I finally begin to get a good feeling listening to my song! The sounds that I have been hearing in my head are starting to pour out of the speakers. In a musical manner of speaking.
When you are making music you need a reference song. A reference song is a professionally mixed song that you pick out because it sounds like the one you’re currently working on. You add the reference song next to your own in the music editor and then you listen. First you listen to your song. Then you listen to the reference song. In the best of worlds the soundscape from the two should be about the same at the same volume.
I have tweaked equalizers and compressors all to long. Yet the sound of my song is not exactly like I want it. Well, here is the good part. There are actually people who work with this! I can pay some dude (or girl) to do my dirty job. And there seem to be a great number of studios in my vicinity.
Let’s investigate the art of choosing a recording studio!
Let me start by a short technical explanation of what I’m after. Sound is created by air that’s being pushed back and forth in waves. If you throw a stone into a pond, waves will start to travel over the pond surface. Sound is transported through air in the exact same way when you talk or sing. Imagine that you set up a camera by the pond and take a photo of the exact moment when the stone hits the surface. Then you take another image, exactly one second after that first one. If you look at that second image and count the number of waves that has formed next to where the stone broke the surface you will se the number of waves formed per second. This amount of waves is called the frequency. Frequency is measured in waves per second, or Hertz.
A lower pitch note has fewer waves per second than a bright tone. A bass drum is around 70-130 Hz, a trumpet between 200-1 000 Hz. Birds song is around 2 000-8 000 Hz. A typical home sound system will reproduce sound between 40 Hz and 20 000 Hz. That is the audio range that matches the human ear.
What’s my point with this long explanation? Each instrument has it’s own audio range where it’s audible. At the same time, echos and other sounds may pour over into other frequencies. To get a sound that is clear, where every individual instrument can be distinguished you have to mix the song. In mixing you mute the frequencies that are not desired. In the case of the trumpet, you filter away all the frequencies below 200 Hz to allow the bass drum and bass to be heard. Each instrument has it’s own frequency range and when the mixing is complete all instruments should be clearly audible.
On The Hub they have gathered the frequency curves for a lot of genres and they have realized that songs from a certain genre will look about the same in their frequency curves. Below is the frequency curve for a typical Dance/Techno song. At 80 Hz there is a small peak to increase the bass and the bass drum. Then the amplitude is a bit lower around 5 kHz and then it rises again at the end to get at clear treble.
Keep to your profession
I could give you the frequency analysis of my own song. Suffice it to say – it doesn’t look like the one above. I have turned every single wheel in the settings, but even though the curve starts to resemble the image there is one big problem. It doesn’t sound good. The bass is kind of OK, but it’s not in harmony with the other frequencies. Besides I have recorded the sound myself in my closet.
For the sake of clarity – it’s not the closet STUVA from IKEA with a base of 60×60 cm. Our house has a walk in closet on around 5 square meters. I wrapped it’s inside in cloth to make it sound better. I have a semiprofessional microphone with the brand Studio Projects B1. It should be “rather good”. Still I think that the result is mediocre and flat.
Well, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the room’s or the microphone’s fault that the result is bad. As a programmer I often use a method of exclusion to find out the source of error. In the worst case, I am mediocre and flat.
The art of choosing a music studio
When I complained at my job over the poor result, a colleague of mine told me that people do this for a living. If I cannot do it on my own, then maybe someone can help me? I was initially planning to let someone mix my song and then master it. Mastering is the process of merging the individual tracks together to the final result which you send to Spotify. I sat down and googled for recording studios and to my surprise I found tens of them in the vicinity.
A lot of them stated that they have recording abilities. It was then that it hit me – wouldn’t it be nice to sing in a professional studio? In that way I could determine whether my equipment is what’s holding me back or not.
OK, Google – this is what I want:
- A music studio within 100 km from my home.
- The possibility to record my song.
- Competent people that mixes and master my song.
- An affordable price.
From the description on their homepage: Studiohuset is a music studio in Göteborg who provides services within musical production as recording, arrangements, editing, mixing and mastering of sounds and music. Studiohuset also provides courses and private lessons withing music productions. Studiohuset i Göteborg AB was founded in the end of 2012 by Eric Vo and together with the quintet Jaerv they made their first recording on January 13 2013. Since then, Studiohuset has performed over 300 tasks in the name of sound and music production.
Studiohuset is situated around 10 minutes from the center of Göteborg, in Västra Frölunda. Their home page is neat. They have a recording studio and they provide mixing and mastering. They also have courses in mixing and mastering. I just registered myself for the one in June!
In 2015 the studio had a turnover of 19 000 €. They seem to have good reviews on Facebook and people seem satisfied with Eric’s courses. This is definitely a candidate.
Don Graniolo Sound
From the description on their homepage: I offer recording, mixing, mastering, editing and so on of all kinds of music, commercials, sound books, movie sound/music, jingles (Radio Spots) and everything else that needs sound. Don Graniolo Sound is driven by the sound and music producer Daniel Schou Granstedt who with his 15 years in the business as artist, songwriter and producer has gathered a lot of experience within sound and music production.
Wow, the homepage is very slow. It’s a shame that it gives such a bad impression. The studio is also situated in Västra Frölunda, Göteborg. Don Graniolo offers mixing and mastering.
They also give you a 30 second mastering sample if you need it. 2015 he had a turnover of 20-30 000€ and his business has been alive since 2007.
From the description on their homepage: Formed in 2013, Rexius Records is a record label from Gothenburg, Sweden. The founder Mathias Rexius is a highly educated musician who among other things graduated from Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. Rexius Records handle everything in a musical career, including recording, mixing, mastering, video, artwork & managing. Using a mix of drive & passion, Rexius Records shows that they can achieve the same results as the big record labels with more limited resources. The company is proud to have partners that have over 10 years of experience within all the areas of the music business.
Rexius Records is a record company and just not a studio. They have a recording studio in Gårda in the center of Göteborg. The acoustics in the studio is designed by a acoustic scientist. That’s quite something! I get a good confidence in the company by their homepage and the turnover for 2015 was 44 500€. The company was founded in 2013.
Rexius offers unlimited revisions of the end product. This means that if I’m not fully satisfied with the first mixing and mastering I will return my song. Most people are satisfied after the second or third time, according to their web page.
Swedish Sound Studio
From the description on their homepage: Swedish Sound is a high end music facility. 345 square meter music studio with 3 control rooms, a songwriting room, 3 iso booths and a large studio room. There’s also kitchen facilities and office space. Ken Berglund and Henrik Marzelius bought the studio from In Flames in August 2012. The studio has earlier been IF Studios, Studio Fredman and Bauhaus Studio with a long history of recordings from the 1980’s.
Our current objective is to deliver top quaity productions, mixes and recordings. We want Swedish Sound Studio to be accessible for bands, artists, songwriters, external producers and engineers for recording, mixing and mastering from all over the world.
This studio really looks nice! The homepage is neat and the images from the studio are impressive. They have a long list of all their equipment in the studio. My first impression is that this is a bit too expensive for me.
You can rent the studio for 100€ per hour and they take 40€ flat rate for the mastering. That’s actually affordable. For the mixing, you have to ask for the price. I cannot find any financial details about this company.
Their hompage is not created for me. I want an immediate link “about us” where I get the information I seek. Where is this studio situated? Who is behind it? What is it’s main purpose. I have to read a lot of stuff before I realize that it’s Magnus Hyden who is the man behind the studio. He will gladly mix and master for me, but can I record in his studio? I don’t know that. Where the studio is situated is still a riddle.
Sorry Magnus, no business this time.
From the description on their homepage: We who work in the studio is Carl-Oscar Andersson and Jonathan Larsson. We have written, produced and mixed music together since 2012 and we have been part of a lot of projects since then. Besides working with other bands and artist we have also put a lot of focus on our own music project, I Am Nova. We have both done music in different forms since the age of 14 and we have developed a strong love towards pop, rock and indie, but also a curiosity towards other genres.
Callsee Studios is a beautifully located music studio just outside Falkenberg, just 200 meters from Ringsegård Beach. The studio that was founded in the spring of 2016 consists of a big recording room and a high end control room. The house also has a kitchen and a second floor with bedrooms and is perfect for a weekend of a full weeks session with your band.
Their web page is modern, but the first impression tells me that this is not for me. The Boys are young, and pop, rock and indie is not my genre. I don’t have any financial data about the company that was founded in 2015. Beside, the studio seem to be in someones house. Falkenberg is located outside of my 100 km radius. This doesn’t feel right for me.
From the description on their homepage: We have most of the best stuff that are needed for a successful recording. We work in a fully digital Pro Tools environment and we have a great selection of hardware, software synths and plugins.
This is a cheery person from Fristad outside Borås who has started his own studio. The company has been active since 2007 and he has a turnover of 7 000€ per year. I would really like to encourage this local entrepreneur, but I cannot. The web page doesn’t give me a feeling of professionalism. It’s a bit too much of “my basement” over the images and the information is to pale. A shame!
There are a lot more musical studios than those to choose among. After this shallow investigation I realize that I have already made up my mind. I will give the task to Rexius Records. The reason for this is their professional homepage, the recording ability and the promise of unlimited revisions that I will never ask them to fulfill. The studio is situated in a good spot as well.
I will contact them right away and try to book their studio on Wednesday in two weeks, April 12th. Things start to get moving!