Q – Will you make your own judgement on how the mix should sound or would you like to know what kind of mixes I like?
A mixture of both. I like to hear your favourite mixes to get an idea of mix techniques, balance and tones you enjoy but I don’t religiously compare my work while going along. Reference tracks will primarily be used at the beginning of a mix to get me in the mindset and at the end I will compare to see if anything needs to be adjusted. I do also like to know what market you are going for (what radio station you’d like to end up on etc) so I can judge what is needed to make the mix commercial and competitive.
Q – With vocal tracks, would you take care of any unwanted noises such as intrusive swallows, breaths and other noises?
Vocals are key – I tend to spend a lot of time on them to ensure they are perfect. If I decide they require extra work, I will let you know before I start.
Q – How would you like to receive the stems volume wise? (Is it ok if some tracks are peaking?)
Send through the tracks at any level but please ensure that none are clipping. If I hear anything that’s too much of an issue, I will message you before proceeding.
Q – With instruments such as drums, would you prefer the tracks separated (kick, snare, toms etc) or summed together on a single track?
I would prefer the stems to be separate as sometimes muting one of the parts in the mix can be essential. Also, having the ability to go through and mix each part individually is important as an engineer.
Q – Are you happy to receive stems with effects such as reverb, delay, distortion already applied?
Only if the effects are integral to the track in terms of sound design. In general, I would much prefer to have a dry stem and use your rough mix as a reference to apply my own effect choices. In scenarios where you are unsure, it is best to send both over so there is no delay in the return of your mix.
Q – How can I get in touch with the studio?
A – Please either use our contact form or call us on 023 8033 0332.
Q – What is Pre-Production?
Pre-Production is the stage where an artist or band work with a producer to help refine their idea’s before production begins, to make sure they make the most of their time in the studio.
We do this to better understand your vision of the song and how we can get it there. This informal chat lets us offer any advice that we think might help benefit your song either musically or from a production perspective. We also tend to offer artist development/guidance in this time. Offering help on funding for current/future projects, or how to promote your work after it’s been recorded.
Q – Is payment up front or after the session?
A – For recording, songwriting and production, we will take a deposit up front to secure the booking, and the rest is payable before the final day in the studio. Most, if not all, work takes place within the session but for any tweaks or extra mixing work we run a timer within the project and charge an hourly rate of £25.
For purely mixing work, we take the agreed payment in advance.
Q – How long will it take to record a song/how much will it cost?
A – We like to treat each project and client individually in order to help the artist achieve their vision. Length of song, style, complexity and prior studio experience are all important factors. When you get in contact with us, we offer a free consultation to talk through with you what you want to make sure you everyone is on the same page.
If you would like to get in touch and get a quote, please click here.
Q – What is a Tonmeister?
A Tonmeister is a graduate of the internationally renowned course of the same name. The word literally translates from german as ‘sound master’. Tonmeisters are trained to have a deep understanding of the theoretical and practical knowledge related to sound recording. The title can only be achieved from a handful of institutions across the globe and spans both the arts and technology. This means you are in safe hands, knowing that Tom will be able to bring your musical vision to life with his unique and prestigious skill set.
The course from which Tom graduated at the University of Surrey is still running; for more information on the Tonmeister degree click here.
Q – What hours do you work?
A – Our typical session runs between 10am-6pm, seven days a week, but evening/late night sessions are available on request.
Q – What if I have to cancel?
A – In the unfortunate event you have to cancel your session, the following will apply:
Deposits are non-refundable, but can be moved to a new date if given 7 days notice of cancellation.
If you cancel your session with less than 7 days notice, the deposit will be kept. If you wish to book another date, you can pay a deposit on a new date.
The full day’s rate is payable if cancellation is on the day of the session.
Q – Is there parking available?
A – Being so centrally located, during the day (10am-6pm) we don’t have client parking, however, if it is after 6pm or a weekend we can arrange parking on site if notified in advance. We recommend parkopedia to help you find somewhere to park.
Q – What options are there if I want to commute to the studio?
A – Being in the heart of Southampton there are a number of different ways you can get to us. We are 15 minutes walk, or a short taxi ride from Southampton Central train station, where there is also a National Expresscoach stop. There is a bus route along London Road which is around the corner from us and Southampton Airport is also within easy reach of the studio.
Q – What accommodation options are available if I wish to do multiple days but am not local to Southampton?
A – There are a number of local options if you are looking for somewhere to stay in Southampton. These include Jurys Inn, a Premier Inn close by at Cumberland Place, numerous airbnbs, all of which cost roughly £30 for a night (correct at time of writing, prices may vary.)
Q – How should I send my files for mixing?
A -We will be launching our online mixing page soon. If you want to enquire about the service get in touch here:
Q – What should I bring to the session?
A – Songwriters: Lyric sheets, demo recordings and reference tracks will help if your song has already been written. A Logic/GarageBand project or chord sheet is also useful (if applicable). If you are writing in the studio, everything you need will be available for you.
Bands & Artists: We have a great selection of guitars, basses, software and hardware synthesisers, and drums that you’re more than welcome to use (see our equipment list here.) although we would suggest at least bringing drum breakables, guitars, bass and pedals. Please bring along anything you think will help you as a songwriter such as books, lyric sheets, reference tracks, song structure charts etc. It’s no bad thing to bring everything you would take to an important gig.
Q – What are reference tracks?
A – This is a playlist of songs that capture the mood or production style of the songs you want to record. They can be specific (“Please make my drums sound like Led Zeppelin – When The Levee Breaks”) or broader (“Can we make my track sound like X artist?”). This is useful for songwriting, recording, mixing and mastering to help us understand your goals, aspirations and inspirations. Spotify playlists are encouraged, but CDs or USB sticks are fine.
It’s worth noting the difference between songwriting and mixing/production reference tracks. Songwriting reference tracks help with the composition of the song, helping us establish with the structure, arrangements, instrument choice etc., while mixing/production reference tracks demonstrate what you would like the overall sound of the finished song to sound like and are often what’s in the charts in the genre or style you want to be successful in.
Q – How should I treat my voice before tracking?
A – In the days leading up to your session, try not to strain your voice. We also encourage you to get good nights’ sleep, keep well hydrated throughout, and avoid cigarettes, dairy products, citrus fruits and spicy foods before recording. If your voice is feeling hoarse, drink lukewarm water, herbal tea or honey and lemon, and rest your voice as much as possible before coming to the studio.
We’d recommend that you warm up your voice 15-20 minutes before tracking. Gentle humming and lip trills are a good place to start but to learn more about vocal warm-ups, we’d recommend reading this blog on the topic.
Please make sure you learn the lyrics off by heart. You’ll be able to give a much more honest performance if you know exactly what you’re singing. Also be prepared to do multiple takes, as it lets us select the best bits to ensure that you sound great.
If you want more information on vocal technique, or have a vocal coach go over your song with you, we recommend Natasha Gibson.
Q –How should a guitarist/bassist prepare for the session?
A – If possible please try to get your guitar or bass set up professionally before the session. We recommend Jake Parkhurst or Steve at Southsea Guitar Center. At the least make sure your instrument is not suffering from any hums, crackles or buzz. Spare strings are also encouraged – just in case!
Q – How should a drummer prepare for the session?
A – If you’re using your own kit, if possible try to re-head your shells before the session to get them to sound their best. Please make sure your cymbals don’t have any cracks in them, and oil all moving parts of the kit so they don’t squeak. Our engineers can assist with tuning during the session.
Q – What is overdubbing?
In the studio you are not just restricted to playing or singing one part at a time, as recording lets you overdub multiple layers to add texture and depth to your recordings. Guitarists and vocalists should think about any extra parts or adlibs you may not be able to do in a live situation i.e. vocal harmonies, lead parts, extra rhythm parts, tones, backing or gang vocals. etc
Q – I’ve not recorded my music in a studio before, what is the process?
A – Don’t worry if you haven’t had studio experience before – we will do our best to make the process as straightforward as possible, and for you to feel at home in our studio. Our recording sessions usually go like this: guide track recording, tracking, comping, editing, mixing, and finally mastering (this may not all happen in one day!) You may not be needed for all of the session (e.g. mixing/vocal tuning, etc.) so it may be worth bringing a quiet source of entertainment. We’d recommend you bring a good book and have a number in the studio.
Q – Can I bring extra people in to the studio?
A – We understand that additional support of family or friends can be great for morale, and you are welcome to bring someone with you if you need. However, this is your time, and your creative process is the most important aspect of the day. From our experience, the best results are from sessions with just those part of the creative process in the room.
Q – Can you get session musicians to play on my recording?
A – For most tracks we tend to do everything in-house, however, we are heavily involved in the music scene in Southampton, and know a number of specialist musicians who will be the right fit for your track. Please get in touch with us if you think this is something you would be interested in.
Q – Can I sit in on a session / intern / assist you?
A – We currently have an intern called Liam, who’s doing a great job. We won’t be looking for another just yet. Tom also offers private one to one production tuition, as well as a production masterclass as part of his work with The Songwriting Academy.
We also allow other engineers to dry hire the studio if they are up to our standard. If you would like to enquire please get in contact and send us links to a concise CV and established Portfolio.
By joining our mailing list here we will keep you updated with any available vacancies.
Q – How do I receive my finished mixes?
A – Via WeTransfer/email. Deadlines for mixes are set during our consultations. Please note, mixes won’t be sent without full payment.
Q – What file format do I receive my final mix in?
A – 44.1khz/24bit WAV file, unless otherwise discussed.
However we can also do instrumentals stems, as well as mp3 encoded with metadata and mastered for iTunes files if requested although there may be an additional fee for the time involved.
Q – Can I get something changed with my mix after it’s finished?
A – Our studio is set up to make both mix tweaks and working on older projects as seamless as possible. Whether mixed days or years before we are able to instantly recall everything. We also provide a live high-quality stream of the mix to anywhere in the world, live from the studio. This allows you to listen in and send us comments while we make tweaks live which often speeds this process up. Depending on the amount, nature, and time needed there may be additional charges, but within reason, we try to complete any tweaks you need for free.