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197 Oldfield Lane North, Greenford, Middlesex. UB6 8PN. United Kingdom
Mobile: 07901 617 864
Email: dickh@studioredgables.com

Hints, Tips and Conditions
For the recording artist not familiar with the studio process


It’s always best to rehearse with the musicians before the studio day, otherwise you will be spending around £50 per hour of studio time deciding what tunes you are doing, sorting out arrangements, keys and harmony, etc without actually recording anything.


Unless you have very good reason and have discussed things with Dick Hammett well before your recording session, it is not advisable to start moving musicians about in the studio or deliberate over microphone technique at the beginning of the recording day. Dick has been in the recording business for many years and uses very expensive microphones in an acoustically controlled environment. So he can get a sound very quickly – including the drums. So trust him!


If you use a “Producer”, part of their job is to get the best performance from the band, maintaining the style, performance and balance of the selection of tunes. The trouble is they can cost money. Dick comes from a musical background, both Jazz and Classical and will happily help you, if you request it, with deciding the most efficient use of the studio time. He can also listen for problems with your performance. No extra charge for this – he’s there anyway.


Try not to perform too many tracks in a day. Twenty five half-heartedly-rehearsed tunes  will probably need extensive studio time at a later date to make repairs and overdubs. Yes; technically possible; but not as musical as a group of musicians recording around eight well-rehearsed tunes and doing maybe two or three takes (attempts on tape) of each one, choosing at a later date the best ones to put on their album.

5.  STRESS   Top

Studio recording is always more demanding musically than playing “live”. If you make an error in front of an audience, it’s forgotten straight away, owing to the immediacy of the venue - unless it’s recorded! If you make an error in the studio, the listener will hear it every time they play your album. However, try not to get hung up over every little smudged note. The earlier “takes” you record nearly always have a better “edge” to them than take 27. By this time, the musicians will be getting tired and impatient. The music will be getting technically more correct, but there’s no “performance”.


Most recordings use the Multitrack technique; that is, each musician is recorded on separate tracks on tape. The drummer usually uses six tracks, (i.e. six mics.), the piano two tracks, the bass two tracks, etc. This makes for the possibility of variety in the final sound. At the end of the studio session, Dick can make you “Rough Mixes” on CD. The sound will be very good, but will not take into consideration what can be improved when post-production work (making musical repairs and overdubs) have been incorporated. However they will give you a good chance, in the relaxed (we hope) atmosphere of your own home, to decide which performances you like and those you might discard. You will be amazed how different it all sounds a couple of days after the recording session. Those performances that sounded so “good” at the time are probably later takes and may in fact be “pedestrian” or even “boring”; earlier performances that you perceived as “ragged” could be of greater interest to the intended customer. Remember glaring errors in the melody, harmony, tuning and timing cannot be ignored; the odd fluff is not as important.


Once you have listened to all the rough mixes, you will have hopefully by now decided which were the best “takes” of each tune. If undecided, ask your friends and colleagues for their opinion; you could even ask Dick. Remember on your recording day, you were recorded multitrack, therefore it is often possible for the odd mistake to be fixed by re-recording the odd phrase or two either over the original tracks (known as a “drop-in”, not recommended because this cannot be undone on tape) or you can record new material to cover the mistakes on spare audio tracks (known as “overdubs” – far safer). The only problem occurs if your original mistake is “heard” by other mics in the studio (known as “bleed”; for instance if you are a jazz sextet (trumpet, trombone, tenor sax plus piano, bass & drums) and you wish to fix a tenor sax mistake, the original mistake may still be on the piano, trombone and trumpet tracks. The only answer now is to replace the whole phrase by all four instruments on to spare audio tracks. Because the “isolation” between musicians, even in the same area, is pretty good at Red Gables, then repairing the one instrument normally works quite well. For singers, because they are always recorded completely isolated from the band (i.e. in a separate booth), they can replace some or all of their performances. Most singers like to sing a “guide” vocal during the session and then sing a performance at a later date. This is an economic use of studio time. To ensure you are now happy, Dick can always make up rough mixes of the most recent repairs before you go ahead with the next stage.

8.  MIXING   Top

Mixing is the operation in which the preferred sound of each instrument and voice is individually adjusted to suit each tune. Most of this operation was performed by Dick on the original session day as you were playing – the sound desks he uses memorise this information so this stage can be quite quick, since we will now only need to fine-tune things. However if you have had a rethink of the sound and “feel” you are after, now is the time to point this out.  Combining the sound of each instrument together in a mix often shows up details of the sound which feel as if they are missing, or too proud. We will also adjust the relative sounds in a dynamic way as the track progresses – for instance, the front line need to be softer if backing a singer and then brought up if they play a solo as an ensemble or individually. We will add effects, echo or reverberation (but not too much!) to each instrument individually as required (Dick has ten different stereo echo units – so there’s plenty of variety available; including guitar fuzz...). Mixes are recorded on to the Hard Disk of a Digital Editor known as “Sadie”. We can now, at leisure try different sounds until all are happy and the best bits of each mix are joined together to make a first version of the mix. If you wish, we can remix as often as you like until you are satisfied with the sound. More often than not, you are advised to listen to the two or three mixes at home in your own time before you make up your mind – but beware! Dick has five different sets of loudspeakers ranging from £5  to £5000 to reflect different acoustic environments.  So sometimes you may get a false idea at home on your own HiFi system as to what is generally considered to be a “good sound”. It is sometimes considered a good idea to have the Mixing performed by somebody else in a different location, so that fresh ears are used to perform this operation – however this can prove expensive and not necessarily improve the sound compared to Dick’s original rough mixes. A half-way possibility is to bring your own engineer to mix at Red Gables, with Dick acting as “operational assistant” to help the engineer attain what he/she (and the customer/Producer) wants. Another option would be to request a colleague of Dick who is another very experienced Sound Engineer who will do a marvellous job, and without any help from the proprietor!

9.  EDITING  Top

Editing is the process where we can ensure that:-
   a)   the beginning and end of each tune is clean (“topping & tailing”)
   b)   joining say, take 2 head with take1 jazz choruses and then using take 4 end head
   c)   adding any individual notes that were missed on the session day, by “pinching” from other          takes
   d)   deciding the running order and the length of gap between each track of music
   e)      adjusting sound levels between tracks to attain consistency throughout the album
There are many other editing “tricks” that can be used at this stage to eradicate/replace any errors that happened during the session recordings. However the best recordings are generally those with the least amount of post-production work.

10.  MASTERING   Top

Mastering is a process by which tonal and level compensation is applied to a compilation of tunes so that there is an aural cohesion between tracks. The process includes adding index marks and recording time data to a CD so that the listener can find their way around. It also allows the sound to be “compressed”, so that the soft sections are made louder and the very loud bits held down, in such a way that the listener perceives the music as sounding MUCH louder. Very often a LIMITER is utilised to ensure the loud bits stay below the maximum digital level possible; otherwise digital “clipping” will be heard, which is a very raucous and unpleasant form of distortion. Dick has very sophisticated software within the Sadie  Editor itself, and also about sixty “plug-ins” to attain whatever is needed. If an album is intended for playing in car or walkman systems, a lot more compression and limiting is required. Classical music uses a lot less of this form of “enhancement”. It is also possible to improve the sound of old recordings, removing hiss, hum, rumble and crackle, hopefully making the music more pleasant to listen to. Dick points out that a well-mixed album should need very little work at the Mastering stage. Too often, a good mix can be ruined by over-ambitious use of Mastering tools. It is sometimes considered a good idea to have the Mastering performed by somebody else in a different location, so that fresh ears are used to perform this operation – however this can prove expensive and not necessarily improve the sound.

11.  GRAPHICS   Top

Many of my customers find that potential punters are drawn more to the design of the CD booklet and Inlay Graphics than they are to the music..... However it is important to relate the genre of the music in the style of the CD Graphics. Dick will happily help you with this, using industry-standard Graphics Hardware and Software. Samples of his work in this area can be inspected at anytime at Red Gables; you can do this during the recording/mixing/etc sessions during a break. If you wish, Dick can take pictures of you during the session; action shots often say more than “posed” pictures. If you need someone to write sleeve notes for you, Dick has a small collection of professional writers who can do this from material you supply – at a fee, of course. Proofs of picture and Graphic design will be sent to you, so you won’t have to keep visiting Red Gables to get the work finished.


Full CD manufacture requires four items:-

      a) a) a Red Book CDR Master or a DDP (Disc Description Protocol) Master. The latter is a more reliable option since it can be delivered to the manufacturer by uploading over the Internet or on a data stick or hard drive; it also contains a checksum to ensure the code is error-free. 
b) MCPS copyright clearance and licence. No reputable CD Manufacturer will undertake the making of your CDs (normally a minimum of 500) without this licence. Depending on the composers you utilised, this can cost in the region of £500.
c) Pre-press graphics either on film or on CD as print-ready. This means when the design has been completed to your satisfaction, the graphics have to be transferred to film (slowly becoming an obsolete process) or CD in a form compatible with the Factory’s bulk printing system. This requires dimensions to be rigidly adhered to. Any discrepancies will cause the graphics to be rejected, causing you delay and more expense while things are sorted out. Talk to Dick for more details of this.
d) Normally manufacturers require payment up-front. This can be anything from about £300 to £1000 depending on the size of the booklet (2, 4, 8 or 12 page), the number of colours and type of CD case used, from simple card fold to plastic jewel case, etc. On arrival at the manufacturer, any fixing of errors in the Graphics work will be down to you; this can be costly. To minimise this eventuality Dick sends his Sound Masters and Graphics work to manufacturers who he has worked with regularly. Again, if you wish to avoid the majority of pitfalls in CD manufacture, talk to Dick whether you use his facilities or not.

If you intend to go for a small run of  around 100 CDs to use for promotion of your band,  you won’t need full manufacture. It is more expensive per CD, but more economic.  There are many copying firms in this line of business. If you use basic graphics on the CD itself and a simple fold-in card as the booklet, the cost is about £1 per CD for a 100 run. The cost per CD goes up as the total number requested goes down.


To record, say, vocal, piano, bass, drums, sax and trumpet, which in this case is six musicians,  requires sixteen track recording, which is £400 per eight hour day, i.e. 10:00 – 18:00 or 12:00 – 20:00. Most musicians avoid the alternative of recording “Direct to Stereo” because you have very little option in changing the sound and no chance of doing significant repairs or overdubs after the session date. Recording to Multitrack Hard Disk these days is included in the "Day Rate" fee, so you may as well take advantage of the possibility of changing things at a later date. If you use the Steinway Grand piano with tuning, this costs £90. See also paragraph 14 below. The above comes to £375 per day. Most albums require two days to record (£800 plus piano with tuning at £90 per day), Rough mixes are £10 per CD (these are normally available on the same day as you record, unless you have spent a lot of time doing "repairs"), one day for repairs & overdubs (£300), a day to mix and edit (£300), and 1/2day to compile and Master (£75 - £100). CDs played out from the editor cost £5 each. Therefore a typical cost as above comes to about £1700. If you are well-rehearsed and feel you can record, mix and edit in one day, the cost is less, but in Dick’s experience, 90% of recordings produced like this make for an inferior product which probably won’t sell.
If you are a regular customer, you will not be asked for a deposit, which is normally 50% of the anticipated studio time.

If you cancel a session at under one week’s notice, you will be expected to pay half the agreed fee. If you cancel a session the day before, then the whole fee is due. In both cases you will forfeit your deposit (if applicable).

If you only need a few hours, there is a MINIMUM FEE of £150 plus use of piano with or without tuning (see FEES page)


The Steinway Model B Grand in the studio is regularly tuned and maintained to keep it in
'concert' condition. Use of the piano costs £30 per day. If you have the piano tuned, the cost including the use of the piano is £90. If you choose not to have the piano tuned, this is done so at your own risk. Whilst Dick is able to tweak the odd note, should a 'unison' drift out throughout the day, he is not a tuner and therefore cannot be held responsible for the state of the piano’s tuning. Pianos go out of tune, especially if they are played, so it is recommended that for critical work, solo piano and small ensemble in particular, the piano should be tuned on each day of your recording.



If you book the studio from a specific time and musicians turn up late for whatever reason, you cannot expect Dick to give refunds – it’s not his responsibility to get the musicians to the studio. A “10:00 start” means Dick has already had the piano tuned early that morning and everything is rigged and set-up to start recording at 10:00. Therefore the drummer needs to arrive at least 30 minutes and the rest of the band at least 15 minutes before the booked start time in order for all to settle down in the studio environment.
Tea, coffee and biscuits are on tap continuously, (as long as they are NOT taken into the Studio area!). For lunch, there are two sandwich bars, a café, fish & chip shop and Chinese takeaway within 150 yards of Red Gables. It’s best to keep your breaks reasonably short so that the time doesn’t drift away. However the recording process is highly fatiguing for musicians due to the intense concentration required, so take Dick’s advice if he feels a short break is needed occasionally.


Red Gables Studio Recording and Editing System is based on Sadie's (PC) Hard Disk system. However you don’t HAVE to mix/edit at Red Gables. It is possible to take your Multitrack24 bit 44.1 KHz recordings to another studio for further post-production work. For a small fee, the files can be copied to Hard Drives (up to 250GBs) or USB3 Data Sticks (up to 124Gbs).The recording format on the Hard Drive is “Broadcast WAV” which can be imported into most multitrack systems (Pro-Tools, Logic, etc). It’s normally best to get your studio engineer to contact Red Gables to ensure compatibility and check whether edited tracks need to be consolidated. If you prefer to bring your own Hard Drive, this must be virus-free and PC compatible, NOT Mac-based.


The Studio is no longer registered for VAT
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