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Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby blinddrew » Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:22 pm

I'm going to punt on that one and say it depends.
So much of it comes down to the precise nature of what you're doing.
Recording live drums, for example, benefits hugely from a good room and a good engineer. So that might be a good reason to start in a studio.
But if your instruments are VSTs, then maybe not. Maybe it's mixing, but this might be the easiest bit to do at home?
The value of mastering, other than the extra pair of ears, is frequently about getting access to a room and kit you can't replicate in a home studio. So maybe this is the bit to spend on?
But the changes made at mastering often depend on how good your mix is - so maybe we're back to mixing?
Oh, and now, apparently, your ability to get on itunes depends on your mastering house.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby uselessoldman » Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:04 am

This is I think quite a serious question and I am a little surprised how little interest it appears to have attracted. My suggestion feedback answer would be as such

Any serious artist musician should know their own instrument and with that know their own sound, including compression EQ effects amps\cabs and how to mic it up the way they like or record if there using DI vsts midi etc. I also think it is a good practice to own use and understand basic recording hardware and software. That said, I know plenty who did make it, and wouldn't have a clue or care, leave that side to the pros and others who started out as the musician and then trained to be the engineer.

It is down to the individual, some people are pure artists and damn good ones, but when it gets technical they switch off, over their heads or in one ear out the other, stick to what there good at. I can appreciate that as much as understand. Recording is technical as is mixing and mastering. So my own advice would be consider it, if its not for you then fair enough, but at least give it some thought and maybe try cos you might surprise yourself and it could also help be a better musician understanding sound dynamics and acoustics.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby Dave B » Sat Aug 01, 2020 11:15 am

Jeff Lynne once said that taking time to get to learn engineering (post ELO, as he was starting as a full time producer) was a terrible mistake. As an artist / producer, it's important to know the end result - the sound you want - and less so how to get it. That's why we have engineers. A good one will help the artist / producer get that sound and may well throw in some good suggestions.

So there is a clear demarcation line between the two roles. If people are happy to blur that line, then fine but it does make it harder to specialise in them.

For me, a studio is important for two things : capturing the sounds and mixing them. For a lot of people, traditionally that meant using a studio for everything. And it cost a LOT. In the old days, people would do sound design for days on end in the studio which seems mad to me, but kept programmers/studio owners in Miam Vice styled 80s jackets..

From the 90s onwards, pre-production was important so we saw programming suites / smaller studios at a much reduced rate, but those of us gear at home were able to do most of the programming and arranging in the comfort of our own homes so the costs came down a bit. Arguably, digital recording systems were the real killer for the mid - big studios.

And from the 00s onwards we got into recording at home. For me, this is where it started to go a bit wobbly. For people who just want a load of synths/samples and the odd guitar and vocal, it's fine. But if you still like band work, it gets trickier. I've tried the old 'building it up in layers' - even with a good programmed backing track - and I find the results less good than a bunch of musicians in a room playing together.

So now? Now I think it's a case of looking at what each stage offers and looking at whether you need to pay for it.

1. Pre-production - at home. Or a rehearsal room with some recording. But these days, even a band track can have a backing track / some elements prepared. Certainly, any sounds you want should largely be sorted before you hit the studio
2. Recording - studio. Whether you want a dead room or a great live sound, you should be tracking in a studio where the engineer can help get the best sounds.
3. Overdubs - home/studio depending on the part. If the guitarist has fluffed a couple of notes, then drop-in/re-amping in the same environment is good. If the vocals sound especially good in the room then fine. But, tbh, I can work on this stuff happily at home
4. Editing - home. Seriously - I'm sure the engineer is really hot at this stuff and will be able to do it faster, but unless you are on a deadline, speed is less important. Taking the time to get it right is something that you can do yourself
5. Mixing - studio. Or a dedicated mix engineer's place. I'm sure others can mix just fine, but if this were a proper release, I'd be worried about being too close to it and not seeing the woods for the trees. Another point of view is important. And a good engineer can mix far faster and better than I can. I do mix some stuff at home, but only for improving my skills - if it were important, then I'd hand it over.
6. Mastering - depends. If it's just for the odd non-release, I'll tweak it and adjust the mix but that's mainly about a little compressing / limiting and getting the lufs right. For a proper job, it's a pro all the way

All of which is purely personal - ymmv. There are people round here who can do it all, and I'm in awe of them. But - for me - this is what I tend to work to.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby Zukan » Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:25 pm

I miss the collaborative atmosphere of a commercial studio.....and it's bar, yeah the bar.

Sarm, Sanctuary, Strongroom etc all had their vibe and we often met there just to chat. On occasion, we actually did some work.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Aug 01, 2020 12:41 pm

The take away lunches! And just the fact of actually being in a studio. Always a special treat!
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby Folderol » Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:15 pm

I've never even stepped inside a studio :(
I'd love to be able to go to one and just sit and watch.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby MOF » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:17 pm

I've never even stepped inside a studio :(
I'd love to be able to go to one and just sit and watch.
Book some time and do part or all of a track.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby RichardT » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:44 pm

. 5. Mixing - studio. Or a dedicated mix engineer's place. I'm sure others can mix just fine, but if this were a proper release, I'd be worried about being too close to it and not seeing the woods for the trees. Another point of view is important. And a good engineer can mix far faster and better than I can. I do mix some stuff at home, but only for improving my skills - if it were important, then I'd hand it over.

I must admit I’d find it hard to pass this over to somebody else (other than a collaborator). Mixing seems so closely linked to my vision for a track I wouldn’t like to give up control of it.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby CS70 » Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:54 pm

Dave B wrote:Jeff Lynne once said that taking time to get to learn engineering (post ELO, as he was starting as a full time producer) was a terrible mistake. As an artist / producer, it's important to know the end result - the sound you want - and less so how to get it. That's why we have engineers. A good one will help the artist / producer get that sound and may well throw in some good suggestions.

I can definitely see why.. once I've invented a few pieces, selected the one or two I think worth actually producing, and put on my recording/mixing/producing hats, all the musical creativity seem to disappear.

The work is immensely fun, but I cannot get to invent new (good) stuff while I'm producing or mixing something. .

I think maybe it's because when I've got a production to make, my time and focus goes all there instead of noodling around with drum beats, bass lines, old records or just be on the sofa with the guitar in your hand. I often barely practice.

It's really annoying. I would love to work with someone who did the recording and mixing for me. On the other side, I enjoy the activity very much so it's complicated...
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby Jorge » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:19 am

Our generations are spoiled. Take a look at Rudy Van Gelder's recording schedule from the 1950s to the 2000s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Gelder_Studio
For example 60 years ago, in August 1960 he recorded 16 albums on 6 different labels. These included albums by Larry Young, Duke Jordan, Art Taylor, Art Blakey and Jazz Messengers (2 albums), Jimmy Forest, Al Smith, Freddie Redd, Eric Dolphy (2 albums), Brownie McGee & Sonny Terry (3 albums), Oliver Nelson, Blind Gary Davis and John Wright. Of course August has 31 days (it did then too) so a bit longer than your average month. And that was just August. The first 4 days of September that year he recorded 2 albums and parts of 2 more albums including Jackie McLean, Tina Brooks, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin. He kept up that sort of pace for decades and produced some of the best jazz albums ever among the many hundreds of albums he recorded. Musicians back then showed up well rehearsed and often did one take per song for the whole album, a rarity today. An optometrist by training (with no music tech diploma!) he had to invent, design, build, maintain, troubleshoot and repair most of his recording equipment, edit his recordings bouncing to other recorders and with a razor blade and tape at times, and lots of other inconveniences. No clicking on effects, copy and paste, patching in the box, or any of the other tedious DAW tasks we have to slog through.

Sadly, Mr. Van Gelder passed away in 2016 at 91 years of age. His studio which he helped design, with legendary acoustics, is still there in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA. The studio is not as busy as back in the day but it is still active, run by his colleague Maureen Sickler, and just recorded Charles McPherson Jazz Dance Suites a few days ago.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby Arpangel » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:05 am

Jorge wrote:Our generations are spoiled. Take a look at Rudy Van Gelder's recording schedule from the 1950s to the 2000s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Gelder_Studio
For example 60 years ago, in August 1960 he recorded 16 albums on 6 different labels. These included albums by Larry Young, Duke Jordan, Art Taylor, Art Blakey and Jazz Messengers (2 albums), Jimmy Forest, Al Smith, Freddie Redd, Eric Dolphy (2 albums), Brownie McGee & Sonny Terry (3 albums), Oliver Nelson, Blind Gary Davis and John Wright. Of course August has 31 days (it did then too) so a bit longer than your average month. And that was just August. The first 4 days of September that year he recorded 2 albums and parts of 2 more albums including Jackie McLean, Tina Brooks, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin. He kept up that sort of pace for decades and produced some of the best jazz albums ever among the many hundreds of albums he recorded. Musicians back then showed up well rehearsed and often did one take per song for the whole album, a rarity today. An optometrist by training (with no music tech diploma!) he had to invent, design, build, maintain, troubleshoot and repair most of his recording equipment, edit his recordings bouncing to other recorders and with a razor blade and tape at times, and lots of other inconveniences. No clicking on effects, copy and paste, patching in the box, or any of the other tedious DAW tasks we have to slog through.

Sadly, Mr. Van Gelder passed away in 2016 at 91 years of age. His studio which he helped design, with legendary acoustics, is still there in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA. The studio is not as busy as back in the day but it is still active, run by his colleague Maureen Sickler, and just recorded Charles McPherson Jazz Dance Suites a few days ago.

When you can buy black boxes off-the-shelf, or click a mouse to do something, then whatever that creative activity is, is over, it’s finished, time to move on to something else, as anything worthwhile in that particular branch of the arts has already been done.
If you have to make, or construct something to do what you want to do then you already know you’re on the right tack, there isn’t anything out there to do that job, made by someone who already understands what you’re trying to do and if that’s the case then you’re idea isn’t unique, and again, time to move on.
People like "Look Mum No Computer" are carrying on that tradition, by trying to think out of the box, making their own stuff, it’s not easy by any means, and it may lead to failure, but anything worthwhile is never easy, and by golly, people want it on a plate these days.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby CS70 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:58 am

Jorge wrote:Our generations are spoiled.

I'm pretty sure there are hard and fast working people in our generation as well. :D
If you think of the amount of knowledge that a studio ninja has to have these days with respect to back then... you need to know (almost) all that these people knew, plus a myriad computer-related things that they would not have even dreamt of.

The only skills you no longer need are the ones related to tape.. all the rest is still there, plus bucketloads more which are just as unrelated to music in general. The complexity of commercial productions is orders of magnitude bigger - and as a professional if you still need to compete..

Hats off to the guy as he was obviously skilled and prolific, but I'm sure there were slackers back then as well!

Besides, one of the biggest creative forces in engineering is active lazyness - spending a lot of effort in trying to make things easier for the next time. :D

Arpangel wrote:People like "Look Mum No Computer" are carrying on that tradition, by trying to think out of the box, making their own stuff, it’s not easy by any means, and it may lead to failure, but anything worthwhile is never easy, and by golly, people want it on a plate these days.

I think you're mixing what you like with what is creative. ;-)

People are different and they are creative in different ways. Some like to fuff with chunky boxes, some don't, some like both.

The tools one uses mean nothing, and don't automatically grant any superiority or higher value.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby Arpangel » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:13 am

I had an interesting conversation with an old musician friend last night. We both couldn’t say much that was positive about the world, especially the world of music.
He’s had his time, he’s had success, he’s a great songwriter, and above all he’s not twitter and bisted, he’s just a realist, and I respect his opinions a lot.
The music business has nothing to to do with what I’m interested in, it’s got nothing to do with me, I don’t understand it and I don’t want to understand it, full stop.
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby CS70 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:48 am

Arpangel wrote:I had an interesting conversation with an old musician friend last night. We both couldn’t say much that was positive about the world, especially the world of music.

My friend, it's called getting old :D
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Re: Recording Studios Are... Pointless / Essential !

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:57 pm

Bah! They’ll never take us alive! :D
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