30th Anniversary 1985-2015

To celebrate our 30 Anniversary theres some new pics from the old Ultmo Studio as well as the current Balmain facility.
We are also running 2 for 1 deals in Febuary - contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to get 2 days for the price of 1 - limited spots available....
We have also completed a massive upgrade to the Pro Tools Rig - now running PT11(soon to be PT12 when its available) AND finally a brilliant new 
Interface - The Mighty Antelope Orion 32 I/O 192KHZ A-D with all the bells and whistles.
New Pics are HERE.

News Dec 2014

SUMMER NEWS AND DEALS

Next year is our 30th Anniversary ......

.....and we'll be running special promotions throughout so watch this space and if you have'nt already sign up to our newsletter down the bottom of this page.

Meanwhile in studio land theres been some fanttastic sessions recently including  Pete Holz Overseeing 70+ hours of voice overs for a new car speech recognition system on the clients own B+K mic and calibration box fedexxed from NYC. Russ Piling has been working on numerous sessions including Feicks Device, Nancy Vandal, The Wasters, Mahana, Dead Brian, Tim Walker, Urban Guerillas and Big White. Brad Shepherd from The Gurus spent a tech day at the studio with his stage tech building and testing a new 2 tier pedal board and wireless rig through his trusty Fender Tonemaster.

Mastering

Andrew Beck has been busy in the Red Stairs with singles and albums for the likes of Kim Davis, Tim Walker, Owen Mancell, Dali and the Paperband and Simon Gibson.

William Bowden’s session’s include Perry Keys, Emperors, Alannah Stone, King Tide, Hermitude, Emma Louise and many more.

Live FOH and Tour Mangement from Marshall Cullen
Some challenging shows through November including The Church at Mullum Fest on a Digico D9 – over 30 lines with no sound check. A launch for Qantas with a 16 piece jazz act inc 6 piece strings, accordion, mandolin, keys, guitar, drums and double bass. Having DPA4099’s on the strings saved the day as we had to compete with the new Jet taxie’ing its wing over the top of the band as they played. The Aria’s with Neil Finn and Paul Kelly and all the fun of live TV. Finally the final Be My Guru show of the year in WA with all 8 band members from Le Hoodoo Gurus to the present day ‘Gurus on stage at once.-pic below

 

 

 

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Drum Recording techniques part 4

Drum Recording Techniques Part 4
 *Line Checking / Balancing – this is something that should be done BEFORE the drummer arrives, ideally have the drum kit set up the night before the session then send the drummer home, or start early the next day before anyone arrives. This is a much more professional approach as the chances are with the many lines needed for drums something wont work first off and there may be cross patches – all of this can be ironed out with maybe the help of an assistant/trainee before the session so when the drummer rocks in (usually 1 hour before the band) everything works – I have seen sessions ruined before they begin by the entire band sitting around after they have set up waiting for the engineer just to get a single kick drum to come back in the control room monitors! – first impressions count and that does not inspire confidence. Even if you are a ‘band member ’ engineer using your home rig I’m sure you’ll get a better final result if everything can be checked and is working rather than have your band mates standing around going ‘is it ready?’

So much can be done in this stage that the actual drum recording should be just fun!
So as a rough guide try this ;

1 position mics – leave cable slack at the mic end – not the stage box end – cause you may need to move them to find the sweet spot and remember  if something is wrong it can be traced real quick whereas if there’s is a rats next of cables piled on top of the stage box you may as well start again if something doesn’t work..

2 patch them thru your rig in the control room – all the way from inputs to workstation/tape machine and then out of that into the desk/monitoring so as you check each line you know it is running through the recording device, if you only check it at the input end you have only done half the job.

3 line checknow have the friend/assistant go to each mic and gently tap it/talk into it – don’t hit drums yet

line each one up to the same basic level. This is better for the line check as it’s the same sound in each mic rather than different drums – line up of course be aware drums will be much louder- this is just to check all is in the right channels and is working correctly.

once its all working its time to pull some actual drum sounds! So remember to watch the gain on the mic pre’s!

4 ‘Pulling’ a drum sound

Firstly it’s very important to have a vision in your mind of what you want each individual drum to sound like and what the overall drum ‘mix’ should be. This is very subjective and can be very varied- you need to be able to listen to your favorite pieces of music and identify the separate drums as they are played and know what kind of sound they have – this is called ‘training your ear’ for eg;- if its an older style retro sounding band/song then you may want the kick drum fairly dull but if it’s a modern day rock track it will need to be quite bright and ‘clicky’ along with a nice round low end.

Secondly studio drum recording is all about the room itself and the combination of close mics and room mics, only trial and error will allow you to find the really sweet spots of what works for your ear and the differnt types of kits and music genres. Theres thousands of pics on the web these days of where to place the mics so i won't get into that. 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER;

Your have checked it all so now work through each individual drum having the drummer play it while you level it up – I cant stress enough to leave the EQ alone at this point – just get a good input level, tone on each drum then turn all the close mics off and bring up the rooms as the drummer plays some time so you can find the sweet spots as per above, there’s nothing wrong with walking in the live room putting on some headphones and moving mics about.

Once you are happy with the rooms turn them off and get a nice balance of the close mics then bring the rooms in just under, when setting up headphone sends for the other players or the drummer just use the close mics, the rooms can make timing and so on a bit out as they are a distance from the kit.

When you have a great sound and you haven’t touched the eq record the drummer playing by himself for a bit, then you know it all works when you hear playback, the drummer can come and listen and feel confident and then you can maybe tweak a tiny bit of eq to really fine tune.

 With the advent of workstations you know you can edit or automate out the tom tracks when they are not being played so if you can hear some rumble from them at this stage you know it doesn’t matter, you should be able to mute their returns  so you can hear how it cleans up quickly with them off and the drummer can then hear this too, same with the rooms, if they are clouding the audio ‘picture’ turn them down or off but still record them as it can all change in the mix and even from verse to chorus.

If you have a very dead room and the room mics really aren’t adding anything you should probably use some digital reverb to add a little of that character, usually just on the snare and toms is enough, having it sending from the kick, top end stuff or rooms can get very messy, start with it on the snare and toms and go from there. A little on the kick in a ballad can be ok.

A final tip, in the same way to be careful of EQ watch the ‘solo’ button, no one but you will ever hear parts solo’d, try and approach the drum sound as all the mics and drums combined together in a mix, if you spend hours listening to each individual mic on solo it will waste a lot of time and achieve very little. A good use of ‘solo’ is a quick check that each individual mic is picking up what its meant to, so while the drummer is playing time solo the kick – the kick hits should be the loudest thing in this channel, if not something is wrong, there will be spill certainly but it should be around half or less as the main source you are trying to capture , then its manageable – if its not change the mic position., use your eyes, ears and common sense to see and hear what’s going on..

Studio Happenings Update

Be My Guru

Not to waste a good opportunity the Mighty Hoodoo Gurus pre production for their 'Be My Guru' Splendour show (featuring the return of the Stoneage Romeo's Rhythm Section James Baker and Cylde Bramely) turned into some new recordings for limited edition vinyl as well.The full 6 piece even reworked Lelani with the 2 drum kits.

A full month of sessions

With the mighty Russ Pilling back from his well earned rest sessions have returned to the normal frenetic pace.Andrew Beck covered with some great sessions in the gap with Josh Clark's new band , Kim Davis tracking new tunes and Daxton. Russell has been looking after many long term and new clients since his return - New Lovers, Big White, more Daxton, and most notably he managed to run a Live in The Studio Solo for the Halfway Homebuoy lads.

Mastering News

Andrew Beck's Red stairs has been busy as ever - 
Some sessions include Kate Miller Heidke remixes, Fleur Wiber single, Josh Clark mix and master,Men from Earth, Big White, The Dirty Earth and more.
William Bowden is back on deck and is currently head down on the new Church Album.

The Hoodoo Gurus have been back in mixing their upcoming Vinyl EP and now its being mastered by the master King Willy Bowden himself, Audio Vixen have also mixed a massive 32 track live album, and now while Russ gets some sleep Pete Holz takes the Helm for some mixing with Julian Ardas.


Andrew beck had a mastering marathon with the - 
Eye on You album
Flowertruck single
Daxton Ep
The Orange Tree single

Studio A Russ will be mixing some stuff for Kingy(Rose Tattoo)
and i'll be mixing Live FOH for the Hoodoo Gurus up north.

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Studio Happenings

March in the studio

With Andrew Beck now recovered from his angle grinder incident all is back to speed with both the Red Stairs and the Main Studio . March saw a range of projects come through including Crosson(tracking for a USA mixed Japanese release), the timeless Kamahl dropping by to add some spoken word to Michael Keatings project, Lily Duval recording two new songs for her next release, Dinah Lee mixing a new single, Brace for Whiplash mixing their next ep, Winterstation putting down their next batch of tunes ready for overdubs, Hip Hoppers Mr Speaker finishing their new album and country legend Norma O’Hara Murphy hitting the big smoke all the way from Warwick Queensland to work with Russell and a host of session players on her new album. A special mention goes to the most recent live in the studio show – The Dusty Ravens - pulled in their key following for an intimate gig in the live room , recorded and filmed for youtube and itunes.

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