basic level settings in place. These projects on average take 1-2 days.

High Quality Demos/EP's: This takes the above approach but use's more time in setup (obtaining better tones) and more time in the actual recording process for a more professional sounding project. Punch's or complete re cutting of basic tracks are done, and usually scratch or guide vocals are done with the tracks and a final vocal is recorded afterward. Mixing is done with more attention to detail and automation is used to ensure all parts are audible and heard well. Also a possible remix/re master is done after the first session with minor tweaks to the overall sound to the project. This way the project sounds exactly how you want it to on all stereo systems. These projects on average can take anywhere from 2 to 6 days.
Professional Album Production : This is the most advanced type of recordings that we do. Major attention is played during the setup to ensure the optimum sound quality for each instrument. Basic tracks are done with different levels of scratch instruments. Sometimes drums are the only thing kept from the first recording, where as all other instruments were scratch tracks (meaning they are only temporary to the recording). These are then replaced one at a time. This way guarantees the best possible sound and performance for each instrument.
Sometimes the basic tracks are done live expect for vocals and extra overdubs, but these Live sessions take as much time as needed until the songs are as perfect as the client wishes. Sometimes click tracks are used for a solid timing and advanced editing options in the mix.
Mixing is done with full automation, effects, detail to dynamics, levels, etc. Editing is done to clean tracks or repair performance glitches. Several versions of the mix/master are done until the clients are happy with the final results. Each remix is less and less work as all the changes are made and finalized.
Sometimes a client will master here at Echoes or the sometimes choose a high end professional mastering facility to take their project.
These projects can range from a week to several weeks of recording time.
 
 
(2) Can I book a lot of time and then get my money back if I don't use it???
When you book time in advance we are securing that time for you and you only, this prevents anyone else from booking a session on your date. If you were to book 24 hours and only use 10, then we basically lose time and money that could otherwise have been booked to someone else. Therefore we cannot give refunds back on time unused, However we will issue a studio credit for any amount of time not used, this can be used at a later date. Due to our very affordable rates and no deposit needed policy this is the only way we can break even and make a profit.
 
 
(3) How is lunch/dinner breaks handled, do we have to pay for that time?!??!
NO, if you book a 8 hour session, we usually add a extra hour in for a dinner or lunch break for the band, this is 'off the clock' unless our studio staff is asked to work on something (such as a mix, recording, etc.) during this time while the band breaks, in this case it is a paid break, but only in this case. In most situations most clients prefer to work a straight eight hour session.
 
 
(4) When do I pay the studio and is there a deposit?
We require that a cashiers check, cash, or money order (sorry no personal checks) or prepaid credit cards using paypal to be processed at the start of the scheduled recording session. For example if you booked 24 hours on a weekend, the whole payment must be presented to us at the start of the session. At the current time there are no deposits required, however we ask that you contact us ASAP if there is a emergency or rescheduling, we reserve the right to charge a non refundable deposit for anyone who frequently cancels. NO CD's, Rough mixes, or any media is released until payment is paid on all sessions.
 
 
(5) Do you master there? When do I get my finished CD?
We do offer mastering here, or you have the option to have it mastered elsewhere, we can provide you with a rough CD mix if you choose the later, if you choose to master here you will receive the final CD once the mastering is finished.
 
 
(6) I just recorded my album, and after listening to it for a few weeks I want to change something, is this possible to change and how hard is it?
Usually 95% of our clients choose to come back and do a quick 'tweak' session on their final mixes and masters. Sometimes this is very simple things like adding more or less bass, raising or lowering vocals a db, or even re overdubbing/replacing something. Because we record and mix on a Digital Audio Workstation we can save our mixes and reload them in a matter of seconds and change something. Our best results come from taking our first set of final mixes and having the clients reference them on a lot of audio systems in the real world. Then the client after making observations will let us know if anything needs slightly adjusted, we call this the Version 2.0 mix, and this is usually what is the final product. Many times we can do this without even having the client come in, and then mail the final cd off to the client or have them pick them up. When you go into a professional mastering studio they can nail everything in one shot, we find the 'real world referencing' is the best way to achieve similar results. However if you can afford professional mastering and want the best possible end product, we highly recommend it.
 
 
(7) How do I protect my songs and copyright them???
The Library Congress has a very well informative web site that issues all copyrighting questions and concerns, you can also print out whatever forms you will need and mail them a check with the finished cdr
 
 
(8) I see a few studios offer free setup time? Why doesn't yours?
Most studios that offer free setup time have a much larger hourly price, therefore what little you save in setting up you are going to be paying for later on. Also some of those studios rush through the setup process and then worry about trying to fix the sounds later 'in the mix', this takes extra time and can be avoided with a good setup. We offer several things to make a setup go more smoothly and faster. We have a 7 piece Mapex studio drum set that anyone can use, several guitar ampfliers, keyboards, etc.
 
 
(9) Can my band record everything live at once to either save time or preserve a solid track?
There is no problem with setting everything up to record everyone at once, including vocals. If your doing a rough demo this shouldn't be a problem., However, if your working on something with plans of a high quality level a lot of precautions in setup must be taken to obtain a great sound. Usually the lead vocalist would have to be isolated in a separate room away from all the other instruments, as well as all guitar cabinets would need be isolated as well. Since all of the tracks are going to be' final tracks' we need to make sure everything sounds at it's best quality when tracking this way and reduce as much of audio bleed over as possible. Most bands that record here will usually use 'scratch vocals' also known as a 'guide vocal' as a reference in the headphones for the basic tracking, however these will be replaced with the final vocals before mixing. The usual rule of thumb is anything can be easily punched in or replaced on the backing tracks expect drums. These need to be solid. A drum punch in is very difficult and almost impossible if you are not playing against a click track. The time it takes to redo a track compared to fixing or punching a drum track can be quite significant. It is usually in the best interest of the band to re cut the basic track if there are any issues at all with the drums.
 
(10) Should I record on Analog or Digital or both?
This is and is still subject to a great debate by many musicians and engineers. Generally, a large amount of clients prefer to use all digital recording/editing/mixing here at Echoes for various reasons. Mainly due to the sound quality, economics, and availability of options in the digital format. However, there are some benefits to using Analog for tracking your mixes and then transferring them into digital for editing and mixing. There is a definite character of analog tape, of which warmth and punchier are two common reasons of analog tape. There are some, however that say that these can be achieved in Digital formats as well without the time consuming Reel to Reel setup and tracking.
I feel personally that Analog and Digital both offer Pros and Cons. I would not recommend to anyone though to edit and mix in analog due to the tremendous options and ease in digital. However tracking in analog and then transferring to digital is a good technique that has been used to great success. My best view on Analog and digital is the following. Imagine digital as a PURE, CLEAN, recording device. What goes in comes out, there is nothing added nor subtracted to the input sound source. Analog is like a filter that is applied over all the music, adding warmth and punch with a certain 'feel' that would not be there in digital. However Analog does have a noise floor to it that needs to be cleaned up and reduced in mixing, as well as the dynamic range and high end may not be as high as digital. Also Analog takes much longer to track in then digital due to the format. If you plan on tracking with analog you should plan on spending a lot more in your recording budget. Time wise plan on adding roughly a quarter to the total time of recording. And a few hours for the transfer into digital. Also remember Analog tape is around $70.00 a Reel for 17 minutes at 30 IPS. Again this is a reason many bands choose digital. A full album could easily take up over $400.00 in Reel to Reel tape. Feel free to ask me any questions about Digital and Analog, I can also play you some samples in the studio of both formats with the same recorded source for A/B comparisons.
 
(11) What is the best advice for clients to prepare for entering the studio.
Practice, Practice, Practice!!!!! The more rehearsed a client(s) are the more smoothly and professional the recording will sound. A recording studio can only fix so many things, and the better the recorded material is the easier it will be to achieve a professional sound. A lot of issues in mixing falls back to the arrangement of the songs and these issues should be addressed before the client(s) enter the studio. Client(s) if they are not used to listening to headphones should start getting familiar with the sound of them before they come into the studio if they have a set or access to one. Sometimes people have a difficult time getting used to a headphone environment, and getting your ears preconditioned for headphones beforehand seems to work well for a client(s) not normally accustomed to them.
Drummers if they are planning on using our drum kit, should bring extra sticks, and any extra things they wish to add, such as a favorite snare drum, cymbals, bass pedals, etc. Drummers may mix and match with our kit as much as they want, but please make sure you have new heads on snare drums that may be brought in. Drummers may rearrange and adjust our drums in any manner they wish to more suit their comfort level and playing styles. If Drummers wish to use their own kit please make sure that all the drums have brand new heads, or that they are less then a few weeks old, and that they are no dents, dimples, or worn through areas on the drum heads. New drumheads are a critical key in order for us to achieve a professional drum sound. We are strictly limited in what we can do with worn/old heads, these may sound passable in a live situation, but in a studio under the scrutiny of microphones, they will usually stand out very badly.
Guitars and Bass Players should bring extra strings, picks, and a spare cable or two. Make sure your instrument is free of noisy volume and tone pots, and that all instrument jacks are solid and in good working order. If you have a lower end model guitar or bass such as a fender squire or similar model, please consider borrowing or renting a better instrument, More high end instruments have better wiring, pickups, and a overall more professional sound. Amplifiers should be in good working order as well, no loose connections, ground hums, or any other issues.
 
(12) Should I use my Electric Guitar/Bass amp or go direct and use the Line 6 gear you have?
This is a common questions we are asked. There is nothing wrong with bringing in a good quality professional sounding amplifier, Size is irrelevant as long as it sounds good. Some of the best killer guitar tones have came from small 2 X 12 setups. Smaller size combo or practice amps generally do not record well and we usually don't recommend these for the studio. Bass amplifiers are very difficult to record in the studio without spending a long time in getting a good sound out of them. Bass Amps push a lot of air, and anything such as this is very tricky to work with but not impossible. Normally we usually record Bass direct into the Line 6 due to this, especially with the time that is involved. If you do have a really good Bass amp and the sound of that is very integral to your personal tone then by all means bring it in. With the Line 6 we are able to emulate thousands of Bass Amplifier and Cabinet setups, matching the original source.
 
(13) What is the Guitar Stacking technique and why or why not should I do that!
In Rock music and any other contemporary styles, there is a need for guitars to have a very thick 'larger then life' sound to them. There has been many techniques employed over the years to achieve this, however we find that the Guitar Stack technique seems to work well for us, and we have had much success with it over the years. Guitar stacking works primarily only with distorted rhythm guitars. Lead and clean tones become cluttered under this technique, but distorted tracks really come to life with this technique. The process to do this is very simple and easy, and does not take much extra time considering the sound improvement that is achieved. A guitar track is first laid down, and then extra tracks (usually at least 2 more) are added for additional thickness and texture. Each extra guitar tone is run through a different style of amp or guitar setting (The Line 6 Pod works great for this), by doing this we are adding different frequency spectrums and tones to the original track. Each track is played identically to the original one. Thus the final result if done correctly does not sound like 3 guitar players, but one very powerfully and thick guitar. A good analogy of this would be to imagine a paint brush stroke going across a wall one time, then when you go across it again you fill more space and cover the wall more. When a guitarist plays the rhythm track again he is doing things a miniscule of a fraction different, but this is part of what creates this technique, along with the different tonal textures. If one would just play the same amp setting over and over it becomes muddy and overlaps frequency's. We can explain this more and help you with this technique in the studio.
 
(14) What are the benefits of recording vocals as a 'scratch or guide track' and adding the final vocals later.
This is a tried and true technique that many studios and producers have been using for decades with considerable success. For example when a group ensemble comes into the studio to record, a band that has a guitar, bass, drummer and lead singer, with occasional background vocals, this is how this technique would work. The group would all be setup to record together but final vocals would not be recorded along with the basic tracks, only a guide vocal so that the band can follow along and all know their places. After all the instruments are complete the singer can concentrate solely on the vocals without worrying about messing up along with the basic tracks, and can even take a line of the song at a time, or do alternate vocal takes, picking the best or mixing and matching takes together to form one composite track. Those are the performance benefits of this, on the technical end you will achieve a much higher quality vocal recording. The vocals will be isolated from any instrument bleed and the high quality microphones will be able to pick up all nuances in the voice. Also the singer will hear a more finished recording instead of a rough tracking mix. This can inspire the singer to achieve a greater performance because they are singing against more of a finished product. Backing vocals can be added against the lead vocal separately, to ensure that all phrasing and pitch is correct with the lead vocal, this is very hard to do in a all live situation.