YOUR RECORDING SESSION
by Mark King for proworkshop.com
Proworkshop minimizes set up time by using a digital mixing console that is capable of taking a snapshot of every parameter and storing it for recall. We have several “presets” we’ve created that help reduce set up time, these are stored in the digital mixer and are recallable instantly.
The sound of the drums are picked up by a collection of custom built large diaphragm condenser microphones which have been carefully placed to minimize phase cancellation and maximize tone.
To hear all these isolated remote sounds we use a headphone system that lets each musician easily adjust all the volumes they're hearing. Things like drums, bass, guitars and vocals can all be easily balanced together in each musicians headphones so it sounds and feels like you're playing together live. This is really important in getting a good "feel" recorded.
It’s rare that a drummer can replace drum tracks with the right feel, this is why they must be captured correctly in the first tracking session, everybody else will play along with these tracks when their parts get recorded.
Even Stewert Copeland, arguably one of the world’s best studio drummers says “I will have to live with the drum track I lay down at the beginning of the process, it’s got to be right”.
ITB OR OTB MIXING
Over the last 30 years many recording and mixing options have become available to studios, the biggest of which are the invention and adoption of computers to replace tape recorders.
In smaller studios it is common to use ITB (In The Box) mixing (Box refers to the PC hosting the recording software). This process uses a computer running recording software to record the tracks and then mix them using an on-screen virtual mixer and software signal processors called plugins. This style of mixing requires much less equipment and wiring and is generally much lower cost to implement than the traditional style of studio mixing using a large mixing console, patchbay and effects hardware.
The Proworkshop studio uses a hybrid approach, we record with a digital mixer and mix through a custom built mixing console using Soundcraft and Neve components. This style of OTB (Outside The Box) mixing requires a lot of wiring and hardware but is capable of much better sound. Great results can be achieved much faster because hardware processors can remain plugged in to standard locations.
The OTB hybrid approach gives us excellent EQ on every mixer channel; premium hardware signal processing may be inserted on to any track and the eight-aux sends quickly allow effects to be blended with the recorded tracks. The Proworkshop patch bay has over 1400 points so we can quickly build up custom hardware processing for any track.
"Outside The Box" offers all the same options as ITB but adds all the versatility of a hardware mixing console with EQ on every channel and classic studio hardware signal processors.
Protools is a brand of software made by a company called Avid. Avid bought Protools when it was known as Protools by Digidesign. Since then Avid and Protools have had many ups and downs, development of Protools has moved out of California to India.
Proworkshop was an early adopter of Digidesign studio products in the late 90's but experience led us to explore other hardware and software options to achieve much better sound quality and more creative options.
Logic is a multitrack software package that Apple Computers acquired from a German company called Emagic. Logic allowed the use of digital audio converters which were much better sounding than the hardware offered by Digidesign.
After jettisoning Protools and Digidesign hardware we switched to Apogee hardware, this resulted in greatly improved quality. Avid and Protools were dragged kicking and screaming to provide compatibility with industry standard hardware. Prior to that policy shift around 2009 Digidesign software was only compatible with Digidesign hardware which was inferior sounding to offerings by Apogee and Antelope. Today it is common practice for DAW recording software to work all across various brands of hardware. Avid, the company has been unable to recapture the innovation they once owned and this has resulted in the company melting away to about 10% of its former self.
It does not matter sound-wise what platform you record on or mix on. We like Logic because of the sound, features and integration with Apogee audio hardware and Apple computers. Tracks you record at Proworkshop can be taken to any studio running any software, the digital audio files are universal.
Proworkshop can output audio recordings that will work on any multitrack DAW including Protools, Sonar, Cubase, Traction, Studio One, Mixbus, Reaper and Nuendo (and others) on Mac or PC. We use international standards which work across all digital audio platforms so it really depends on what format you want to work in.
At Proworkshop our focus is recording and mixing the finest audio we possibly can. We don't offer equipment rental, concert sound, video production services, graphic arts, free web sites or other sidelines or gimmicks to distract us away from our core competency and hardware driven approach. Experience has taught us that just like being a good musician requires specialization, so does producing the best sounding recordings.
We have chosen to specialize in creating the finest audio possible utilizing equipment and techniques that smaller, lessor equipped studios can't match with software only solutions. We've got over 50 years of experience and a client list that includes Fortune 50 clients as well as hundreds of bands from all skill levels. We love the work we're doing and the people we're working with.
You can find our contact information and a lot more information about our studio at www.proworkshop.com