Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why We Do What We Do (At Least From My Perspective)

The other day I was down in a hole... yes, like the Alice In Chains song, and yes, quite literally.  You see I have another part time job doing construction work and this past week was full of digging trenches so I spent a lot of time down in a hole, which gave me some time to think about some of the projects we have going on at Ro3 Audio.  It also gave me a lot of time to think about why we do the things we do, because I honestly ask myself that question every time I go do my construction work.  

For me the construction work is all about the money.  Yea I get some physical activity out of the whole ordeal, but the money keeps me going back to work.  The hours are long, the temperatures always seem really high, the physical toll is incredible... but the money is my focus.  I need it, and without anything other way to pay my bills or rent right now I have to deal with it.  I show up, do as I am asked, finish the job for the day and collect my check at the end of the week.  For me my concern is getting paid.  To be honest I've had a lot of jobs like that over the years and I think that everyone does, but the money is the farthest thing from my mind when it comes to recording with clients.

Before taking on the task of working with Brian at Ro3 Audio, we had multiple discussions about what our goals and aspirations were when getting started.  Over the years I've visited friends at studios and heard others tell stories about their studio experiences.  The one thing I remember hearing from those people are the stories of how their engineer/producer/guy-behind-the-board was that they were simply a button pusher.  Each day they went into the studio the clock started and it was like watching the gas pump click away while you wait for it to stop and see how much you'll owe.  They'd record a take, the engineer would ask if it sounded good, they'd play it back, then when asked for an opinion the engineer would say it's fine and then say those magic three words, "Let's move on."  

That's the thing I find hard as an engineer.  The fact that someone asks how it sounds and an engineer would act so blasé when asked for feedback is mind blowing.  Those engineers were nothing but button pushers, people who couldn't wait for the clock to run out so they could get out of the studio and cash their check.  Those are the people we're trying NOT to be at Ro3 Audio.  While we realize that as engineers we're not there to rewrite a client's music, change their ideas, or force ours on them, we take pride in the fact that we are willing and ready to offer our ideas and opinions when asked from clients... sometimes even when we're not asked by our clients.  Our goal isn't to force ideas or rewrite what is brought to us, we just want to help our clients put the best product out as they possibly can, sonically and musically, because our name will be on that same product.  If our clients take our constructive criticism and use it to make them better, great.  If they ask for criticism, awesome.  If we give an idea and a client doesn't want to use it or even listen to it, that's fine too... it wouldn't be the first time.  We'll tow the line and be the engineers that our clients allow us to be, whether it be engineers/producers/guys-behind-the-board who give honest feedback and ideas or just push buttons.  Our goal isn't about inserting ourselves into a client's project, it's about standing out.

We honestly strive to be better than a lot of other studios out there who just want your checks.  We come from the NJ/NYC music scene and we want to give right back to it.  The whole goal shouldn't be about the money and it isn't.  Don't get me wrong, we do get monetary compensation but we're not looking to get rich.  We sink it right back into what we love by upgrading equipment to improve recordings and help out our clients.  It's really like a donation when it all gets broken down.  We're trying to make amateur bands sound professional on their amateur budgets, and we're more than willing to work with our clients on working with that budget.  We d this to help build back up a scene that seems like it might be dwindling sometimes in the NJ/NYC area, to help bands become better, to try to make a difference in our client's careers as musicians by delivering a quality product, and most importantly because WE LOVE DOING IT.  

We're not like some of the other studios who look to make bank as the engineers sit back and push buttons while the watch the clock.  We want to stand out from the rest by giving you a lot for what you can get in your budget because WE LOVE WHAT WE DO.  Spread the word, Ro3 Audio is here to stay and we're not going anywhere.  If you or someone you know are looking for what we offer please contact us at and we'll all benefit.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mixing solo

We are in the process of finishing up recording an EP for the band A Striking Resemblance, and we are slowly, yes slowly, transitioning out of the tracking phase and into the mixing phase. I was working on getting the basic levels and inserts set for the drum tracks, guitars and bass and I realized two things. First, the importance of the preset. Talk about a time saver. In the DAW world, recording keeps getting easier and the preset is the "copy & paste" of consistency. When the track counts start getting high, and you are trying to get the parameters between songs in the same ballpark, creating presets makes it easy. They are great for EQ and inserts, but as far as levels go, each song is its own entity. Second; while mixing alone is fine for setting the basic levels, getting the compression, gates, and EQ setup, (presets) but having a second person come in and fine tune everything is crucial to making a good mix great. The band themselves provide important insight into how things are sounding, but sometimes an outside "voice" can be more objective. It is amazing what you hear differently when you come back to the same project weeks later.

So the lesson of the day is always mix with a friend, use presets, and take a day off! Your music will thank you later. Though don't forget to save your project before walking away, or you will be wondering what happened to the bass track weeks later.