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Music Mixing: What It Is, and Why It’s Important

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

When I was a kid, I started playing guitar, and along with playing guitar inevitably came reading guitar-themed magazines. As a guitar neophyte, I began devouring publications on playing guitar and writing music, delving into interviews with famous artists who talked shop about writing guitar parts and recording albums. One day I was reading an interview with Sting, who mentioned the name of the person who mixed his album.

Mixed? What did that mean, I wondered? So I asked the nearest person to me at the time, which happened to be my mom. “Mixing is when they take the recordings of each instrument and adjust the volumes to make the sound you hear in the recording,” she explained to me.

“Wait,” I asked, “you mean they record everything separately?”

This was my introduction to mixing, starting with the revelation that songs weren’t just recorded live in a studio by a whole band standing around a few microphones (at least not anymore–my mental picture of recording may have been shaped by years listening to early Beatles records which did involve much more “live” recording). After all my years of listening to music, I had never known. With that revelation in mind, I knew from then on what “mixing” meant.  Well, sort of.

There was much more to it than I thought

For the next several years, I thought mixing was simply a search for the right volume levels.  While that’s not completely untrue, it was still a very incomplete picture. It wasn’t until I started interacting directly with professional mixing engineers that I finally began to fully understand how important–and complex–mixing really was.

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Featured Artist: David Llorente

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

David Llorente used Studio Pros for his first professional project and was blown away not only by the musicianship, but by how much they cared.

“It was probably one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had as a musician.”

That’s how David Llorente feels about his time working with Studio Pros. “Just going through all the processes, seeing what people have to do to get a professional track cut. I didn’t know how long it took. I didn’t know everything that was involved from start to finish. And now, having gone through it with Studio Pros, I’m never gonna forget it. It was awesome.”

Llorente, a Nashville-area singer/songwriter, was hunting down recording options online when he discovered Studio Pros. “I really wanted to get this project out, it was real heavy on my heart,” he remembers. “I read about Studio Pros and thought, ‘that’s a good idea.’” Though intrigued by the idea, Llorente still needed convincing that Studio Pros was the best choice for his music. All it took to persuade him was a little research and a phone call to head of production Kati O’Toole.

“The credentials behind the staff are amazing,” he explains. “I actually went and checked out Katie’s albums that she had done. She’s not just a producer, but she’s a musician and songwriter.” Knowing that his songs were in the hands of fellow musicians put Llorente at ease. “I could hear that she’s passionate about what she’s doing. It was cool to have some people that really cared.”

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Featured Artist: Allenton Hill

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Tim and Christopher Allen decided to use Studio Pros to breathe a little life into their recordings.  In the end, they ended up getting a bit more than that.

Along with Brad Ackerman (drums) and Kristin Allen (vocalist), Tim and Chris Allen form the band Allenton Hill, who cite influences as diverse as Owl City (on the song “Fireworks,” listen below) and Switchfoot.  ”Truthfully, most of our music has been influenced by three main bands: Hillsong, Phil Wickham, and Coldplay,” says Tim, who plays lead guitar, does some singing, and is the principal songwriter of the group.  He’s been playing music with his brother Chris, who sings and plays acoustic guitar and piano, since they were kids.  ”When we were young, we were always around music,” Tim remembers.  ”Most everyone in my family plays an instrument or two… Eventually the music fever hit Chris and me.”

“Dad always turned up the music when we were driving around and he’d have me pick out all of the instruments,” says Chris.  ”This led to me having significant appreciation for the details in music.”

The members of Allenton Hill, all in their early twenties, got together when they began to play at a local Youth Center in their hometown of Dayton, OH in 2006.  They met Ackerman, who has now been playing drums for about 16 years, when he ended up living at their house for a short time.  Although he currently lives in Nashville, Ackerman drives up to Ohio every week to be with the band.

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Featured Artist: Robert Norris

Monday, May 17th, 2010

With a little Studio Pros magic, Robert Norris is making music fun again.

Robert Norris had all but given up on music by his early thirties.  ”Music just wasn’t fun anymore,” he remembers. “I basically ran out of steam and decided to get on with my life.”

Norris had been a musician since he was a kid, when he took drum lessons and started his first garage band in junior high. As time went on, he began learning music theory, became a lead singer, and even got to sample the rock star lifestyle in the beach town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. “The summer we graduated, 1975, the drinking age was 18,” he says. “We were playing in bars that we were barely old enough to be in. Lots of fun, great experience, and a taste of the life.”

After a brief stint at UMass Amherst as a vocal music education major, Norris sang in several bands around the Boston area and began writing original music. After a band breakup, he took to the studio to record a cassette tape of original songs called Nobody’s Dream Come True. But despite getting some local airplay and seeing some interest in his songs, Norris felt like he had hit a wall; music was set aside and life went on.

But as most musicians can attest to, the music bug doesn’t easily go away; years later, Norris wanted to start singing again. But having been removed from the scene and all his old musician contacts for so long, he needed to hire session players for his recordings. “I contacted a studio locally,” he says. “Having no other viable options, I scheduled a four-hour session to start my first song. He charged me from the minute I walked in till the minute I left with no allowance for the three breaks the musicians took. And to make matters worse, I didn’t really like what we had recorded.”

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Featured Artist: James Robinson

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

With the help of Studio Pros, James Robinson made recordings on the road and expanded his production company’s clientele.

James Robinson is one of the lead writers and producers of APT6 Entertainment, a music production team (also including Dwayne and Dwight Madison and Greg Edwards) based out of Los Angeles, CA.  As self proclaimed “R&B heads,” the team is heavily influenced by such classic R&B greats as Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and The Underdogs, as well as modern acts like Neyo, The Dream and Trey Songz.

“R&B is just our thing,” Robinson says.  “APT6 was birthed in the church/gospel music scene, so it’s only natural.”

Robinson joined APT6 in 2007, two years after it was formed.  Though originally brought on as a hip-hop artist, he was eventually made a co-owner.  Between Robinson, Edwards and the Madison Brothers, APT6 covered the composing/songwriting and keyboard playing side of things.  Studio Pros helped them have everything they need to be a full-service production team.

“Studio Pros is amazingly simple,” says Robinson.  “I can’t stress that enough.  We uploaded our WAV files, then we were prompted to leave notes and examples of what we were looking for. Within 48 hours we had our first sample! The engineer was almost dead on AND open to making adjustments.”

He soon learned to love the rapid turnaround time that Studio Pros offered.  “When we asked for adjustments on bass levels and reverb, we were shocked at how fast the turn around time was–I believe it was within a few hours,” he remembers.  “That was when I became a huge believer in the quality and customer service of Studio Pros.”

But the real kicker for Robinson was that he and APT6 did everything while they were on the road.  “We were going back and forth between in-home setups and handling a lot of business,” he explains.  Being in one place was close to impossible.”  And what did he think of what Studio Pros did with his simple recordings?  “The results were amazing.” (more…)

Featured Artist: Roger Miller

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Roger Miller, like many musicians, is a bit of a perfectionist. Luckily, Studio Pros is full of perfectionists as well.

At the beginning of summer 2009, Roger Miller acquired the funding he needed to record a full-length album of his Christian alternative acoustic music. In order to get a professional sounding product, Miller decided he would head to Nashville, TN, rent out a recording studio, hire session musicians, and put together an album that could hold its own against any major label production. But during his online search for recording studios, he came across a more convenient option that caught his attention: Studio Pros.

Unsure of whether or not Studio Pros could really deliver the top quality product he was looking for, Miller sent in just one song to test the waters. The final product convinced him to continue on with his entire album. “The final album and the songs, they exceeded my expectations quality-wise,” Miller says.

Miller sang, played guitar and even some cello on his songs, but one of his favorite parts of the process was working with the professional studio musicians that Studio Pros provided. Through this recording process, Miller had access to some of the best musicians in LA playing on his songs, while still involving him in the production of his album. “Going into it, I had pretty high standards,” Miller says. But he was impressed with the caliber of playing he received. “The drum tracks were incredible. They were a lot better than I thought they were going to be. The backing vocals were stellar.” Miller used a strategy that combined using his own very specific musical ideas in conjunction with letting the musicians improvise and do their own thing when the songs called for it.

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Featured Artist: Tommy Owen

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Looking to take his recordings to the next level of professional quality, Tommy Owen teamed up with Studio Pros to make his music radio-ready.

Tommy Owen

“I felt like I was working with a group of super-talented friends that I had known forever.”

Tommy Owen didn’t have a plan for his music; it was simply a hobby for the San Marcos, Texas native.  But working with Studio Pros has a way of opening doors for artists; after putting his songs on MySpace and Facebook, Owen couldn’t help but pay attention to the response he got.  “I must have gotten about 50 emails the day I put it up on MySpace,” he says.  “Half of the feedback is about the quality of the recording!”

Owen, who runs his own graphic design company, has been playing music since he was a teenager.  He soon decided that producing his own music was a lot more fun than playing someone else’s songs in a band, so he bought a 4-track and started recording.  For years, Owen never felt the quality was up to par, but after teaming up with Studio Pros he found himself suddenly being contacted by radio stations asking him for a physical CD (a friend passed on Owen’s music to a radio connection).  He attributes his newfound success to the professional product he was able to make with the help of Studio Pros.

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