“BEST OF BOTH WORLDS”
Read about our concept and learn what makes Vuurland so unique in the field of recording studios.
Software plug-ins & so called DAW´s have taken over most music studios these days. And to be honest, new digital technology has definitely brought sound engineers a much faster and a far more precise workflow over the last 25 years. But it was never meant to make a band sound ´cold´, which in many cases it does unfortunately. At least to the ears of many. In reaction, the art & sound of analog recording is making a strong comeback. Now more than ever, musicians & producers are turning to hardware. In Vuurland I try to combine the best of both the digital and analogue way of recording, but strongly focus on the latter. Why so?
First, we’re being reacquainted heavily with ‘old school’, these days. For example: vinyl is coming back stronger and stronger and in terms of fashion you never really know what you’ll see coming next from grandmother’s closet. Thereby, when you hear the quality of recently analogue recorded albums, you simply have to notice that the recordings sound amazing. How come?
Well, there are some important factors to mention here like ´tape, microphones, pre-amps, analogue outboard, environment and expertise´.
First off cause, there is tape which is, in itself, like another instrument. It reacts in tone and sound to the amplitude of the recorded source. The return for heavy volume is tone, and a cool distortion. Not the digital mess that you hear when you record too hot in a DAW. This fringe benefit of analog recording has been widely exploited on many of the albums we’ve all grown up with and consider classic.
The downside of tape recording though, is that it is far too expensive for most bands and also the recorders need lots of maintenance. Consequently, it is not accessible to bands that work independently without the bigger budgets of the main music industry. These days especially, a studio has to balance time and budget against the cost of analog. In `Vuurland´ we decided, for that reason, to record digital in ProTools and get the desired analogue sound from all necessary other sources.
Thereby, these days it is quite possible to emulate the character of tape sound with newer ´state of the art´ digital tape emulators from manufacturers as UAD, which I provide in Vuurland. Off cause, if the budget is high enough and the client is destined to record on real tape, there is always the possibility to hire a tape machine to set up in `Vuurland´.
Now let me see into the other aspects of recording that provide this great analogue, or if you like, vintage sounding recordings. Cause this is where `Vuurland´ fully comes in.
First of all, recording in a room designed and tuned for recording is a completely different experience from recording in your bedroom and trying to get the ‘best sound possible’. When recording in a professionally treated room, designed from the ground up as a music facility, the aim switches from environment to the actual talent, where it should be. In `Vuurland` you will find such a treated room. It´s not the biggest, but big enough to make those “Fat Sounds For Skinny Budgets”.
Next to a good sounding room other technical gear plays a major part in getting that warm, fat sound. Off cause, we all know that it all starts with the right instruments and performance of the musicians involved, but after that, capturing the deliverance is where it´s at. Before it actually gets recorded, it passes a certain electronical chain that is of crucial importance to the final sound.
First in that chain off cause are microphones. In Vuurland I have a broad range of vintage and newer, high quality microphones to choose from. Thereby I know which one to use in all different situations, which might be as important as the microphone itself. Finding the right microphone for the right job is an important added value of my engineering skills.
But just like every microphone puts its own flavor on the tracks, so do so called ´pre-amps´. This is often, unfortunately, the highly underestimated part in the chain of good recordings. Amplifiers for all sorts of purpose (as many audio experts will confirm) have a great, not to say equal impact on the final sound. Also do pre-amps in amplifying the primal sound coming from the microphones used. Because these signals still have low voltage and need to be amplified in order to record/hear them loud. Finding the right combination of microphone and pre-amp is the indispensable knowledge a sound engineer can offer. In Vuurland I have the right set up and knowledge. Sorry to get a little detailed here, but I provide with ten characteristic, so called Neve pre-amps, used by BBC radio in the late Seventies. Neve is also the manufacturer that designed the pre-amps used on many classic recordings (from all Beatles records to Nirvana´s ´Never Mind´ to mention just a few). Next to that I have two of the first designed ´Focusrite´ channel strips, designed by the same Rupert Neve in co-operation with Beatles producer George Martin. In addition to those classic old timers I have four recently designed UAD pre-amps that contain tubes, to dial in that typical tube-sound if desired. All of this can be expended by vintage outboard gear to give that extra desired flavor to any sound. By this I mean the analogue compressors, reverbs, tape & spring delays etcetera that we have available in `Vuurland´ and that origin from the very beginning of Vuurland in 1983.
After this long and beautiful journey our sound has travelled, it will now have that desired, typical analogue flavor. So finally sending that into the digital domain with high quality AD/DA convertors (UAD), I will have full control in post-production over an already great sounding source. Now (not an instant earlier!) I can start to enjoy all the benefits of digital software for editing, mixing and mastering the music. Doing so I have achieved ´The Best of Both Worlds´ and I will be able to deliver the mixes, or masters that will sound great on any device. Be it on vinyl or Spotify.
But that still is not all. Probably most important factor in the whole recording process is an obvious and already implied one, called “Expertise”. As a studio engineer that has years of working experience within many studio´s and with particular pieces of gear, I can do something that one´s DAW can never create. By knowing the best mic placement, the best spots within the room and dialing musicians in, so that they sound as incredible as they always knew they did. There is no going through a manual, it´s true experience. People don’t hire a bass player that has never played. You look for one that has years of experience, and the chops to show for it. The same goes for a sound engineer.
On top of that I can guide musicians through the hard and diffuse process of recording music. Having been there for about 35 years I know how to deal with any situation in the studio and will be the objective ´bandmember´ with the appropriate distance to the songs. The distance that helps out in making the right choices in all different stages of the recording process. I could be your ultimate weapon against tunnel vision. Finally, I know all about the importance of something as simple sounding as ´inspiration´ and I certainly have my ways to keep the spirit alive during long sessions.
Last but not least: Recording in a professional studio may not be cheap in the first place, but hey, so isn´t a cellphone. Part of my mission though, is asking fair rates to make it all accessible not only to the chosen few with the unlimited budgets.
Feel welcome to visit our studio for a tour and learn more about all the possibilities.