Frequently Asked Questions! One of the first hurdles encountered to those new to a recording setting is the lingo, workflow, and roles within the studio. Even those with some studio experience may not have realistic expectations about what the studio entails. Remember, we are here to get you and your music to where you want it to be (and beyond). The best way to get there is come in with realistic goals and be as prepared as possible . Please take a moment and read through any topics about which you might have questions, and as always contact us for more info!
I’m ready for my big break! All I need is some studio time. I’d like to start tomorrow, and I have ten songs ready to go. Can we get those done in two hours?
What are some main roles in the studio (Artist/Producer/Engineer)?
What is included in the hourly rate at Lady Of Noise?
What’s a day rate, and what’s included?
I am preparing to come in for a session, what should I do?
Why do I need to place a deposit?
Will you charge per song or per album?
What are the steps to make a record?
What’s mastering? Do I need it?
I saw a guy on craigslist who will do all this for free/$50/a six-pack for my whole record. Should I go there instead?
I have an engineer I always work with, but I want to use Lady Of Noise facilities. Can I do that?
I am an engineer and want to bring a session in to Lady Of Noise. Can I get some info?
The engineer told me something I didn’t like hearing. To whom can I direct a complaint?
And some answers:
Excellent! We’re pleased you’re ready to record and are considering us for your project. However, it’s important to adjust your expectations to something a bit more in line with reality. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor were many of your favorite records. Quality takes time and effort; there’s a reason many major label artists take weeks and months in the studio-they want everything to be as perfect as possible. We want your project to be as perfect as possible as well, so please continue reading this FAQ so that you are better equipped for success in the studio. Back To Top
An easy way to understand these roles is to look at the studio as though it were a movie set. The artist is the actor. He or she is in the studio to capture a vocal, instrumental, or other audio performance in order to share it with a larger audience. Many times the artist is also the writer and may or may not share artistic control with the producer, depending on circumstances of the session.
The producer is the director; he or she is in charge of the project as a whole. The producer is responsible for the overall scope of the project, keeping the project on budget, and ensuring the proper people are in the proper place at the proper times. In many small budget projects, the artist and the producer are the same person, but not always. (In hip-hop, “producer” may instead describe the person creating and providing the beats.)
The engineer is the director of photography. In film, the director describes the desired angle and focus of a shot; in music, the producer describes the desired sound to the engineer who is then tasked with using the proper tools to capture the sound in that manner. While it is not the engineer’s job to focus on the artistic aspects of the song, he or she may contribute when asked or if he or she feels it is appropriate. The engineer is also charged with maintaining the functionality of his/her tools. (This is our job at Lady Of Noise unless otherwise negotiated before the session. Jason is our house engineer.) Back To Top
When you pay for an hour at Lady Of Noise, you are offered full facility to the console, tape machine, outboard, and any other studio owned instruments or gear. We will likely take 5 minutes each hour to break and clear our minds and reset our ears.
Depending on where you are or what you will need for your project will dictate what we might be doing during the charged hour. The clock starts at your scheduled time or, if setup time is offered, when microphones begin getting placed. The rate is constant for tracking/mixing/whatever else we might be doing in the studio. Back To Top
A dayrate is simply a discounted block of time. In fact, if you would like several dayrates we may discount further! Usually the day-rate goes into effect after 6 booked hours that happen in the same calendar day. This rate does not change up to 8 hours. (It’s free time! The catch is that it must be used on the same day.) Other than a rate change, there are no differences between a day-rate and a regularly booked hour. Back To Top
There are lots of preparation for the studio tips and tricks that can be found all over the web, but here are a few from our experiences:
Everyone should take a moment before entering the studio to clear his or her mind from outside distractions. Bring something to snack on and drink. (We recommend bringing a small cooler to leave in the car or the hallway near the entrance to grab something quick to munch on between takes as necessary.) We also recommend no mobile devices in the studio as they are a constant link to distraction. We’re not the mobile phone police, but remember that if you’re not completely in the recording game mentally, it’s very tough to have a great take. And always, always, always silence your mobile before heading in to the tracking room, or, preferably, turn it off. Please keep extraneous personnel to a minimum. There’s no issue with bringing along a second set of ears, but the studio gets crowded quickly, and boyfriend/girlfriends/husbands/wives often get bored quickly. Please, no children in the studio unless they are performing. If you need babysitting arrangements, please let us know and we can help you find someone to help you out.
Vocalists should bring something to drink-whatever best soothes and improves his or her voice. This is individual; some people prefer honey, some hot tea, some prefer something a bit harder. Whatever works best for you works best for us. (As long as it’s legal!) Memorize your words if at all possible. It is much easier to get a great vocal sound if you can face the microphone rather than miking off-axis because you’re reading from a sheet of paper or your phone.
String players should consider bringing and extra pack of strings or two. There are nearby music shops, but Murphy’s Law dictates that the string will pop at the most inopportune time. Bring a tuner, as this is the most often forgotten item. The studio can usually provide what you need, but if we’re looking for a tuner, and not setting up microphones, or checking levels, etc., you’re losing time! If there is something that is a good warm-up tool (some people bring small hand strengthening exercisers or stress balls), pack it up. If you’re electric, an extra cable or two (or three or four) is always a good idea, as well.
Drummers should have new heads (with a spare head ready, especially for snare and kick), a tuning key, and plenty of sticks. Even if you tuned before heading over, the change in humidity from one location to another will affect the tuning. Set them up and get tuning! Improperly tuned drums are one of the biggest offenders in wasted time and, if not taken care of, can ruin an otherwise great drum sound. (If you’d prefer to have a tech setup the kit for you, we can link you up with some local, experienced drum techs.) Make sure your hardware is in good working order and free of squeaks or other extraneous noise.
Horn players should bring extra reeds, oils, or any other equipment that may malfunction during the session, as well as a method to tune the instrument.
Keys players should be knowledgeable on the outputs of their equipment and have any presets ready for individual tracks. We can handle common outputs, but please communicate what you need prior to the session so we can be sure to be prepared in the event there is an oddity in wait.
Producers should come in with a plan for the session (preferably written down with a copy to share with the engineer) so that the session can run as smoothly as possible. If there will be musicians coming and going, make sure that all involved are informed of times, locations, and phone numbers in the event the unforeseen happens. If an outside session will be loaded into ProTools (a beat for hip-hop artists or tracks recorded elsewhere), please have them on-hand in an external or flash drive and coordinate in advance to ensure we are equipped with proper connections to accomodate the drive. It’s helpful to have them also stored online in the event the hard drive fails, a cable is bad, etc. Back To Top
A deposit is necessary as it protects both you as the client and Lady Of Noise. Your 50% deposit holds and affirms your date while also guaranteeing the company that you will show up during your reserved time. More information can be found on our Rates page. We accept cash, check, or credit card in person, a check via mail or in person, or PayPal. (A small additional fee may apply to PayPal payments.) Back To Top
At Lady Of Noise, we no longer offer per project rates. Unfortunately, due to abuses of the policy, we only charge per hour/day/week. If you’d like a lock-out of any length longer than our offered day-rate, please contact us for more details and pricing. Back To Top
A normal recording scenario for music is pre-production, tracking, mixing, and mastering. Pre-production is the rehearsal that is conducted prior to the session to make sure all involved are ready to put his/her contributions “to tape”. Unless an artist is planning to write in the studio, being unprepared is more often than not a cardinal sin in the recording world! It serves to slow the process and kill the vibe. If there is no rehearsal, e.g. a session musician, make sure all music has been communicated, any required sheet music is distributed, and everyone is aware of what they are expected to do. Please continue to follow the process of a “normal” music project. Back To Top
Tracking is the process of actually recording the material. This can take a varying amount of time, depending on preparedness and number of overdubs. For example, a three piece band with a clear vision that tracks all instrumental parts live, is well-rehearsed, and overdubs the lead and background vocals will likely be done much faster than a five piece that tracks each instrument separately, is not as prepared, takes time to write and change parts in the studio, and is unsure of the overall goal of the project. During tracking, all overdubs should be completed before moving on to mixing. As a very general estimate, after microphones are placed, acceptable sounds found, and levels set, a well-rehearsed live song can get basic tracks complete in approximately one to two hours. This allows for several takes, a miscue or two, and perhaps punch-ins if needed.
Depending on the amount of overdubs, a song can be completely tracked in two-three hours. Of course, this depends on a smooth session with prepared musicians. If parts are solid, there are few overdubs, and everyone is “on their game”, this process can actually go much quicker; likewise, the process can be much slower as well, etc. Each scenario is a bit different. Back To Top
Once tracking is complete, mixing may commence. This is an area that is often grossly underestimated in time estimations by artists. To use a past example of a confused expectation, a great mix of several songs cannot be achieved in an hour. (If there is an engineer who can do so, hats off to him or her. S/he should be a multi-millionaire in LA!) Please understand that each project is individual and we would love to chat with you about the specifics and time estimates of your project. However, with that disclaimer, since we often are asked “just make a rough guess”…using a fictional “average” four piece band with 15-30 tracks as an example, a demo-quality mix can be assembled quite quickly with generic effects and quick leveling of the tracks. A strong mix can generally be achieved in 2-4 hours. From there final tweaks usually are dictated by the budget, and will become more detailed as time allows. A safe bet for an average 15-30 track tune is a four hour session to get a strong mix, a break, and an additional two hours later for tweaks. If budget allows, we recommend taking the extra time to ensure the mixes are perfect before moving to the next step.
Again, depending on the specifics of your project, this might be a high or low number. Back To Top
Mastering is probably the most misunderstood and ignored step in the process. Many of our clients are surprised when we recommend their projects that have been tracked and mixed here at Lady Of Noise be mastered elsewhere. Why? Mastering is the last step before the work is presented to the public. For best results, we always recommend a reputable and experienced mastering engineer in an acoustically controlled environment finish the project. Is it a necessity? No, but we highly recommend it for professional results. However, if your budget dictates, we can prepare the files for distribution here. We call this “quasi-mastering” because you’re not utilizing the full benefits of having another set of ears in another space check the mixes. Here’s what not to do: do not get your song mastered by someone you’ve never met in a place you’ve never heard of for a price that seems too cheap. They are likely doing more harm than good, and our “quasi-mastering” process will be more useful to you. Lady Of Noise does not master music mixed elsewhere, although we can recommend some great mastering engineers. Just ask! Back To Top
Only you can decide how much time and effort to put into your projects. The digital revolution in music production has made it very easy for anyone with a few hundred dollars to be able to record. In many ways, this is a great thing. However, what the average hobbyist or musician-with-Garageband lacks is training, experience, and acoustically treated spaces. We’d love you to come in and check us out (free of charge) before using Craigslist guy down the street. Our (and our clients’) experience has been that Craigslist guy won’t cost much and it will sound like it. Back To Top
Not a problem! Jason will be on hand to answer questions for your engineer, get him/her comfortable, and assist as necessary. Back To Top
Please contact us to make sure we have all the necessary info and our specifications match. And bring them in! Back To Top
While we strive to be upfront and honest with clients, even if that means sometimes delivering bad news for the greater benefit of the project, we want you to have an excellent experience with us. We want you to tell your friends to come in! So if we’re not meeting your expectations and you don’t feel comfortable telling your engineer, please contact us here so that we can figure out how to quickly and easily resolve the issue. Back To Top