FAQ with Mitch Easter
Q. My phone contains a Recording Studio. Why do I need you?
A. You may not! People are doing amazing things on strange and tiny devices and it's all legit if people like listening to the results. But if a) you would like to just play music and let somebody else worry about getting it recorded, b) you need great acoustics, c) lots of instruments, and d) an Experience, you should work here!
Q. Why did people used to spend at least $50,000 making a record? It was the drugs, wasn't it?
A. Not really. Even if a session burned up half its budget on refreshments, you'd still have enough money left to do some real work. It was really not OK to release terrible-sounding records, not if you expected anybody to actually care about them, and it just plain takes awhile to do this right.
Q. Our songs are only 3 minutes long. Can we record our full-length record in one day?
A. No! Or, Yes!, if you do everything live and the mix happens live, and you are incredibly well-rehearsed and know what you actually sound like so you won't hear the playback and go, "oh, I need to re-sing everything" and "I want to re-do that solo, and…(etc.)" Even if you are a one-take wonder vocalist it's still going to take 20 minutes or so to do a vocal, so multiply that by 12 songs and there's 4 hours. And nobody should sing for 4 hours straight! People often set superhuman goals for their session but this only works for superhumans. For regular humans, you need to be realistic about how long things take and recognize that people get tired, need to eat, and to do this thing you care about, you need to feel good. A well-paced session can be pretty fast- we've done a lot of really good, totally "pro" records that took about 3 weeks. In that length of time we could experiment with sounds / instruments / approaches, and do un-rushed mixes. This is a fraction of the time spent on most commercial records, and we get great results at this pace.
Q. But we can only do 4 days at your place.
A. No problem! This is where your phone or whatever can save the day! If you do the "big" sounds here, whatever your basic music track consists of, overdubs done elsewhere can be flown back into the original master and it can sound great. If you do, say, backing vocals on any kind of OK microphone into some kind of OK recording system, they will sound just fine. The limitations of home recordings usually show up on things like drums where you are recording a demanding acoustic instrument, and where room acoustics, and the quality of the recording chain may be apparent. But loads of overdubs can be done anywhere. You can do perfectly good lead vocals on your phone while walking the woods, maybe… all this depends on the kind of music it is and the kind of sound you need. We are happy to work on hybrid projects where we do certain parts of it, but not everything.
Q. What about mixing?
A. Mixing on a "real" "pro" analog console almost always has sonic benefits. We mix things recorded in all kinds of situations and we can almost always improve the sonics of homebrew sessions. In addition to the wide range of equipment available here, you get the benefit of Experienced People, which really can be useful.
Q. What kind of "pre's" do you have?
A. The ones in the console, Junior! Countless glorious-sounding records by audio/musical luminaries have been made without any notion of using a vast palette of microphone preamplifiers. The rise of low-cost recording equipment led to many people experiencing only unsatisfying low-cost console mic preamps, which led to the use of outboard units scavenged from Real, Expensive recording consoles, which led to the idea that only outboard preamps were any good. This is not true if you have a top-notch console! But, if you have a 500 Series rack full of exotic preamplification and you love something on the snare or whatever, by all means, bring it to the session and we'll hook it up. The more the merrier!
Q. Should I record to tape?
A. Only if you really want to! The sound of a healthy analog tape machine is almost always euphonious, smooth and big. You might enjoy the experience of recording on tape, it changes the mindset a little and things may go faster. If you like the editing capabilities of the computer, go with the computer. The sonic differences are subtle.
Q. Do you ever offer discounts?