thestudio

General Information

Voted #1 In the World, by us! This is stylish, professional recording in NC, USA. With a spacious, high-fidelity building and equipment representing a lifetime of refined accumulation, we offer you an exceptional recording experience.

The studio was designed by Wes Lachot and is based on proven acoustical principles, the Golden Mean, and prime number sequences. Additionally, feng shui, cosmic, and mojo factors loom large, we’re pretty sure. All this makes for a good Sound you will notice immediately. There is natural light everywhere. For the domestically inclined we have a nice kitchen and there’s a room with bunk beds for camping enthusiasts.

Coming soon: Even more glamorous lodgings at the new Band Cabana, rated 5 stars by us.

We have an exceptional number of interesting instruments on hand. We think that you need to be in close proximity to instruments, they are inspiring to look at and even better when played. In addition to a significant heap of guitars, amps, and drum sets, we have pianos, organs of all types, a Chamberlin, Mellotron, ancient synths, a Baldwin Electric Harpsichord, and a Clavioline. And more — we are always shopping!

The recording equipment is an ever-evolving scene and we guarantee an entertaining range of choices no matter how you prefer to work. We like everything that makes sound and therefore we have an up-to-date Pro Tools HD system with superior Prism Sound converters, a big selection of analog tape machines, a one-of-a-kind 1970s console, and a serious selection of outboard processing gear from the 1950s through the 2000s. We are probably the only place around with 3 reverb plates, an echo chamber, and 4 reverb springs. Of course, “there’s a plug in for that” but you know it’s not the same! Here, you can put your hands on all sorts of hot and possibly dangerous equipment and that is simply the best way to get Heavy Results.

Kernersville, NC
36º6’58″N 80º4″55″W

Kernersville on Google Maps

Located between Winston-Salem and Greensboro, Kernersville is a small town with more food choices than you might expect, close proximity to the airport, 24 hour groceries, and an astounding selection of auto parts stores and nail salons.

All this, plus Fidelitorium Recordings = NC’s Home of Rock!

 

Our Cheerful Staff


Mitch EasterMitch Easter
attempted to commence his musical career after seeing A Hard Day’s Night at the Bel Air Drive-In Theater. While the resulting sessions on the family tape recorder must never be heard by anybody, ever, it is notable that 16 years later, Mitch opened a studio called Drive-In. This unlikely garage operation produced loads of significant recordings by bands like R.E.M., the dB’s, Pylon, Let’s Active, and Game Theory.

After 13 years in the garage, the massive sounds of bands like Motocaster led to a move from the garage and into an old house where interesting sessions by Helium, Polvo, Sun Volt, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Pavement, and Wilco took shape. And then it seemed like it was Time to open a Proper Recording Space, so in 2000 Fidelitorium Recordings opened with a smashing party and the mix sessions for the Orange Humble Band. Since then Mitch has done sessions with Big Troubles, James Husband, The John Brown Big Band, Ben Folds Five, Birds of Avalon, The Temperance League, and many more Stars. He enjoys Guitars, Girls, Motorcycles, and Dogs, when not Hangin’ Ten.

Ted Comerford
Ted Comerford
‘s lifelong love of music has taken him through every twist and turn of performing and recording. His over 15 years experience has given him a comprehensive knowledge of How It All Works- at record labels, on stage, and in the recording studio. Artists working with Ted invariably have a great experience and frequently return to collaborate on their next record and beyond! Recent projects include Jonas Sees in Color, Colin Healy, and Jukebox the Ghost. Ted considers himself a Sonic Instigator, and for more about what this means, see tedcomerford.com

 

 

Jeff CrawfordJeff Crawford began as an upstart classical musician, but quickly adopted a spot along the rock/folk spectrum.  His early work recording work was during his stints in bands such as SpencerAcuff, Max Indian, and Roman Candle, under the able tutelage of David Henry in Nashville, and Tim Carless and Chris Stamey in Chapel Hill.  In 2005, he began recording in his home studio Arbor Ridge Studios.  Since then, the studios have grown, producing songs by artists such as Mount Moriah, Josh Moore and Ryan Gustafson, and entire albums by artists such as Mandolin Orange, Chris Stamey, Luego, Brett Harris, The Tomahawks, and The Gathering Church.   A former Winstonian, Crawford loves geriatric record collections, Westerns, sandwich culture, and is the resident historian/expert on all things Disney.

 

Bob EngelBob Engel has been a professional audio engineer for the past 10 years.  A longtime resident of Florida, he attended Full Sail University in 2002.  Bob started his audio career in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2003 and become a freelance Recording and Mixing Engineer in 2007.  Over this time he’s had pleasure of working with wide range of artists, including: Joe Walsh (The Eagles), Anthony Hamilton, Brian Vander Ark (Verve Pipe), James Brown, The Exies,  s.o. stereo,  Colin Healy,  Sea of Cortez,  Against Grace,  Lindsay Ryan Horne and Jonas Sees In Color.   Bob has also had the distinct honor of working with some of music’s top Producers, including:  Mark Batson, Ted Comerford,  Don Dixon,  Mitch Easter,  Bruce Irvine,  Bruce Swedien,  Scott Solter,  Bill Szymczyk,  Fred Wesley and  Kelvin Wooten.

 


Amanda LindseyAmanda Lindsey
, currently serving as Studio Manager, Loyal Assistant to Mitch Easter, and Mystic Visionary, Amanda began her career in music at the age of 8 with her first all-girl band, Sassy, who later broke up because the other members thought she was too bossy. As a part-time student of Biology at UNC Chapel Hill, Amanda divides her time equally between the Sciences, the Arts, and talking long walks with her dog, Dink. Writing and performing in a multitude of bands over the years, her most recent musical endeavors include Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies, Glass Daffodil, and Quelle Surprise. She loves harpsichords, loud guitars, old combo organs, giant crystals, Minoan Crete, Joe Meek, yoga, and people who send in their deposits on time and put their recycling in the correct bin. She is an Aquarius and her favorite records ever are Helium’s “Magic City” and Soft Machine “Vol. 1.”

 


Liz MayLiz May
As the owner of SoundLizzard Productions, Realizzation Records, and Coda Publishing, Liz has spent the last decade of her life not only engineering, but synthesizing her many areas of expertise within the Triad’s musical community and beyond. After studying Piano and Arts Management at Salem College , she relocated to Nashville to intern at  Word Records and attend SAE Institute, where she became a Nashville-certified engineer. After working as an assistant engineer and publicist for Spin Red Productions, Liz returned to North Carolina in 2006 where she first began work at Fidelitorium . In 2007, she recorded, edited, and mixed her first full-length feature film, Wesley, in surround sound.  In addition to running a production company, record label, and publishing company, Liz also runs a non-profit, Habitat-Nexus, which maintains a database of skilled session players around the Triad. For more information about Liz, see soundlizzard.com

 

Nicholas T. Petersen

Nicholas T. Petersen is an audio engineer and musician who currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC. With over ten year’s experience in audio, Nick has recorded, mixed, and mastered close to 1,000 records, and has traveled the world as live sound engineer. Comfortable in both analog and digital formats, Nick has also worked on about every genre of music ranging from Bon Iver’s “For Emma Forever Ago,” to The Melvins “Pick your Battles,” as well recording and mastering work on Merge’s XX anniversary shows.

 

Session Considerations

Every session is different and any advice we offer is given entirely in the spirit of “get ‘er done”, but always at the highest levels of Art and possibly Commerce. There is never just one way to do things, and every session has its own pace and requirements. A common theme is usually tight budgets, so here are some ideas for getting the most out of them:

Please bring a good, fast drive we can do your project on. That way we won’t run out of room on one of ours, have to waste time copying, etc.

Get your instruments in good shape so they won’t drive you crazy going out of tune or rattling or squawking or any of those things that seem to get worse the minute you put a microphone on them. Absolutely brand-new strings are not always a good idea, nor are untouched drum heads. Usually things need to settle in a bit, although of course you may need to change heads and strings in the course of a session.

You are welcome to use any of our musical equipment but by all means bring anything you like, are used to, or whatever.

If possible, please figure out as much as possible in advance! A common time-waster is backing vocals that are not quite figured out. Unless you are doing “football cheer” vocals, usually backing parts have to be rhythmically tighter and more in tune than the lead vocal!

Consider that almost everybody tries to do too much in a day. Ideally we want to take enough care to get truly good takes and move forward with solid progress every day. As the project progresses you want the playback of yesterday’s session to confirm that, in fact, you ARE a genius. Keeping the lengths of work days reasonable means that you can work day after day without getting frazzled.

Please eat meals, and at normal times! This will keep you going in the long run. The Cheerful Staff has to do this every day, so we have to try to have some vestige of normal biorhythms, otherwise we could drop dead while mixing the Hit, which would completely wreck plans for the Release Party. There is a reasonable range of restaurant food around here, a couple of delivery places, lots of grocery stores, and our famous Kitchen.

Consider that rough mixes are often a waste of time. I note these are being called “bounces” lately, as though they happen instantly at the push of a button. Maybe that is true in some kind of ultimate computer alternate universe, but here in Hardware Land it means we have to run the song through a few times and mess with levels and get something vaguely listenable and it takes awhile. We are happy to do this but it’s part of your session day. Rough mixes really only make sense as something to take away when the project is taking a break and you’ll be using these as a guide to figure out new parts, or do overdubs at home.

Please let us know if you have a specific approach you want to take and we’ll give it a whirl. There really are no rules!

If You Are Sending Us Something to Mix, May We Suggest…
(including format considerations)

ANALOG TAPE

Please put tones at the head. Tell us if it’s NAB or IEC and what kind of noise reduction was used, if applicable.

So easy!

DIGITAL

We have Pro Tools, so if you used Pro Tools you don’t need to do much aside from throwing away anything we won’t need. The big time-waster on any DAW project is sifting through a huge number of tracks and figuring out what they are. We always want to start listening right away! “Choice” has become a word to dread when it’s presented in terms of “here are 10 takes of everything so you can choose the best one!” No, we really don’t want to do that, and it’s a waste of your money to have us clear out clutter. Please send us the good stuff, only. If there must be alternates to consider, please indicate this in the comments box. You can make these decisions for the lowest cost but we’ll decide if you want us to, it will just make things take longer.

It’s best if you don’t consolidate tracks. I often encounter consolidated tracks that include imperfect crossfades, audible punch-ins, etc. so it’s best if we can re-visit these if they are audible. Leave plug-ins in place. If we have the same ones we might want to use your settings. If a sound you got with a plug-in is exactly what you want, and therefore essential, please print the results as a new audio track and delete the original in the copy you send us in case we don’t have plug-ins you used to create the sounds.

We don’t need level information from a mix you may have done. I won’t be mixing “in the box”, so what I need are good tracks to bring out to the console. The exception would be some kind of special-effects section you’ve built up, something where you’ve spent time working out exactly what you want. Anything like that should be printed as finished audio tracks.

What I want to do is mix, so any organization that helps that happen quickly is great! For me, this isn’t a matter of things like color-coding, even though that is fine and nice to look at. It is important to give descriptive names to the tracks! “Clean guitar 2″ is way better than “Nate 2″. Some hyper-organized approaches actually get in the way, in my opinion. “Rhythm gtr 2″ should be on one track, even if it has a different sound on the chorus. Please don’t create additional tracks of the same instrument to distinguish sections of the song! The important thing is keeping the amount of information under control so that our time is mostly spent on the sounds, not the organization.

OTHER DIGITAL FORMATS

Most systems can deliver audio as .wav files, so if you give us those, with all the tracks starting at the same time, we should have no trouble playing them. In this situation, please do check your crossfades and punch-ins, clean them up, and consolidate tracks. (By “consolidate” I mean make the track a continuous file, from the start of the song to the end, including all silent sections.) It’s the timing and structural information that’s lost when you go between different recording platforms. We need to have continuous tracks from start to finish.

If the solo starts at 1:42:03, and it’s silence until then, we need that silence! Otherwise the solo will start at the beginning of the song. This is not an issue if you are working in Pro Tools.

DIGITAL TAPES

We can usually get at least one ADAT machine working to copy these tapes into Pro Tools. I say “usually” because these old clunkers don’t get much use and are getting old. The same is true for DAT tapes. We don’t have any other digital tape formats, but we can recommend resources for all kinds of transfers.

ANALOG to DIGITAL TRANSFERS

We can play almost any analog format aside from the “semi-pro” 1″ 16 track and 24 track formats. Currently we can play 1/4″ 2 track, 1/4″ 4 track, 1/2″ 2 track, 1/2″ 4 track, 1/2″ 8 track, 1″ 8 track, 2″ 16 track, and 2″ 24 track. We have Dolby A and Dolby SR but we don’t have dbx, Dolby B or Dolby C, or Telcom c4.

Tapes made from the late 1970s through the 1990s may now suffer from the “sticky shed” problem, depending on the manufacturer and storage conditions, but these tapes will usually play back pretty well if they are baked for several hours in a convection oven at low temperatures. Older tapes do not have this problem! I routinely bake most of the tapes we get in and so far have been able to successfully transfer everything we’ve encountered. Keep in mind it’s fairly time-consuming process. A 2″ reel needs 8 hours or so in the oven, followed by a slow cool-down, and then if the tape has tones, we align our machine to those for accurate reproduction. If there are no tones, I play a section to determine what the fluxivity probably was, and align our machine using a standard reproducer alignment tape. The frequency response may not perfectly the match the alignment of the original recorder but it will probably be close and sound good. In cases where the original recorder seems to have been far out of alignment, we’ll try to align our machine by ear to get the best sound off the tape.

MIX FORMATS

We can deliver mixes as .wav files at any sampling rate between 44.1KHz and 96KHz. If we are mixing back into Pro Tools, we are locked in to the sampling rate of the original session, but with our very good converters this doesn’t really matter too much. I usually do Pro Tools sessions at 96KHz/24 bits, because, why not? With digital audio more is more, and storage is dirt cheap.

I think some projects benefit from mixing to analog tape. This is not expensive, the typical full-length album will require two reels of tape, which will cost between $75 and $100 each. This is indeed more than the $0.00 it costs for media when mixing back into Pro Tools! Some things really do sound better coming back off the tape, and when this is true it’s worth the cost. And when is this true? It’s unpredictable! If you are interested in comparing formats we’ll be happy to demonstrate. There’s no hard and fast rule about the kind of music that benefits from mixing to analog tape. This is weird, slippery stuff but we are pleased to offer various formats and you can let your ears decide. If you do mix to tape, many of the high end mastering studios still use analog machines, but if your mastering place can’t play tapes we can make a high-res digital copy which will retain much of the tape character.

FAQ

Hello! What do you say we skip the tiresome Mission Statement and pointless speechifying and go straight to the Questions?

Q. My phone contains a Recording Studio. Why do I need you?
A. If you love the recordings you’re making and your friends have heard your recordings and have declared you a Genius, you don’t! We recommend you get your attorneys working on a Super Bowl halftime spot and some product endorsements. You might want to get the order in on the Yacht, while you’re at it.

Q. Everybody I know has a Studio. Why is that?
A. I have no idea. People who operate electronic equipment used to be geeks, now it is a path to being a Badass. This is some kind of sociological shift which is beyond me.

Q. Seriously, why should we record at Fidelitorium Recordings?
A. Because a) You would like to just play music and let somebody else worry about getting it recorded, b) you suspect that people doing this all the time will get good sounds, c) you realize that going to a place dedicated to getting music accomplished is the best environment to accomplish this in, or d) you want an Experience!

Q. How much does it cost?
A. The Official Rate is $600/day if you work with Mitch Easter. $400/day to work with one of our Esteemed and Highly Qualified Staff Engineers. Please find everybody’s Biography and Glamour Photo above. It’s always possible come up with a project flat rate if you’re doing a lot of work here. Although everything is supposed to be FREE!!! nowadays, somehow we still have to pay for electricity, etc. and we definitely need that to record you.

Q. That is still expensive.
A. Not really, think about how much you spend on gas and groceries every week. While essential, these things will not make you Famous like recording at our place will!

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 the most, er, wasted session burned up half its budget on, er, 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’t 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.)” It’s a time business, you know, and most records are built up from overdubbing, and it just takes time. 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 are trying to do superhuman things on no money (or, in no time), but this only gets really good results 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 and money 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, but we are happy to work on hybrid projects where we do certain parts of it, but not everything.

Q. What about mixing?
A. I think mixing on a “real” “pro” analog console almost always has sonic benefits. I enjoy mixing things recorded in all kinds of situations and we almost always can 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 is useful, you know.

Q. What kind of “pre’s” do you have?
A. The ones in the console, Junior! Acceptable-sounding records by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, any countless other audio luminaries were done without any notion of using a vast pallet of microphone preamplifiers, so I rest my case. The rise of low-cost recording equipment led to many people having experience with 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!