Everland Studios

Sailing The Waves Of Sound

Everland studios is a professional music recording studio located in Sydney. 

Recording and Mixing "Dave"

"Dave" are a band from Newcastle that make indie rock. They sent me through some demos before we started recording and I heard influences of bands like Spoon, Superchunk and Cloud Nothings. 

They had already recorded and released a four song EP last year but for this one they wanted to go for a sound that was rawer and less-produced. They sent me quite a few reference tracks, almost all of them recorded and mixed by Steve Albini, who is famous for his no-nonsense approach to making records. 

In most ways we set up the recording session just as we would normally. We concentrated on getting the instruments sounding right in the room before we added any microphones. It took a little bit of tweaking to get the snare sounding right by tuning and damping. After that we were up and running.

The band played live with a scratch vocal and we then went back and overdubbed guitars and vocals. I set up three mics on the guitar cabinets, an SM57, AKG C414 and a Beyerdynamic M201. These were all bussed to one track in pro-tools and we chose a unique blend of the three for each part we recorded. 

I really liked the sound of the vocals on the demo, which were recorded using an SM57. Instead of using a 57 though, I set up a Sennheiser 421 and a Peluso P12. We recorded both mics for each track but in the mix I almost always opted for the 421. 

Mixing was a fairly straightforward process. i used quite a bit of distortion and saturation on a lot of elements including drums and vocals. In the end I think we ended up with a sound that could probably be described as hi-fi lo-fi. 

Contact Everland to chat about your next recording project. We will work out prices to suit your budget. 

Recording Eden's March

We had Eden's March in over the weekend recording a new song called "Never Gonna Break Your Heart Again". Eden's March are a band from here in Sydney that have been together since 2009. They have recorded a few times before but this was their first time at Everland.

Dave, the singer/producer, had produced a demo version of the song in his home studio and the band preferred to record each instrument separately, starting with drums.

Trent, the drummer, set up his Tama Starclassic Birch kit. He spent a little bit of time tuning the toms in the room and we added the 16" tom from the house kit to make a 3-tom setup. We mic'ed up the kit, pulled sounds and started on drum takes, followed by bass, guitars and finally vocals.

Call Everland on 0400 742 218. We'll get you into the studio at rates that suit your budget. 

Choosing a Recording Studio (Part 1.)

 

Choosing the right studio to record your music in can be a difficult task. There are a lot of great studios in Sydney, which doesn't make it any easier. Here are a few points to keep in mind when searching for the right place to record.

Size & configuration

Does the studio size and configuration suit your preferred recording method. For example, if your band is a four-piece and you'd like to record all the instruments at the same time then this should be a consideration when choosing the studio. There's no point in considering smaller studios that are not able to accommodate a full band as this may have the effect of compromising the performance and hence the final product. 

At Everland, we can record drums, bass, two guitars, keyboards and a scratch vocal at the same time. There are good sight lines between performers to maintain the vibe of your music.

Budget

It's a fact of life for most indie bands in this day and age that budget is a factor when choosing a recording studio. The costs of producing an EP or album don't end with recording either; a band has to leave some money aside for mastering, CD/vinyl production, and marketing costs. 

At Everland we've tried to find a balance between having some of the best sounding gear/rooms in Sydney while keeping our prices affordable to indie/unsigned bands. 

Personality

By which I mean the personality of the engineer/producer you will be working with. Remember, you'll be spending a fair bit of time with this person so it pays to make sure that you'll get along and that the engineer shares a vision for the sound of your music. 

At Everland, we're always happy to meet prospective clients before they make a booking. It's a great way for you to see the studio and meet the engineer you'd be working with. If you have any demos or rehearsal recordings of the songs you would like to record, bring them along, we'd love to hear them.

Gear

I hesitate to put this one in here because in some ways it is (or should be) the least important factor in choosing a studio. The fact is that it's not necessary to have a list as long as your arm of boutique and vintage microphones to make a quality record. Bon Iver famously recorded his debut album in a cabin with nothing more than a Shure SM57. 

With that said, there is a difference between using quality preamps and AD convertors and the cheap pre's and convertors you will find in some low budget studios. Everland has a quality microphones, preamps and analogue to digital conversion to capture the best sound possible on your recording.

These are a few of the factors to take into consideration when choosing a recording studio. Give us a call on 0400 742 218 to come in and have a chat.

Rates for freelance engineers/producers

Everland Studios offers great rates for freelance engineers and producers who are looking for a studio to work from. 

Our prices are competitive so that you can offer your clients a great deal on their recording project.

At 6m x 4m, the live room is not the largest in Sydney but it is a great sounding room for recording drums.

So, for a studio that suits your budget, give Ben a call on 0400 742 218 for more details on prices and to arrange a studio tour.

Bass & Drums with The Callum Chenowyth Band

I spent today recording drums and bass with the Callum Chenowyth Band for an upcoming album. The band had recorded guide tracks in their home studio and brought stereo music mixes to import into Pro tools. 

Tom, the drummer set up his Pearl Reference kit. It sounded great in the room right away so we started to set up microphones. The bass drum had an interesting configuration of ports - there were 3 small holes rather than one large one. Usually I like to get the mic inside the drum quite close to the beater but with the smaller hole it wasn't possible. I angled a Sennheiser 421 up inside pointing to where the beater makes contact with the batter head. It actually sounded great right off the bat running through the Neve 8024 channel strip. I boosted a little at 50Hz and cut a little at 300Hz et voila! 

We ended up with SE RN17's as overheads in a spaced pair, SM57 snare top and Beyerdynamic M201 on snare bottom. AGK 414's went on the toms with the Audix D6 on the outside of the kick.

For the room microphones I've been using a mid-side stereo pair. Today we used the Peluso 2247 in figure 8 mode for the sides and a Shure KSM141 as the 'mid'. The advantage of this technique is that there are no phase issues between the mics and you can vary the width of the stereo image by blending more or less of the side mic into the mix.

 

Everland OPEN DAY 2016

On Sunday 8th May, Everland Studios is holding our first open day! From midday until 4pm we will open our doors for anyone who is interested to come along and see the inside of a working music recording studio. 

You don't necessarily have to be a musician or play in a band, just be curious about how a studio works. Our head engineer, Ben Worsey will be there to answer any questions regarding the recording process. 

No RSVP necessary, simply head to 40 East St. FIVE DOCK between 12-4pm on Sunday 8th May 2016.

Hope to see you there!!

Anthony Demaria Labs ADL1500

One of the pieces of gear that lives in the rack at Everland is the Anthony Demaria Labs ADL1500. It's a stereo tube compressor/limiter that is very similar in design to the revered LA-2A

The ADL1500 works beautifully when recording vocals or bass. The compression is very transparent and musical. 

Contact Everland Studios for a quote on recording your music.

How long is a piece of string?

...or, how long will it take to record and mix my music. 

I will always endeavour to give the best possible estimate of how long it might take to record and mix a certain set of songs based on the information a band gives me, but the reality is that this will always be an estimate. Recording in the studio is a creative process like any other and it's impossible to say exactly how long certain things will take. For example, when recording a single, Band A might nail the drums, bass and guitar basic tracks in one take and be ready to move onto overdubs, while Band B might take ten takes to find the one with the magic. 

Somethings to keep in mind though:

Setting up and mic'ing drums is the most time consuming part of any session. From the time you arrive at the studio and start loading in, to the time when we are ready to push record on the first drum take will likely be between 1-2 hours, depending on how much work needs to be done on preparing the kit for recording (tuning, muffling, etc.)

I have had bands set up and record drums and bass for six tracks in one day, and I have had bands that take the same amount of time to do two tracks. Your band will probably be somewhere in the middle. 

The complexity of the songs and the number of overdubs required will obviously affect the amount of time needed.

After all that though...

Call Ben on 0400 742 218 and he'll do his best to give you an estimate of how much time you'll need!

Recording Guitars with Kim Killspeed

We have Kim Killspeed in the studio this evening recording some guitar parts for their next EP. Kim Killspeed are a local Sydney band who recorded and mixed their first EP here at Everland too. Andy, from the band is a bit of a guitar obsessive and has some nice Tele's that we often use. He also collects amps and has an original Fender Champ from the 50's. These amps are super-basic with just a volume control and a tone knob. They record really well, and they are only 5W! 

When recording guitars I'll often use a two microphone setup, pairing a dynamic (such as a Shure SM57) with a condenser (like an AKG C414). You have to be careful to get the phase relationship between the two microphones correct but a blend can often give a fuller sound than recording with one microphone on it's own. 

Ways to skin a cat... ***

...or, how are we going to record this thing?

As the title of this post suggests there are a few different ways to go about recording a song. 

  • The band records all instruments and vocals together in one take. Song finished, ready to mix!
  • The band records each part one-by-one, usually starting with the drummer recording to a click track. Each successive part (bass, guitar, vox, keys, etc.) is then recorded as an overdub.

The reality is that in most cases the process will be a hybrid of these two methods. I would say that the majority of bands I work with would record drums, bass, guitars and a scratch vocal** at the same time. They will do anywhere between one and ten takes of the song and then choose the best one. The idea is that this gives the song an energy that is not present when using the overdub method. With that said, I have no prejudice against working instrument by instrument; in some cases it may serve the song better to work this way, as it allows every player the ability to focus in on each of their parts.

Once these basic takes are completed we will then go back and overdub other parts, including the final vocal. We may also fix small inconsistencies in the basic takes with 'drop ins'.

At Everland we have the capacity to record drums, bass, two guitars, keys and a scratch vocal at the same time. 

Call us and come in to see the studio and we'll work out the best way for you to record.

**This is not a reference to the aforementioned cat, a scratch vocal is a place-holder vocal used to cue other musicians and is re-recorded towards the end of the process.

***No cats were harmed in the writing of this post

Tick, tick, tick... Do we have to use a click track?

In a word... no. The use of a click track during the recording process is entirely optional and should be decided in terms of what best serves the performance of each song. Some songs may benefit from a metronomic feel, while others will need the natural push and pull of a band playing 'free time'. 

Another thing to bear in mind is that some drummers are entirely comfortable playing with a click while others have never done it before. The recording studio is definitely not the place to learn this skill but it is a very useful ability to have, so I would encourage all drummers to practice playing to a metronome at least some of the time.

It's worth discussing this and other aspects of the session beforehand, so feel free to call or email and we'll be happy to talk about the logistics of the recording process and make recommendations as to the best approach for your band.

Everland Studios' Drum Kit

Everland recording studio drumkit

At Everland the usage of the house drum kit is included in the cost of each session. 

The kit is a Pearl Masters MCX Mocha Tamo 6-ply Maple

  • 22" x 22" Kick
  • 14" x 6.5" Sensitone Elite Steel Snare
  • 10" x 8" Rack Tom
  • 12" x 10" Rack Tom
  • 16" x 16" Floor Tom
  • Sabian 14" HHX Click Hats
  • Zildjian 16" A Custom Projection Crash
  • Zildjian 18" A Custom Projection Crash
  • Meinl Byzance 20" Traditional Ride

The heads are replaced regularly and there is a selection of different heads for the kick so we are able to tailor the sound to suit the session.

This kit is made for the recording studio and sounds fantastic!

Of course you are welcome to use your own kit or even to mix and match elements of the house kit with your own. In fact, even if you plan on recording with the house kit, I would encourage you to at least bring your snare(s) and cymbals; it's always good to have a variety of options. 

Do you do mastering?

One of the most common question I get asked is, "Can you mix and master our music?"

The answer is: "Yes, I can definitely mix your music, but I don't do mastering."

"Why is that?", I hear you ask.

Well, there's a few reasons:

1. Mixing and mastering are two separate but equally important aspects of creating a polished, professional sound and both mixing and mastering engineers spend years learning and perfecting their craft. Perhaps this is not the perfect analogy, but think of your song as a photo. The choice of camera, lenses, location, lighting and subject, along with the actual photo shoot are analogous to the recording process. The development of the photo in the dark room would be the mixing phase. Mastering is taking that photo and giving it to someone who is highly skilled with photoshop to put the finishing touches on it!

2. The mastering engineer should always bring a fresh set of ears to the song/project. The mix engineer will likely have spent 8 or more hours listening to each song while mixing it. It's almost impossible to then take that song and master it; you simply don't have the distance and fresh perspective required. It also begs the question, if a mixing engineer offers to master your song and they hear a tonal imbalance as they are mastering, why did they not fix it in mixing stage?

3. Mastering should always be done in a different room to mixing. This is because no matter how much acoustic treatment a room has, it will always have some slight imperfections in frequency response. Having your mix mastered in a different room will highlight any minor frequency issues within the mix and allow the mastering engineer to correct these with EQ.

So, the upshot is this: Always be suspicious of anyone who tells you that they can mix AND master your music. In my mind they obviously do not have a clear understanding of the processes involved.

Anyone can throw a brick-wall limiter on your tracks and make them LOUD, and hey, if that's all you need then I'm happy to do that for you… just please don't call it mastering!

Recording and mixing with Good Counsel

So, I've just spent seven days in the studio with Good Counsel. It's been a great experience. We recorded and mixed six songs, which will be released in the form of singles and an EP. 

Six songs in seven days might seem like a lot but when the band has done as much pre-production as these guys did, recording is a very smooth process. The guys arrived with Pro Tools sessions for each track with all the parts and arrangements mapped out. We set up to record drums, bass and piano live and used the pre-production demos as guides for the guitars and vocals. Once the drums and bass were completed at the end of the first day, we proceeded to overdub guitar and synth parts and finished with vocals. 

That left us 4 days for the mix. We did a lot of work to get the sounds as right as possible during the recording process so it was often just a case of pushing up the faders and with a touch of high pass filter and that was it. 

Overall it was a great experience to work with a band that has such a strong vision for their sound. 

Demos with Castlecomer

Castlecomer in the recording studio

Castlecomer are a Sydney 5-piece who have been in the process of writing songs for a forthcoming album. They've been into Everland three times over the last six months to record demos for these songs. 

Demos can be a great way for a band to hear what is working and what isn't outside of the context of a rehearsal room. Demo recording is a slightly more quick and dirty process than setting up for a full session. For example we may only use 4 mics on the drum kit - kick, snare, and two overheads. The bass will likely be DI'ed only. Vocals can be sung live into a '58 in the control room. The band will usually run through two to three takes of each song and choose the best take of each to take away with them. In this particular case, rather than mixing the demo I provided the band with raw audio files for each instrument so they were able to experiment with arrangements in their DAW at home. 

Contact Everland for a quote on demo'ing your songs.

Preparing for your session

It can be pretty daunting for a band with little or no experience to walk into the recording studio for the first time. Being as prepared as possible can make the whole experience much more enjoyable for everyone involved in the recording process. Here's some things to keep in mind...

  • Bring the best instruments/amps you can beg, borrow or steal. A crappy Strat copy that you bought at the pawn shop for $50 might be ok for your bedroom but if at all possible, borrow your mate's original '62 Fender Stratocaster for the session. I'm exaggerating for effect but you get the idea. We have a few instruments here that you're welcome to use but please bring your own too.
  • Make sure these instruments are in the best condition they can be. Being able to hear in more detail will exaggerate intonation issues, rattles, etc. Have your guitar set-up professionally and re-strung a few days before the session. Don't change strings on the day if at all possible, unless you want to be tuning every five minutes. Drummers - if you are planning on using your kit, please put new heads on all toms/snares. This will make the difference between an ok drum sound and a great one. Don't arrive with the same heads you've had for the last five years and expect to get the drum sound of the century.
  • Be well rehearsed. The studio is definitely a place for experimentation but it's not the place to be learning your instrument. If you are planning on recording together as a band, make sure you can play the songs tightly as a band. If you can't play the part you'd like to play - simplify. A simple part, well played will sound better that a more complex part played badly every time.
  • Think about overdubs. Overdubs are extra layers that are added to the basic tracks to give the recording a fuller sound. In the case of guitars, these might be the same part played with a different guitar/amp combo or they might be completely different parts. This is particularly important for three-piece bands. 
  • Arrive on time to your session, within reason. Everyone gets stuck in traffic sometimes but sleeping in and wasting an hour of your day is not a way to get the session off to a good start.
  • Relax and have fun. Time is money, but it should also be a fun experience. Otherwise, what are we all doing this for?