Soul Studios
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Services

Pricing

Recording, Mixing $50 per hour
Mastering (per song) $50 for standard mastering
$100 for stem mastering
Other Sound work $50 per hour
Record/cassette transfer to CD $15 for straight transfers
$30 with restoration
Discounts for EP's and bulk
CD duplication & printing Variable, contact for quote.
Online album distribution $80 per album (one-off fee)

For more details, see the categories below.

Recording

  • Per-hour: $50
  • Per-song: contact for quote

What is Recording?

Recording involves transferring the sound from your instruments or voice onto a storage medium, such as a hard disk. Various different kinds of microphones can be used to capture different instruments and the most appropriate microphones are selected for each individual instrument (those which capture that instrument best). Generally each instrument is recorded separately and at different times - to avoid microphone bleed between instruments and increase instrument separation in the mix.

Can you record an entire band at the same time?

Yes - but the recording will lose some sonic potential at the mixing stage due to bleedthrough between instrument mics - unavoidable to an extent in that sort of situation. In some cases it is in fact faster to record each instrument separately, as it means only one person has to "get it right" at any one time (as opposed to everyone at once)- depends on the band! It can be faster or cheaper to record together if everyone is well-rehearsed, provided you're not worried about getting a perfectly "clean"-style recording, or you're aiming for more of a 'live'-type sound. A third option is to record two instruments at a time while recording one instrument 'direct' - for example, drums and bass (DI), keyboards (DI) and guitar, and then vocals separately. This allows players to follow each other's groove without getting microphone bleedthrough, and can in some circumstances shorten the recording process. At Soul Studios I'm quite happy to do all three of these options.

Do you record externally?

Yes, there is a portable recording setup. Depending on your intentions for the recording you may lose sound quality because normal locations are not acoustically-treated for recording purposes. Only additional costs are packup/packdown and travel time.

Requirements

If you're new to the recording process, or have never been in a recording studio before, please read the following guide. To make the most of your recording time be on time, rehearsed and take proper precautions (avoid late night partying etc the day before). Vocalists should warm up before they come in to save time, and it's ideal if all involved are patient with the recording process. Sometimes things can take longer than you think it will. Payment is on handover of the final product (if subsequent mixing or mastering is wanted, payment will come at the end of those processes).

Gear and history

I've been recording since about 1994. A lot has changed, but some things stay the same: a good performance stands out above the equipment used to record it (asides from wax cylinder recordings). With that in mind, I use the following mics: 2 x custom-modified Rode NTK's, 3 modified and stock Octava MC012's, 3 x Shure sm58's and a variety of drum mics, plus some miscellaneous condensors. Regarding microphones, many of the newer modded mics are as good, or better than, some of the older and more well-known models IMHO.

In addition I use a Black Lion Audio Modded 896HD with their custom-built MK2 wordclock, which is similar to in sound but improved on an Apogee Rosetta. In terms of console, I can either use my refurbished Electro-voice BK-1632 for a closed, more dirty sound, or Steve Slate Virtual Console for a more open-sounding output. I prefer to use Virtual Console for it's versatility and clean output. For external recording work I use a MOTU Ultralite (8 mono inputs, 24bit 96khz). In-house I can record 16 mono tracks at once (or 8 stereo tracks) and process unlimited tracks at once. Soul Studios itself is a large sound-treated space, separated into (a) waiting area (b) control room (c) live recording room (d) isolation room. It is sound-treated and ready to record. For location details, contact me.

Samples

Here are a few select examples of Soul Studios recording in-house, in downloadable MP3 format:

Easy listening (The Mandelz) download sample
Country (Jason Tapp) download sample
Pasifika (Tonga Group) download sample
Alternative metal (One Fatal Punch) download sample

Mixing

  • Per-hour: $50
  • Per-song: contact for quote

What is Mixing?

Mixing is taking individually recorded tracks and combining them into a pleasing whole. That's the raw explanation of it, but to do that the process is actually complicated and unique for each song, as well as for each genre or style of music. Each instrument must (typically) be eq'd and sometimes have effects - such as compression, limiting or reverb (and a variety of other effects) - applied to make the individual tracks stand out, sound good or combine well. It also involves, typically, automation of effects and volume levels, and audio editing. There is one heck of a lot going into mixing, and only one thing that comes out. Mixing is by far the more complex part of the recording/mixing/mastering process, and the portion where the most time gets spent.

Requirements

If recording at Soul Studios there are no additional requirements. If not recording at Soul Studios, please export and supply at 24-bit/32-bit 96khz, in either WAV, FLAC or AIFF (I don't accept ALAC) formats. 16-bit 44khz is a bare minimum (and will result in lower quality) but I will not mix from MP3s or any other lossy codecs. It's preferable that your individual tracks are not clipping when exported, ie. peaking at 0db or above (a good way to check this is to download the free audio editor Wavosaur and use it's statistics function to check the maximum levels of your files. The maximum level should be below 0db (100%)). If you're doing any processing of your own, it is best to avoid using excessive limiting/compression (reasonable amounts fine). Files can be supplied on DATA CD (not audio CD), DATA DVD or via the internet (Mediafire is a good, free place to upload). Payment is on delivery of final product.

Gear and History

I've been mixing about 1997. I use a huge variety of tools for the job. I don't tend to use outboard equipment, as I don't see any benefits. For more details read the pro audio FAQ. I mix on a combination of Ultimate and Acoustics of Finland speakers. Tracktion is my host of choice, but projects can be exported and imported to and from pro tools, cubase, logic audio, reaper and many other formats, if desired.

Samples

Here are a few select examples of Soul Studios mixing, in downloadable MP3 format:

Brazilian (The Lorax) download sample
Pop (Matt Bentley & Mike Groom) download sample
Industrial (One Fatal Punch) download sample
Drum n Bass (Metamorphosis) download sample
Sound Effects (for Rotorua Airport) download sample

Mastering

  • Mastering: $50 per track
  • Stem Mastering: $100 per track

What is mastering?

Mastering is the process whereby the stereo mix of a song is 'tweaked' via various processes before being made ready for CD. Often mastering is a matter of detecting and correcting problems with the mix, or improving the mix in ways which can only be done on the final mix rather than the individual instruments. It is more about bringing the best out of good mixes than fixing bad ones. This can also mean increasing the loudness of the final track (if desired), via dynamics processors, though this is only one small aspect of it.

What is "Stem" Mastering?

"Stem" mastering means taking the sub-groupings of a mix as stereo tracks (for example the drums collectively as one track, the guitars collectively as another) and mastering with these. It gives the mastering engineer the ability to alter or adjust individual sub-groups of instruments if necessary (for example, if the process of mastering brings out the treble of the hihats too much, this can be corrected on the drum track without affecting the other instrument groupings). It is not a substitute for mixing, nor can it be treated as such. If consoles or console emulation have not been used in the recording and mixing process, stem mastering can be very beneficial for pop and rock mixes as it allows the mastering engineer to apply a 'console sound' at this point - not possible in stereo-track mastering.

Requirements

Though I will work with lower resolutions, tracks should preferably be exported and supplied in 32-bit (or failing that 24-bit) 96khz WAV, FLAC or AIFF (I don't accept ALAC) where possible. 16-bit 44khz is a bare minimum but I can not master from an MP3 or any other lossy codec. Please do not apply any effects (other than volume or panning automation) to the master channel of your mix - particularly compression. Avoid using excessive limiting/compression on your individual tracks as well (reasonable amounts fine) - particularly when stem mastering, as this will actually limit the amount of loudness and punch that can be achieved on the final master (if that is your goal). You will need to make sure your exported mix is not clipping ie. peaking at 0db or above (a good way to check this is to download the free audio editor Wavosaur and use it's statistics function to check the maximum levels of your stereo file - maximum L & R levels should be below 100% (0db)). Files can be supplied on DATA CD (not audio CD), DATA DVD or via the internet (mediafire is an easy & free place to upload to). Payment on handover of the final product.

Gear and History

I have been mastering since 2001. When it comes to mastering, it's about ears not gear. I use a variety of tools for the job. Steve Slate's work, Izotope's plugins, all good stuff. Virtual console and a variety of miscellaneous tools. I master on a combination of Ultimate and Acoustics of Finland speakers. If you don't agree that a software approach is suitable for mastering, please get in touch. Or get the samples below.

Samples

Here are a few before-and-after samples of Soul Studios mastering:

Dubstep (Andy Horse) download sample
Shoegaze (Jeremy PringSheim) download sample
Pop (Raymond Hayter) download sample
Blues (Bluebird Avenue) download sample
Easy listening (The Mandelz) download sample
Rap (The First Seed) download sample
IDM (Nick Britton) download sample
House (Monkey Boots) download sample
RnB (Jordan David Kaiki) download sample

Other Sound work

  • Per-hour: $50
  • Per-song: contact for quote

What is sound work?

This describes post-production sound, sound effects, sound recording, noise removal and cleanup, and a large number of other sound-related processes. Essentially, audio-processing in general. If there's something in audio you need done, enquire.

What instruments do you play?

I sing (in a variety of styles) and play violin, guitar, piano, synths, keyboards, bass, drums & percussion and program- to varying degrees of competency. I can also source other people to play other instruments.

Record/Tape Transfer to CD

  • Transfer: $15 per record or cassette
  • Transfer + restoration work: $30 per record or cassette

Discounts available for EP's/singles and bulk transfers.

What are record/tape transfers and restorations?

The transfer part of the equation involves recording the record or tape into a computer and then transferring that recording to a CD or a series of MP3's. The restoration part, if desired, involves first cleaning the record, using a high-speed player to remove crud from the grooves, cleaning again, then recording the record into the computer and using specialised equipment to target and remove the noise, pops and clicks from the recording without affecting the rest of the recording, and then post-processing - subtly adjusting the balance of the recording to make it more aesthetically pleasing on CD. With cassette tapes no physical cleaning of the tape occurs, but the same in-computer cleanup can occur. This is not a magical process, so it cannot restore audio that's been lost, only remove false data (scratches and noise), to an extent. Some records and scratches are too deep or worn to be improved completely, but- they can certainly be improved.

What are the differences between transferring cassette tapes and records?

Tapes tend to be less degraded than records (unless the records have been treated well), and are generally longer. Tapes are not prone to stopping or skipping like records are, and therefore don't require an active listener while recording them. But they also tend to be more variable in quality, and require more care at the restoration end. The damage tends to be the deterioration of the magnetic tape itself.

Requirements

Tape or record dropped into Soul Studios in as best condition as is possible. That's about it. Please note I do not transfer old reel-to-reel tape recordings. Payment on handover of transferred CD(s).

Samples

Take a listen to some of the record restoration examples below:

  • Peter, Paul and Mary (Live)
    Before:
    After:
  • Wagner - Masterpiece
    Before:
    After:
  • Empire Strikes Back (talking book)
    Before:
    After:

All of the samples above remain the Copyright and property of their respective owners.

(Note: If you're looking for new vinyl records, they can be purchased online from Intamusic or from Real Groovy)

CD Duplication

All CD's have a label printed onto the CD face.

10-150 copies, no booklet or backing:

  • With plastic slips: $2 per CD
  • With slimline cases: $2.40 per CD
  • With full jewel cases: $2.60 per CD

More than 150 copies or with booklets/backing:

Please contact for a quote (outsourced).

What is CD duplication?

CD duplication is the duplication of an audio or data (or mixed format) CD into multiple CDr (green-bottomed) copies.
This is distinct from CD replication which, using a glass master, duplicates onto non-CDr (silver-bottomed) CDs (the kind you get in stores). CD replication involves external plants and orders of upwards of 500 units. The quality of replication is comparable to the quality of duplication, though replication tends to have better cd-player compatibility and duplication tends to have slightly more accuracy.

Requirements

All that is required is a copy of the CD you wish to duplicate - you must own all rights to the material on the CD, including images. You will need to specify what you want printed on the CD face. If you are supplying an image for the CD face, it can be in any format but preferably 300dpi TIFF or PNG is best. Payment is on handover of duplicated CDs.

Online album distribution

  • $80NZ per album (one-off fee, album stays up indefinitely).

What is online album distribution?

Online distribution means distributing an album to a variety of online music platforms, in this case iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, Vodaphone, and a huge variety of others.

What are the fees?

As above there is a once-only fee of $80, and this keeps the album up indefinitely. If you want to take it down at some point there is a take-down fee of $30 (this is my aggregator's policy, not my own).

How would I get paid?

I receive statements if your album makes any money. Once the amount owing is over 50EU, the aggregator will pay me, and I will contact and pay you.

Is it worth it?

Take a look at the total number of sites. But it's only worth it if you push yourself online - go on forums, facebook, whatever - make people aware that the album exists - otherwise, you're like the kid in the back of the market selling stuff but not making enough sound to be noticed. But if you genuinely market yourself online - you've got a far better chance of making money.

How long does it take?

Short answer - it varies. Some sites, like eMusic and amazon, have stuff up within a week. Others, like iTunes can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months. Overall you want to allow 3 months for your stuff to be visible online.

Requirements

Either a CD of the album or the individual tracks in .wav format. Album cover in digital (preferred) or real-life format. Descriptive text describing the band and the album. Indication of album genre(s). Payment before upload.

Terms of Service and Payment details

Forms of Payment

You may pay either in cash or via bank transfer. Cheques and payment-in-trade are not accepted unless discussed otherwise.

Conditions of Payment

Payment is on handover of finished article. Your budget for any given project will be discussed at the start of the project. You can reasonably expect the amount due to fall within the amount discussed at the start of the project, unless discussed otherwise. If payment is withheld once the project is completed, the rights for the recording(s) (but not the copyright(s)) become the property of Soul Studios until further notice, and you will additionally be taken to court or the disputes tribunal. If it is necessary to call a collections agency, you will be charged the extra 20% of the original fee to cover the collection agency's commission of 20%, if you want to recover the rights to your recordings.

Terms of Service

If you disrespect or are aggressive towards the studio, it's inhabitants and staff, you will be asked to leave, and not be allowed to come back. Other studios also may be informed of your behaviour.


If there is an audio service that you require, which is not listed above, feel free to get in touch (via the contact page).