So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

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Bear
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So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by Bear » Mon Dec 20, 2004 2:31 am

I can't possibly write everything I'd like to in one post, so I'm just gonna touch on a couple little things ...

I've been home recording for some time now. Maybe three years of taking it "seriously." I have four mics (a Rode Nt1 being the most pricey), one preamp (Art TPS), two compressors (composer pro, RNC), and a digital tracker. Modest, some might say. A pile of metallic turds might be someone else's take. Either way, it's what I know.

Last year, I recorded, mixed and played some instruments on a friend's record (Astronautilis is his name). It's doing pretty well, apparently, and it, along with ridiculous amounts of touring (9 months straight) got him signed to a label here in Florida. We've started working on the next record, and this time it's in a fancy studio with lots of nice gear (and I was the sole engineer there ... they showed us around, handed us the keys and more or less said "call us before you leave" ... crazy). Nuemanns, Blues, Manleys, 1176s, Avalons, Distressors ... the stuff I've always heard about but never been anywhere near. After doing a few sessions down there, I realized a few things ...

It was both amazing and not a big deal. The gear was a definite cut above anything I've ever laid hands on, but something I came to realize is that it's just gear. I know that sounds like sacrilege to some, but (cheesy analogy on the way): It's like cars. Some people love cars. They love all the bells and whistles, the models that've come out, the differences in speed or appearance, etc. People into cars can talk and debate the diferences all day long. But when you get right down to it, it's still a fucking car, and the point is for it to get you from point A to point B. Now, if you're in a nice car, you get there faster, with a smoother ride, and it's generally more pleasant. But an average car gets you there too. You just might have more problems with the steering, and the breaks kinda suck. But the point isn't so much what you ride around in. The point is where you're going, and why you're going there.

The nicer mics and pres gave me better sounds much faster, and they were a blast to use, but they were still mics. They do the same thing my mics do - record sounds. They might do a better job, but whatever. Same deal.

Part of me was nervous before going into this. I record all my music in a toolshed and a friend's bedroom. Bathrooms are our vocal booths and garages are our chambers. I wondered if working in a really nice space with tons of great gear would make it seem lesser. But it didn't. If anything, I love it that much more. There's something about making music in these little nooks and crannies of our everyday lives that make them special, something that can't be recreated anywhere else. The extra sounds that sneak into tracks because people are living their lives just outside your walls, the familiar sounds of your house or your neighborhood ... though it can be frustrating at times, especially if some jack-ass is using a leafblower near the window and he doesn't even have any goddamn leaves in his yard, but it's great stuff. I think there's definitely something to the "vibes" people always talk about.

Now, I'm not saying I didn't appreciate this experience and don't look forward to working on it more. It's definitely fun to use nice equipment (and recording drums with a lot of space and good gear is a fucking blast), and I'm not at all undermining what professional engineers do, nor am I saying that studios aren't worth the money or that they aren't all they're cracked up to be. What I'm trying to say, in a very longwinded manner, is that gear, even nice gear, is still just a tool. And you can make records on the gear you have now, regardless of how nice it is. Nicer gear will give you better sounds, but not better songs, and not better music, and it won't give you any more purpose, and you can make something great with the gear you've got sitting in some odd little room in your house. Waiting for new mics to make you sounds better is like waiting until you buy a newer, prettier car to grocery shopping - fucking stupid. Just go ahead and do it.

I'll type more tomorrow. I'm only writing this because I can't sleep again. Insomnia for life, bitches.
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by Cappy*tan » Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:40 am

Congratulations man. :) I guess it's kinda like me doing work for the rich folks around here. We've got some folks we work for, a family about 50 miles from here. Their two cars are a Mercedes and a Porsche. Their daughter, when she turned 16, got a BMW. I have a Dodge Ram. heh My Dad's got a 1988 Ford Ranger with over 200,000 miles on it. lol But I can still drive up to their place, drinking my coffee and eating my breakfast on the way up. And I'm not afraid to drive my truck in the rain or on gravel or spill any coffee on my trusty vinyl seats. heh I think you're right about the gear, you know. A microphone still is just a microphone when you get down to it. My truck, in the past year, has taken me to Iowa and back twice (1500 miles round trip), to Virginia once (again, 1500 miles round trip), to Arkansas, southwestern Missouri, and almost monthly trips up to Springfield, IL and the surrounding area. Never once has it stopped, broken down, etc. So it does it's job just fine, just like a Mercedes would. heh Something like that. lol And my cheap microphones still record my guitar and voice. Despite almost constant pleas from my family for them not to. lol ;) Anyway, I'm getting to the point of rambling. Congratulations again. :)

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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by joeysimms » Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:53 am

*claps nads furiously*
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by joelpatterson » Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:53 am

It's all a question of what "matters." People who are naive will say a great mic "matters," or a great pre "matters." Great songs and performances matter, but the only thing that matters in the end is the last few microscopic adjustments done to the mix. It's almost invisible, these things, but it'll be what makes a song addictive and lasting. It's what lends a song meaning in a way that you can't even really describe.
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by nlmd311 » Mon Dec 20, 2004 7:38 am

you are indeed, "Wangtacular"! Great post.
I think joelp is right in saying that there are a little microscopic adjustments that can be made come mixdown that make an impact, but... yeah. Either way. As long as the mic is recording the signal in the first place and you have something come mix time, you are in better shape than many.

Awesome.

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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by Rigsby » Mon Dec 20, 2004 7:45 am

Congrats bear.

Your last comment is so right. A guy i used to know when i was still digi-eight-tracking had all this gear and he'd be like 'i'm going to really make some music when i've got this new whatsit and then i'll need a blahblah and a zingle and then i can start getting things down' and then he'd ask me how i managed to get such inventive beats, and i was biting my lip, trying not to say, 'y'know, i just spend a lot of time doing it, put the work in, you're an idiot, start recording, i've got one mic and an eight-track and you're sitting here with all this stuff gathering dust and wondering how i do my beats when it's clear that the only way something happens is if you do it'. Clearly i just used to smile and say very little but i found it really bizarre, i'd go round his house and we'd sit there looking at his stuff just sitting there.

Anyway, have a ball!
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by MichaelAlan » Mon Dec 20, 2004 7:50 am

Cappy*tan wrote:Congratulations man. :) I guess it's kinda like me doing work for the rich folks around here. We've got some folks we work for, a family about 50 miles from here. Their two cars are a Mercedes and a Porsche. Their daughter, when she turned 16, got a BMW. I have a Dodge Ram. heh My Dad's got a 1988 Ford Ranger with over 200,000 miles on it. lol But I can still drive up to their place, drinking my coffee and eating my breakfast on the way up. And I'm not afraid to drive my truck in the rain or on gravel or spill any coffee on my trusty vinyl seats. heh I think you're right about the gear, you know. A microphone still is just a microphone when you get down to it. My truck, in the past year, has taken me to Iowa and back twice (1500 miles round trip), to Virginia once (again, 1500 miles round trip), to Arkansas, southwestern Missouri, and almost monthly trips up to Springfield, IL and the surrounding area. Never once has it stopped, broken down, etc. So it does it's job just fine, just like a Mercedes would. heh Something like that. lol And my cheap microphones still record my guitar and voice. Despite almost constant pleas from my family for them not to. lol ;) Anyway, I'm getting to the point of rambling. Congratulations again. :)

Sorry this may be OT, but man, do you ever get the feeling rich people LOVE to have you around doin crap for them? Sometimes even if it doesn;t NEED to be done? Like it reassures them of their position? I clean carpets and sometimes windows for my in-laws cleaning company, and we have to go into the richest people in town's houses. Sometimes I can throw a number out there like, "$800 to clean this Kmart rug ma'am!" and they totally go for it. And they are often pretty nice, but sometimes I just get the vibe (when they stand there and watch me) that they're thinking..."Ya punk...wash my windows.."


Anyway, thats awesome you got to go in and be left alone in a nice studio with a friend making music. Good deal.

Mike

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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by Cappy*tan » Mon Dec 20, 2004 8:17 am

Mike,
Yeah, I get that feeling sometimes. But I don't really care. If I can make them happy by taking their money....;) 99% of the time though they're generally nice people. I don't tolerate people standing over me while I'm working, though. I try to be really nice and explain to them well, if you know how to do this better than I do why'd you hire me to begin with? lol But that's only happened once or twice in 8 years, so I can't complain about that. :D Mostly I get treated pretty well.

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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by bobbydj » Mon Dec 20, 2004 8:41 am

Bear wrote: The extra sounds that sneak into tracks because people are living their lives just outside your walls, the familiar sounds of your house or your neighborhood ... though it can be frustrating at times, especially if some jack-ass is using a leafblower near the window and he doesn't even have any goddamn leaves in his yard, but it's great stuff.
Oh fuck - haha. Weird. I had my first leaf blower incident only the other week. I had to flat sit for a colleague - she went shooting leopards with dart guns in Namibia. Wtf. She has two cats I had to look after. She lives a long way awya in a different city, and her flat rules. Big rooms, high ceilings. So cos I was there for 2 weeks I took the acoustic, a PZM and the 424. Fucking leaf blower kicked in one Sunday morning. Shit - those fuckers're really loud!! I'd never seen one before. And this divvy went on for I dunno, the best part of 2 hours. In the middle of when I was recording. Well, I was getting some good stuff down so I didn't really want to stop. But shit - leaf blowing. Who dreamt that one up??
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by cgarges » Mon Dec 20, 2004 9:48 am

I don't know. Maybe it's just that I make LOTS of records per year, but I love the security of being in a great space that was designed for recording music. I love knowing that I have choices in gear, aside from what I own. I love knowing that I generally have more choices in sonic spaces (assuming the studio is designed with such choices in mind). I love knowing that when I leave, what I heard in the control room is going to be pretty close to what I hear outside the building. (That's a big one for me.) I love it even more when there's a competent staff that can help me out in a bind or offer some sort of perspective that I might not see and leads me to learn something new. I love it when there's a separate space from the recording environment that allows someone to go clear their head when they need to. I love a well-designed pachbay layout that lets me do anything I need to routing-wise without having to get a headache trying to figure it out. I love the dim, indirect lighting that leads to a relaxed and creative atmosphere. I love the silence or a control room with a separate machine room. I love the smell of tape and high-end gear heating up (you should feel this new Tube Tech MMC-1!). Even more, I love the smell of a studio that's been around for a long time. There's something really great and magical about a studio with a good lineage and anyone who's ever been in one knows right off the bat when they walk in the door that cool stuff has gone on there.

But I've made records in warehouses and above fish markets, too.

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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by Rigsby » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:23 am

I haven't been in a 'real' studio for a number of years now, except for college rooms (which doesn't really count to me, my school in mind), i'll be going to one in the new year, playing glockenspiel and some other percussion with a singer/songwriter/pianist and a small group, and Chris, you've just made me really excited at the thought now.
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by oobedoob » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:45 am

Bear wrote: The nicer mics and pres gave me better sounds much faster, and they were a blast to use, but they were still mics. They do the same thing my mics do - record sounds. They might do a better job, but whatever. Same deal.
Sometimes faster is the key. If a nicer mic can save an artist a few takes here and there, it can speed up the making of a record considerably. And make the performer much happier about the whole record. You should talk to a jingle studio engineer and ask them how long it should take to get drum sounds....

Point taken on the rest of your post though. Most people here are used to making do with what they have, and some have made brilliant records that are/arenot hifi/expensive sounding. Use what you have until you can't stand the standing waves (or bad off-axis response, or ratty reverb, or whatever your limitation) anymore.....
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by Bear » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:51 am

bobbydj wrote:
Bear wrote: The extra sounds that sneak into tracks because people are living their lives just outside your walls, the familiar sounds of your house or your neighborhood ... though it can be frustrating at times, especially if some jack-ass is using a leafblower near the window and he doesn't even have any goddamn leaves in his yard, but it's great stuff.
Oh fuck - haha. Weird. I had my first leaf blower incident only the other week. I had to flat sit for a colleague - she went shooting leopards with dart guns in Namibia. Wtf. She has two cats I had to look after. She lives a long way awya in a different city, and her flat rules. Big rooms, high ceilings. So cos I was there for 2 weeks I took the acoustic, a PZM and the 424. Fucking leaf blower kicked in one Sunday morning. Shit - those fuckers're really loud!! I'd never seen one before. And this divvy went on for I dunno, the best part of 2 hours. In the middle of when I was recording. Well, I was getting some good stuff down so I didn't really want to stop. But shit - leaf blowing. Who dreamt that one up??
Yeah. They're loud as hell. And the guy near my house that uses it never has any leaves to blow. But then again, he actually sweeps his lawn after he mows it. Which he does daily. This would all be funny and charming were he not an asshole.
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by Bear » Mon Dec 20, 2004 12:06 pm

cgarges wrote:I don't know. Maybe it's just that I make LOTS of records per year, but I love the security of being in a great space that was designed for recording music. I love knowing that I have choices in gear, aside from what I own. I love knowing that I generally have more choices in sonic spaces (assuming the studio is designed with such choices in mind). I love knowing that when I leave, what I heard in the control room is going to be pretty close to what I hear outside the building. (That's a big one for me.) I love it even more when there's a competent staff that can help me out in a bind or offer some sort of perspective that I might not see and leads me to learn something new. I love it when there's a separate space from the recording environment that allows someone to go clear their head when they need to. I love a well-designed pachbay layout that lets me do anything I need to routing-wise without having to get a headache trying to figure it out. I love the dim, indirect lighting that leads to a relaxed and creative atmosphere. I love the silence or a control room with a separate machine room. I love the smell of tape and high-end gear heating up (you should feel this new Tube Tech MMC-1!). Even more, I love the smell of a studio that's been around for a long time. There's something really great and magical about a studio with a good lineage and anyone who's ever been in one knows right off the bat when they walk in the door that cool stuff has gone on there.

But I've made records in warehouses and above fish markets, too.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Sure. There are wonderful things about a studio. This was my first time using a patch bay, and it freaked me out. It's so much easier. And that's just one of many, many things I learned there. But my point was not so much to folks like yourself, who do this professionally. It was more to the people who don't have access to nice gear. And I think even you can agree that all this stuff is really awesome, but it isn't needed to record music. As long as you have a mic and a 4-track, you can make something. Something with the same sonic qualities and beautiful sounds? ... no, maybe not. But wonderful records are made on junk, so don't let junk stop you. Or whatever.
Sometimes faster is the key. If a nicer mic can save an artist a few takes here and there, it can speed up the making of a record considerably. And make the performer much happier about the whole record. You should talk to a jingle studio engineer and ask them how long it should take to get drum sounds....

Point taken on the rest of your post though. Most people here are used to making do with what they have, and some have made brilliant records that are/arenot hifi/expensive sounding. Use what you have until you can't stand the standing waves (or bad off-axis response, or ratty reverb, or whatever your limitation) anymore.....
Good point. I guess I should specify here: I am not a professional by any stretch of the imagination. I've never recorded anyone for money; I've only recorded two projects that weren't mine, ever; there is so much I don't know about music I could fill a phonebook; I rarely wear a shirt. The people I work with are generally people I know and respect, and we already have some sort of relationship, and they're the kind of people that, should they say "This is taking too long," I would respond, "Well, you can eat my fucking ass, 'cause I'm doing this for free. Come get stabbed." So I'm not at all in a position of a professional, and I don't have to deal with clients. If I did, I'm sure this would make a huge difference. But again, I wasn't aiming this at the big guys.


That being said, maybe I could post a list of the stuff these people have so I get some opinions on some of it and some advice on where to start when throwing them up. There's way too much stuff there for me to sit down and just track a bunch of stuff and see how it comes out, so I need tips. I'm putting together a little notebook so I'll have a better idea of what to do with the stuff I haven't heard as much about.
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Re: So, I got to work in a "real" studio ...

Post by cgarges » Mon Dec 20, 2004 3:07 pm

Bear wrote:But my point was not so much to folks like yourself, who do this professionally. It was more to the people who don't have access to nice gear. And I think even you can agree that all this stuff is really awesome, but it isn't needed to record music. As long as you have a mic and a 4-track, you can make something. Something with the same sonic qualities and beautiful sounds? ... no, maybe not. But wonderful records are made on junk, so don't let junk stop you. Or whatever.
True. And I wish more people would embrace this than argue the semantics of things otherwise. (How do I get the snare drum sound from the "X" record with a $49 condenser mic and $2000 worth of gear?) I guess I just get sick of all the "yeah, fuck spending money in a 'real studio' " posts that seem to pop up here often, usually from people who've not spent much time recording in a real studio or with an experienced and client-friendly engineer. I realize your post wasn't like that, by the way. I just thought I'd point out some good reasons to utilize a "real studio" for those people who might or might not see the value.

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