The Sidrat live room

My studio's live room is where all the golden moments happen in your performance. It's a great space for the recording of a variety of different sound sources, from the human voice to solo acoustic, electric and electronic instruments of all kinds, from guitars to percussion.

It's a small room, generously coated in acoustic treatment, preventing echoes and reflections, which provides full control of the audio environment. The room is of a non-standard shape, which also helps with the acoustics, ensuring that the audio I record in the live room is neutral and uncoloured by unwanted ambience. This is a great starting point for mixing, allowing for complete control over the sound, which enables me to adapt the music's tone and shape with total freedom.

I've chosen a few tracks to illustrate the range of music I've worked on, so please have a  listen, as they should give you an idea of the recording quality I'm capable of producing in my little studio - and there are some very nice tunes to enjoy, too...

Want to book a recording session?

Please get in touch and we'll work out all the details. If you're having trouble working out what you need, please take a look through my packages - you may find some inspiration and you'll be able to see the rates I charge for my services.

Recording vocals

Singers and rappers

Vocals are the key element of any song and, as such, they deserve special attention. Whether you're performing to pre-recorded backing music or as part of a larger group, I have the experience to make sure your voice shines through.

When you get behind the mic, you're the sole focus. As well as monitoring the recording levels, I'll be paying close attention to your performance, listening to your tone and delivery. I've worked with a wide range of vocalists, from local pop singers to Rat Pack crooners, cruise-liner entertainers to West End performers, R'n'B Soul vocalists to old-school Hip-hop rappers, Rock and Indie front men to grime artists.

All these artists have a very different approach, but they do have one thing in common - they're performers - and it's my job to help you achieve the best possible performance.

Spoken word

I also work with spoken word artists, some leading their listeners in meditation, while others narrate stories to be released as audio books, and a few producing audio snippets for corporate marketing videos. Spoken word recording requires a slightly different set-up, but a large proportion of the work involved in creating the finished item comes down to accurate audio editing in post-production, which you can read more about on my Mixing page.

Next steps...

After recording is completed, the next stage is to mix your vocal with its backing music, which will involve adjusting EQ settings, adding compression and other dynamic effects, maybe some modulation and a bit of reverb or delay. Then if we're getting creative there's room for a host of other plug-ins, too. See my Mixing page for more info.

If you're using someone else's instrumental to perform your vocals over, that's absolutely fine - I'm happy to use whatever audio you supply. But if you'd like your own original music instead, I can also produce custom backing tracks for any genre - check out my Sequencing page for more information and examples of my previous sequencing work.

Example vocal recording tracks:

  1. This track by Flava was a simple vocal recording to his supplied backing music, which I believe he produced himself. The vocal on the verses has been double-tracked as a special effect to help the vocal stand out.

  1. Laura is a great singer, with a huge repertoire of tracks at her disposal, from jazz to heavy metal and she's capable of nailing her performance almost every take, whatever genre she's singing at the time. No special effects here, just clarity through the judicious use of dynamics and reverb.

  1. Kyel&Amar are a couple of young rappers, who supplied me with a backing track by one of their favourite artists, to which they had written their own lyrics. We recorded a couple of tracks in a 2 hour session, then the lads left me alone to mix.

  1. William Byrne is an experienced crooner, performing at regular gigs around London. He also has a loyal fan-base in Ireland. His vocal has a strong, classic tone, perfectly suited to the type of music he sings.

  1. This snippet is taken from a short story written by Douglas Wood as part of a compilation of his short ghost stories. The voice is that of Mike Dodsworth, a local Storyteller, who is an incredible vocal talent when it comes to the spoken word. All the Ghost Stories are available on Amazon.

Instrument recording

Audio capture

I use a wide range of microphones in any number of set-ups, often using 2 or more microphones to capture the sound of various instruments. From basic percussion such as tambourines and hand drums, to brass and woodwind instruments, including saxophone, trumpet, flute, clarinet, etc.

Then there are the more complex acoustic instruments like acoustic guitar, violin, cello, double-bass, banjo and other stringed instruments, all of which benefit from extended mic-ing techniques, as do acoustic drum kits, requiring anything from 8 to 16 simultaneous channels.

Amplified instruments like electric guitar and bass, as well as some keyboards, are usually less involved, but they can still use several mixer channels at once. Of course, keyboards and other electronic instruments that have a mono or stereo output socket can go directly to the mixer's recording input without the need for a microphone at all.

I also offer MIDI recording via keyboard or 4x4 pads and other hardware controllers and sequencers, accessing sounds in-the-box from software samplers, synthesizers, drum machines and more, as well as various hardware alternatives. You can even use your own breath controller with my hardware synths, sound modules and samplers, should you wish.

In the Studio... ...and out of it!

If you're a solo artist or a singer working with a second musician, then we have several recording solutions for you to choose from. We can record almost anything you can imagine in our cosy garden studio, whether simultaneously or step-recorded (see 'Your recording options' below).

My small studio is ideally suited to recording solo artists and duo projects as well as bands who are happy to take turns at step-recording their parts to build up their tracks in layers. I can also cater for small ensembles and groups performing live simultaneously, when acoustic separation isn't required.

I do have a portable recording system, which can be set up in almost any environment. So, if you would prefer to record in a specific location, just let me know and I'll be happy to discuss the details.

I feel that the quality of the music I produce speaks for itself - wherever I record it - so please take some time to listen to a few tracks.

Example instrument recording tracks:

  1. Richard Capener is an exceptional guitarist, who employs the interesting technique of using a combination of traditional playing, pull-offs and hammer-ons with percussive tapping and slapping of both the strings themselves as well as the guitar's body in a variety of positions in order to create a rhythmic accompaniment and a highly unique style to his beautifully composed pieces.

  1. Guide Dogs for the Dead (or Jim, as I know him) writes gentle, thoughtful songs with simple yet effective chord structures and an unassuming style. Sometimes he even writes the tracks during the recording process, bringing just the seed of an idea with him to the studio.

  1. This track was written as a purely acoustic song, which was then embellished on the fly in the studio, with a range of musical and vocal layers being added as the track evolved. The drums were produced by a Kaossillator, while the bass guitar was recorded live, as was the flute.

  1. Besides his vocal, Dave Harvey's main instrument is his acoustic guitar, which was recorded on multiple mics placed in specific locations to gain a variety of tones. I used a drum track as a tempo guide, which was then muted after all the other instrumental and vocal layers had been recorded, but keep an ear out for the drums reemerging right at the end.

Recording options

Live Recording

Recording your vocals at the same time at the instrument you're playing can often feel more real for a singer-songwriter, because that's how the track was written in the first place, and that's how it's performed, too. This approach can often result in a much more expressive recording, capturing the true essence of your performance, so if it's an option, I would recommend you consider it. It also saves quite a bit of time during the recording process, especially if your instrument doesn't require any microphones, such as an electronic keyboard with a stereo line-out - or even better; MIDI.

On the other hand, if your instrument is acoustic, necessitating the use of microphones, it will take a little longer to set up and, due to the issues arising from microphone bleed, where the vocal mic unavoidably picks up audio from the instrument (and vice-versa) it can make mixing a little trickier, too. But if you're laying down multiple tracks - and if you know them all by heart - you can get a lot done in a surprisingly short amount of time... and save yourself a bit of cash, too!

Step Recording

This is the method you'll want to use if you intend on adding more than just the one instrument and a vocal line. Step recording involves the recording of each instrument and vocal layer one at a time, gradually adding all the track's different elements. This, of course, results in longer recording times than that of live recording and can have less of a live feel (which is sometimes exactly what you're looking for...), although that's not always the case - with another band member playing along in your cans, you can still get into the groove quite comfortably.

However, step-recording also allows for much more flexibility in the mixing process, opening up further options with totally independent control of each layer, facilitating level, pan, dynamic and effect changes. All of these additional techniques being available make it possible to alter the sound of each element dramatically, should it become necessary, as well as making it more effective when applying more subtle changes.

The choice is yours...

Example live recording tracks:

  1. Tom Parkes is a very talented songwriter - and he's got a great voice, to boot! This offering is a prime example of his skills in creating an atmosphere to suit his content matter, along with a sweet groove. This track was recorded live, with Tom performing both guitar and vocals together, in order to capture a natural take and safe a few quid in the process.

  1. The following instrumental jam was a pure improvisation captured on 16 separate channels, while the band played in one room, all together with no more separation between them than a few feet of air. This gives the whole recording a really authentic sound and feel, almost as if you're there in the room with them.

Example step recording tracks:

  1. The March Fleet are a local Chelmsford band, who were recently nominated for the Panic Awards (2017). This track is a mini epic in their own unique style, which was step-recorded in my little studio for most part, but not solely. The drums were recorded in a practice studio in order to get a more ambient room sound (more details on my Band Packages page.

  1. Third Dart is the latest project involving some lads I've worked with under many guises over the years. But whatever they do, it's always got guts and feeling and it's always got a lovely raw edge - they're not afraid of a bit of dirt. All the instruments were recorded one at a time in the Sidrat studio, including the drums, and yet the track definitely retains a very live-sounding edge.