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How long does it take to record?

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer. We are of course asked this regularly, and the answer is never straightforward as it depends on so many things. As a rule of thumb however, if a full band (drums, guitar, bass, vocals etc.) wants to come in to do a first demo we would recommend two days in Studio 2. This because it can take up to 3 or 4 hours to even get the drum kit mic’d up and ready to go. Then the recording starts, and assuming that the band are prepared and there aren’t any parts still to be written, then hopefully they can get the majority of the parts recorded before the end of the first day. On the second day, any remaining parts/vocals will be recorded and the mixing with start. We would also only recommend that 2 or 3 songs be attempted by a full band in this way. Mixing can take quite a while and you certainly don’t want to rush it.

Saying all this however, there are many different types of artist who want to record with many different types of setup and so the above example won’t always apply. An instrumental artist playing only guitar might be able to get 4 tracks recorded in one day, and even mixed too if the setup is simple. Also, the artist coming in without a drum kit benefits from not having to spend so much time setting it up, so some folk & traditional bands find they can work a lot quicker as a result.

The amount of music to be recorded also has a huge impact. An artist coming in to record an album will have to think about the amount of instrumentation involved, whether all of the parts are ready or whether some improvisation might take place, which can take up time. It all depends on how the artist works creatively, as well as practically.

Add to this the choice of studio and things change again. The benefit of Studio 1’s large live room, vocal booth and amp booths means that a full band can pretty much record live simultaneously, without any worries about bleed between tracks. This can save a huge amount of time and leave only vocals to be tracked later on, then the mixing. An album can be recorded in this way in as little as one week, and mixed the next.

The best thing to do is phone us and have a chat about your plans. We can guide you towards booking the right amount of time, and in some cases the best thing is just to book one day and see what rate you will be working at. Then more time can be booked where necessary.

Can I take my audio files away with me once I’m finished recording?

Yes you can. The form in which you take your files away will depend on how you intend to use them however.

If you are transferring to another ProTools computer, we would simply transfer your ProTools folder onto your own Mac compatible hard drive for you to take away. This folder would include the ProTools session files, audio files, fade files and session file backups i.e. everything to allow another ProTools package to open up your session so you can continue working. N.B. Please check which version of ProTools you will be using so we can check compatibility with our system.

Alternatively, you may not be planning on using ProTools to work on your files in which case you would need the raw WAV audio files, consolidated, or ‘zeroed’ so that every audio file starts at the beginning of the track and all files are lined up correctly allowing for importing into a new software package as raw data ready for synchronised playback . This can be a time consuming process and may incur a charge.

In any case of file transfer we would require that you bring in your own Mac compatible hard drive. Transfer onto DVD is sometimes possible if the file sizes are small but this is not recommended as the session files have to be split up over a number of discs making the process fiddly and a little unreliable.

It is very helpful if you know what system the files are going to be used on, i.e. what software and whether Mac or PC so we can advise on the best way to provide you with your files.

Please contact us to discuss your requirements in more detail, as every situation is a little different.

Do you provide mastering services?

Yes! We have recently begun offering a mastering service for singles, EPs and full albums.

Go to the Mastering page to find out more.

Can I hire any backline?

Yes – we have a selection of backline equipment and various instruments that are free to use if available. The only exception to this is hire of the drum kit which is £20 + VAT and the tuning of the piano which is £50 + VAT.
See below for more detail:

N.B. PLEASE NOTIFY US BEFOREHAND OF EQUIPMENT YOU MAY WISH TO USE SO WE CAN MAKE SURE IT WILL BE AVAILABLE DURING YOUR RECORDING SESSION… THANKS.

Drums: (£20 + VAT daily hire charge)
A 4-piece Pearl Masters Custom drum kit comprising a kick drum, floor tom and rack tom. We request that where possible the drummer provides their own kick drum pedal, cymbals and snare. An extra tom might be a good idea to provide too if possible.

Guitar amps: (subject to availability)
Vox AC30
Marshall combo circa 70’s
Marshall 4140 ‘Club and Country’ circa 70’s
Fender Pro Reverb
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe

Bass amp:
Ampeg Head & Cabinet (8×10) SVT2 Pro

Guitars:
Rickenbacker 330
Epiphone ‘Sunburst’ with Humbucker pick up
Schecter Hellcat Baritone Guitar
Fender Jazz Bass American Standard

Pianos & Keyboards:
Upright Piano (Brodmann) – In both Studios 1 and 2 – (£50 + VAT fee to tune specially for session)
Wurlitzer Piano – Shared between both studios
Korg MS2000 keyboard
Casiotone Keyboard circa 80’s with one finger chord function
Glockenspiel (with some keys missing)

Various:
Hammer Dulcimer
Mandolin
Various Percussion – Shaker / Tambourines / Triangle
Penny Whistle
2 African Drums (Clay and Wood with skin on top)

You have more than one studio. What’s the difference between them?

We have two separate recording/mixing studios within our building and each offers different benefits.

Studio 1 offers a large and flexible live room (7 x 6 x 3.3m), with additional large vocal booth and amp booths, making separated live recording possible. It is also fantastic for mixing with its SSL AWS 948 desk as it has such a good amount of outboard gear in the control room. The live room is a popular space to record drums in, as well as strings, as a bigger area is usually preferable to allow strings to be recorded at their best. See more on the Studio 1 page.

Studio 2 has the one live room (6 x 5 x 3.3m). A lovely Audient Zen desk offers the same great quality recording standards as in Studio 1, but with more of a focus on an overdub, layered style of recording. This studio is great for tracking, or those who just don’t need as much space, or have a simpler set up. Its slightly smaller size has no impact on its band recording capabilities though – we’ve had plenty full bands set up in the live room and record and mix complete albums with fantastic results. See more on the Studio 2 page.

Each studio benefits from sharing the same high quality microphone collection, which can be viewed on the studio pages.

How do I choose which studio to use?

This will depend on a number of things. What instruments you are recording, your preferred style of recording, how quickly you wish to record and budget. These will all have an impact on your choice of studio.

Typically, a full band recording an album will, if budget allows, record and mix in the bigger Studio 1. This is because that studio allows the band the flexibility of recording completely live if they want to, with for example, the drums set up in the main room, the bass cabinet in the vocal booth and the guitar amps in the amp booths located at the end of the building. This way the band can all play, and record together whilst hearing what each other is doing. The recorded tracks don’t interfere with each other in this case, as all the different instruments are in different, soundproofed spaces.

The other reason for recording in Studio 1 is the sheer flexibility of the set up. With so many different spaces to place instruments, the band can set up at the beginning of the sessions and not worry about having to set up and break down the gear every time a new instrument has to be recorded.

Studio 1 is also a wonderful studio to mix in with its variety of analogue gear/effects and plug-ins.

Studio 2, by contrast, is a smaller studio but is by no means any less effective when delivering a quality recording. With only the one, but good sized room, it is perfect for acoustic artists who only need the one space when playing with just a few instruments, and with a piano also being present in Studio 2 the options are further extended.

As well as the smaller acoustic act, Studio 2 can also be the ideal space for those in a band who wish to play live together in the same room and are not concerned with the natural blending of recorded tracks that will result from recording without real separation. Sometimes this natural mix is exactly what a band wants and it can suit many types of artist e.g. folk artists, rockabilly bands etc… i.e. those bands that want a live band feel that can only be achieved with everyone in the same room. Some control can be exercised over separation in the room using acoustic baffles to create a ‘den’ for some instruments, allowing for more control, but the live feel will always remain.

Can I use both studios over the one recording?

Yes you can and this is a very popular choice with artists who are trying to maximize their budget without compromising on quality of recording.

A band may choose to record drums and bass, live in Studio 1, to benefit from its drum sound, and them move into Studio 2 on a different day to record overdubs and vocals. Then on a different day again, they may choose to stay in Studio 2 to mix or alternatively move back in to Studio 1 once again to take advantage of the broader range of outboard gear and effects.

Every recording project has different equipment needs and budget constraints, but with both studios as an option, there will always be a way to make a project work.

Is there a minimum recording time I am required to hire?

Yes there is – a half day (5 hours).

This is due to setup time and the time it takes to get a real body of work done in any one session. With every job, the engineer must assess what instruments are being recorded, and in what style, and then set up the mics and equipment accordingly. Every job is different as every artist is unique and what might suit one artist’s setup will be unlikely to suit the next, even if they both play the same instruments. Even a simple acoustic guitar & vocal setup will differ from one person to the next – each guitar requires a slightly different treatment, and every voice is unique and may respond better to different microphones. It is the engineer’s job to spend time on the setup in order to record that artist in a way that will capture their own sound.

Should I bring my own equipment?

We would always recommend that an artist / band bring their own instruments. They will more than likely have rehearsed the material they will be recording using that equipment, and so will be familiar with its sound and its feel. Changing a band’s equipment can greatly alter the sound of the whole band and so it’s important to maintain that equipment choice where possible.

Saying that however, Chem19 does have a selection of guitar amps, which are available for use (if available) for no charge. Experimenting with new amps, new sounds and new combinations of guitars and amps can result in that unique and unexpected sound that a track might need.

We also have a 4 piece drum kit that can be hired (£20 + VAT) if need be, although we always request that the drummer brings his/her own cymbals, snare drum and kick drum pedal as these things are often very personal to a drummer.