Audio and Video Recording
Kenelm recording at Bewdley
Bewdley premiere of "The Ballad of St. Kenelm" by Andrew Downes. Six microphones, three video cameras.

Audio

I specialise in producing accurate, clear, natural-sounding recordings of acoustic music, from soloists to small choirs and chamber ensembles (but I've also recorded folk musicians and ceilidh bands). I concentrate on wide dynamic range, flat frequency response, close to zero distortion, and very low noise levels.

Tea Service

I'm an acoustic musician, and I understand acoustic musicians. Most of us aren't at home in a recording studio, or anywhere near a microphone for that matter. I know that mics are intrusive and panic-inducing. My job as engineer is to deal with the demands of the technology, keep it out of your way as much as possible, and let you get on with making music. And brew lots of tea and coffee if we're recording at Diabolus HQ.

My recording gear is portable, so if you prefer (or need) to record on location, that's fine.

Once we have a clean set of takes, a host of electronic goodies can be thrown at them :

Audio editing on computer

Cutting and pasting down to a thousandth of a second. I can usually chop out the dodgy chord from Take 1 and replace it with the good version from Take 3, blending them so you can't hear the join.

Totally believable reverb. I can make it sound as if it was recorded in the Albert Hall, if that's what you want.

Precise equalisation. If it's too bright, I can damp it down. If it's too dull, I can perk it up. Prominent sibilants can be removed from vocal tracks.

Multitracking. For most classical and early music, the musicians perform, and the music is recorded as it happens. But if you want to add another instrument into an existing mix, or even multitrack the whole thing, I can cope with that.

Digital restoration. If you want an existing recording cleaned up, I do a pretty good job of removing noise, clicks and scratches.

Effects - compression, chorus, flanging, phasing, auto-panning, gated reverb. Pick your poison. I'd never use any of these on classical music, but if it's your thing, it's available.

When it's all done, I produce a master audio file, which can be uploaded to iTunes, Spotify, etc. If you're aiming at CDs, I produce a master CD, and put you in touch with a repro house for churning out multiple copies. I can design inlays if you want to avoid another leraning curve. For very small quantities of CDs (usually 10 or less), I can produce in-house.

Prices

Please see our Price List for current rates.
 

Sample Recordings

Captain Swing, the English Ceilidh Band - from their English Jam CD :

Merry Go Round

Tollhouse Hop

Topcroft Reel/Blackberry Blossom (Excerpt)

Brian Perkins, Classical Guitarist :

Romanza (anon.)

Choros - Heitor Villa-Lobos

 

Video

Here's how to get a professional quality video of your musical performance:
 

Method 1 - the easy way

  • Employ someone who has the equipment and knows how to use it (that's me). You concentrate on performing, I do the tech.
  • You end up with an HD master file that can be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, or streamed directly from your website. iTunes and Spotify are now accepting videos for sale. If you're aiming at DVD, I can produce the master disc, design inlays, etc.

Method 2 - if you have lots of time and enjoy a challenge

  • Buy or hire at least two video cameras, and associated gear like tripods. Footage from a single camera looks static and uninteresting. During the editing, you'll need to change shots regularly. For simple demos, you can get away with two static cameras and inventive editing, but if you can find a competent operator for at least one of them, it gives you more scope.
  • Check the specification of the cameras. They'll need to be full HD, which means at least 1080p/50. A camera that gives this resolution may still perform badly in low light. Even a brightly lit concert hall is nowhere near as bright as a dull day outdoors. You'll need to read reviews and plough through small print.
  • Buy or hire some decent studio microphones and a recording deck. The microphones built into even quite expensive cameras are barely adequate to deliver professional sound, and even if they are, they're in the wrong place. Record your audio on dedicated equipment, and study microphone placement techniques.
  • Buy some decent video editing software (you'll need a fairly high-spec computer) and embrace the learning curve. You'll also need DVD authoring software if you want to produce DVDs.
  • Buy a large teapot and some aspirin. You are likely to need both.

Prices

Please see our Price List for current rates.
 

Sample Video Recordings

Mike Ashley playing Gershwin on a lute
The Ballad of St. Kenelm - a new cantata by Andrew Downes.
Excerpts from the DVD
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