top of page

CONSOLE

Yamaha PM 2000 (1978) mixing console - (Fully Serviced)

24 pre's / 8 busses (various mods) / 20 channels of pultec eq mods

8 channels of API opamps

6 channels of 99v opamps

2 channels of Hybrid opamps / Solo Mods /

CONSOLE

Yamaha PM 2000 (1978) mixing console - (Fully Serviced)

24 pre's / 8 busses (various mods) / 20 channels of pultec eq mods

8 channels of API opamps

6 channels of 99v opamps

2 channels of Hybrid opamps / Solo Mods /

On this page you'll find everything you need to know about getting ready to work with us at Alchemix.

Preparing your home recordings for a Studio Mix

So what's it going to sound like?

 

Well it's going to sound better, and for one main reason. Someone who hasn't heard the music before is going to be able to hear things that you have become used to, which might be getting in the way of an otherwise decent sounding release. Naturally there is only so much one can do in a mixing/mastering session, but as long as tracks aren't digitally clipping and everything has been edited and arranged to its right intentions, the mix engineer will be able to bring it to the next level.

At Alchemix we use some analogue gear for converting tracks, and depending on what your bringing in, we can filter out background hum, white noise and make sure the conversion works at its very best.

Each of our engineers will give you a list of requirements when exporting your stem files, or full multi-track. In some cases, you can simply bring in a portable SSD with your session, and we'll load it up directly. We run Protools, Logic and Ableton.

If you are using some virtual synths that don't come standard with your software, then best to bounce them, or freeze them. In Ableton for instance, you could flatten the tracks, taking that risk out of the equation.

What happens during a mixing session?

 

During your mixing session, once the tracks are converted and uploaded into protools, the engineer will be able to take note of any reference material you have, and begin working on eq, panning, compression and overall levelling.

Additional effects and production ideas can be added, however enough time must be given in order to do this. We can generally mix a band track down in 2 to 4 hrs, if everything is in place and ready to go. If you have a full length album, it is possible to mix it all in a couple days, but we usually recommend mixing one song first, to get a feel for how long the entire album will take. More on mixing here. 

Mastering and Backup?

 

Yes, we do in house mastering too, which costs $125 p/hour. If your budget is tight, the engineer can simply bounce out a version with a limiter in place. If the mix is great, then this quick export will serve fine as a master. Check out our mastering page for more on the specifics.

During your project, your files will be saved on two hard drives. We do however recommend you bring in a portable SSD, to backup your project. We can only guarantee backups for up to 6 months after your project is complete. We don't delete files, we just don't trust hard drives :)

How to prepare for a Recording session

Tips, to help your productivity during a recording session, and how to enquire.

 

  • Be prepared .... be 100% sure on which songs you are going to record.

  • If it's your first time recording, the engineer will want to know if you would like to record with or without a click track. If your drummer hasn't played to a click track before, it would be wise to practice with one to get used to it. We find click tracks are used 50% of the time.

  • Have all the lyrics written out, so that all your takes have the correct words. Quite often we can't use half the takes for a section because the vocalist keeps changing up the meaning :)

  • Bring lots of food and drinks. (Tea and water are available for free at the studio). There are plenty of cafe's and restaurants super close to the studio. We have a large fridge and a microwave. 

 

  • Be prepared to do a lot of sitting around, waiting for each person to record their own part.

  • 90% of the time, with a band, we will record the drums and bass first, then the guitar parts, followed by the keys and voices. Sometimes we record the whole band live, and then start to mute parts that need to be re-done.

  • Don't assume that mistakes will be fixed in the mix down stage, even though it is quite possible, to a degree. The best sound will come from the source, this being you! Take it serious, but don't forget to have a fun and relaxed recording session. Enjoy it!

  • It's best to change guitar strings at least a few days before the recording session, to avoid re-tuning every 5 minutes. Plus new strings don't tend to record well, sweet spot is a few days later, or even a week or two.

  • When making an inquiry, please explain your sound to us, or send us a link to previous recordings or demos, even phone recordings etc. If we have an engineer that suits your style, they will make contact to discuss the next part of the process. Also, if you have a rough idea of budget in mind, feel free to mention that too. We'll then make sure not to suggest some elaborate package, when all you are after is a quick live recording.

Electric Guitar Maintenance

In order to achieve a good sound and keep your instrument in good condition, it must be maintained. Doing so will generally result in greater satisfaction when you play, and get you as a musician in a more receptive head-space to think about, and improve upon your unique sound. If you are at all unsure about any of the procedures I put forth in this document – go and see a guitar tech. These guys know what they're doing, and have all the necessary tools and experience.

General stuff

After playing remember to wipe your strings and fingerboard down with a cloth to remove finger grease – It'll make your strings last longer.

If you lean your guitar up against a wall – make sure you have the fingerboard side facing the wall, this will stop your neck from bending – (see truss rod), and your strings will last longer as moisture and other contaminants falling from the air won't be falling on your strings.

NEVER leave your instrument in a hot car, it can and will warp, buckle, melt, crack, de-laminate and generally wreak havoc on you pride and joy

Restringing

No, I'm not going to try and tell you how to suck eggs, but there may be some things you didn't know.


Some guitarists love new strings, while others prefer the strings once they have been 'played in' and lost some of their treble and bight, others again, esp. jazz guitarists, play flat wound strings with a distinct lack of treble to achieve a smooth syrupy tone.

Whatever kind of Guitarist you are, at some point you will need to change your strings. You probably already have a brand and gauge of string that you prefer, if so, restringing is pretty straightforward, if you change the gauge of string, you will probably need to adjust the intonation. (see below)

The quickest way to remove the old strings is to cut them with wire cutters – otherwise just unwind them. If you have a Fender Stratocaster, or any guitar with a whammy-bar, before you remove the strings, it can be a good idea to remove the back cover, and wedge a piece of wood between the butt of the bridge and the neck end of the cavity (you may have to remove one or more of the springs to do this. This will stop the springs from tilting the bridge backwards once the tension of the strings is removed. And make the guitar much easier to get back into tune once restrung.

This is because the tension of the strings, and the force of the springs balance themselves in an equilibrium holding the instrument in tune. Therefore, if you were to put one string on the guitar, and get it to tune, the addition of another string will cause the first string to go very flat. You can work around this with the block of wood idea, or by only changing one string at a time – but then you can't clean your fingerboard. :-P

Before you start putting the new strings on, rub some graphite powder (available from hardware store) into the nut. This will prevent the string from sticking in the nut and make tuning in future much easier, and is essential for whammy guitars allowing you the stretch and relax the string seamlessly from bridge to machine head. This however is superfluous for Floyd Rose type guitars with locking nuts.

 

Machine heads

This bit is simple, and most of you probably have this worked out. My pointers here are; don't leave the string too long, this results in excess string would around the capstan and often forces the string to wrap back over itself – which in turn causes a much longer bedding in period (string keeps going flat). Ideally you want about two or three revolutions on the capstan on the top E, not more than a ½ dozen on the bottom E, and somewhere in between for the others. Make sure that you wrap the string from top to bottom, and that each revolution butts nicely up against the previous one, this increases the angle that the string takes over the nut – improving tone and sustain

This is why Strats and Tellies have 'string trees' on the B and E strings, and Gibsons have tilted head-stocks.

Truss Rod

This a part in the neck of the guitar that counteracts the pull of the strings from bending the neck. It can usually be adjusted with an allen key.

The idea here is to maintain a basically straight neck. Have a look along the fingerboard from the head-stock of the guitar to check the curvature, and adjust accordingly. Remember to do this with the strings on, because they affect the curvature of the neck. Sometimes it's not always possible to leave the strings on, eg. Some Fenders actually require you to completely remove the neck from the body the get at the adjustment for the truss rod. If you take the neck of with the strings under tension, the guitar can go off like a steel trap. :-O

Gibson type guitars gave a small plastic cover on the headstock behind the nut for accessing the truss rod adjustment.

When you do adjust the truss rod, you should tighten to fight the strings and loosen to allow the strings to pull more curvature into the neck. When tightening – always “help” the neck along by firmly bending it against the pull of the strings while synchronously tightening the truss rod itself. Unless the neck is seriously bent, somewhere between a ¼ turn and ½ turn on the truss rod adjustment should do the trick.

Intonation

This must be tweaked when the guitar has new strings, and is best done with a tuner. The idea is to get the 12th fret note on a given string to play exactly the pitch as the 12th harmonic on that same string.

Scientific content:
In a perfect world, the distance between the nut and the 12th fret would be exactly the same as the distance between the 12th fret and the bridge. But it's not. Here's why:
The string is stretched by pushing it down to the fret, which sharpens the note. 

'Compensation' is the amount that the bridge has to be moved beyond twice the distance from the nut to the octave fret (12th) to get it playing in tune.

More compensation is needed for a higher action.

More compensation is needed for a slacker string - such as low E or plain steel G on a guitar. Hi E only needs a couple of mm. Low E more like 7 mm. Nylon strings don't change pitch as much as steel when stretched - however on ukulele the low C string needs almost 5 mm more compensation than the Hi A.

Classical guitar needs less because the strings are tighter. Classical saddles are often cut to try to make the G string longer, but there's not enough width in a classical saddle to get the required amount of compensation.

Since the frequency/pitch of the harmonics is set by the tension of the string, and the frequency/pitch of the fretted notes is a product of the tension and the length of the string, this allows us to change the pitch of the fretted note by moving the saddle on the bridge and leave the harmonic unaffected. In essence, we can tune the fretted note to the harmonic. If the fretted note is sharp, make the string longer by 'tightening' the saddle screws on the bridge moving the saddle back, and vice-a-versa if the fretted note is flat. As you make small adjustments at the bridge, keep checking the open string or the harmonic is in tune with your tuner and make adjustments as necessary with the machine head – (because as you adjust the intonation at the bridge, the overall string will go out of tune).

Happy maintaining! (written by Josh Bell)

Drum Kit Maintainance

Maintenance of the drums is fairly straightforward, but there are several things that you will usually not learn from your teacher or music school.

Snare

It's little known that this is by far, the most delicate and fragile part of your kit, the snare wires in particular, are a crucial, and an extremely frail part of this drum. Moreover, snare wires ain't snare wires either; you can spend as little as $8, and as much as $80 on wires, and the difference is profound. Give it a try, I know I was amazed the first time I tried anything other than the cheapest wires at the music store. By a process of trial and error I eventually discovered my preferred strand count, loop size and overall snare tension.

By just brushing your hand across the snare wires you can very easily stretch a few strands out so they are longer than the others, resulting in constant buzzing when you play the snare, and unacceptable sympathetic buzzing when playing other drums. To get around this, most players will tighten their wires up, and sure, it reduces the buzzing, but because the other wires are now much tighter than ideal, they choke the drum and you have then lost most of the body and tone. For this reason I profess that snare wires should be set as loose as possible to obtain the desired length of snare sound after the initial impact.

Tuning Toms

There are a few modes of thought regarding tuning, the first and probably most accepted is open tuning, where all lugs on each head are the same tension, and both heads are tuned to the same pitch.

You can then experiment with the ratio of pitch between the top and bottom heads, somewhere between a major 3rd and a perfect 5th will give you some tone flare, (ie. The tone starts high and slides down as it decays). The further apart the two heads are in terms of pitch, (within reason), the more tone flare you get.

This tuning is achieved by deadening one of the two heads, and tuning the other by tapping it with your finger about an inch from the hoop, directly in front each lug. If any lugs are significantly flat from the average pitch of the all the others bring them up slightly, and if any are sharp bring them down. When lowering the pitch of any lug, it's wise to undo the lug about a ½ turn more than necessary and bring it back up, otherwise it will take some time for the new tuning to stabilise – and probably go out of tune as you play.

Opposite lugs tend to have the greatest effect on each other, if you find it difficult to get a drum in tune with itself, check the tension of opposing lugs by pressing your thumbs into the head near the edge of the head at opposing lugs at the same time, if one side is significantly different, match them to each other.

The other 'method' for tuning toms is to basically leave one or two lugs on the batter head completely, or almost completely undone. This can introduce more character into the sound and can be useful when playing Jazz, Hip-Hop, or Funk.

The ultimate key is to experiment, just make sure you do it with reasonably new heads, because old heads can play tricks on you.

If you really can't get a drum to sound right, and the heads are in reasonable condition, take it off the kit and see how it sounds when you hold it by the rim and hit it – even go to another part of the room, or a different room altogether, and try it there. You may find that it's either the room acoustics, or the mounting hardware making the drum sound thin and wussy.

When setting up a kit, I'll often walk around the room beating the floor tom as I go, searching for the spot in the room with the longest sustain, and the fattest sound, and set up there. (Credit due to Michael Stavrou for that cool tip).

Replacing heads

If a drum is impossible to tune or to get a good sound from, chances are the head(s) need replacing, I generally replace the bottom head every other time I replace the top head, for snares, you can do the same, and replace the snare wires say, every 3rd time you replace the top head.

I don't recommend replacing every head on your drums at the same time – this can be terifying, especially right before a gig or recording session as it can take several weeks before they properly bed and start sounding right.

When you do replace a head, whip off the old one (that should be simple) and check the bearing edge (the rim of the drum shell) for dents, splinters, and anything else that that ruin perfect 360° contact between the shell and the head, if you spot something it's best to get it repaired – (the condition of the bearing edge is a critical factor in the sound you'll end up with).

Notice how the head you took off has a depression in the centre? That's a big part of what makes old heads so hard to tune, as tension is no longer distributed evenly throughout the head. Bottom heads don't exhibit this, but do loose their tone nonetheless. Removing snare bottom heads will require the removal of the snare wires.

Give the bearing edge a wipe with a dry cloth, remove any debris from inside the shell, and put the new head over the shell. Give the inside of the hoop a wipe – there will probably be lots of caked on dirt in here, and place the hoop over the head and start threading the lugs. (don't forget the washers) – a tiny amount of grease is also a good idea if the bolts are dry, and especially if they are beginning to rust.

To seat the head properly, get all the lugs finger tight and check that everything is going on straight, and the head, hoop and shell are all meeting uniformly right the way round. You can begin to tighten each lug by a ¼ turn either criss-crossing across the drum doing each opposite lug in turn, or by doing a ¼ turn on each lug going round in a circle – either direction is fine. Don't do one lug up a lot before there is any real tension on all of the others. This can warp your hoop, damage your new head, and causes improper seating.

Bass Drums

Now this is very personal, bass drums come in all shapes and sizes and the 'ideal' sound varies greatly between genres, and from player to player. This is basically up to you – but I'll tell you what I've discovered.

The resonant side is probably more important to the sound that the beater head (the opposite from other drums, but both do play a big part of the overall sound). If you use heaps of stuffing, you can almost afford to tune your kick so low the head has wrinkles, this generally gives a nice subby 'thump' without much tonal character. It's hard to go wrong here really, but it's also hard to go right (yes, I know there's not really a 'wrong or right'), so I tend to use this as an 'if all else fails' approach.

On the other hand, you can tune you drum up, and run it without much in the way of padding, and go for tone and sustain. A trap for young players to beware, is tuning down when going for a bigger sound, after all, lower means bigger right? Not necessarily, often the lower you tune a largely empty bass drum, the thinner it will sound, as the drum itself can't support such a low frequency.

When using this approach for recording, it can be worth looking at your bass drum technique, do you hit the kick and leave the beater stuck to the head until the next beat? Or do you let the beater rebound naturally after it's impact with the head? The latter will give much more tone and arguably a better sound, but is much harder to play fast or accurately, so try it first with very simple beats, and listen to the sound.

I've never had any success putting rocks, bricks, or weights in the bass drum when recording, and think it's an urban myth. I came to this conclusion then I discovered that bass drums sounded far better when no toms were mounted from them, and even better with the absence of the mounting hardware, in short – unadulterated shells sound better. Various companies gave us floating shells, isolation mounts, and fancy decoupling floor tom feet to this end.

Cymbals

Just pointers for care here;

After you have set up make sure that your cymbals have reached room temperature, if they've been in a hot car they'll be a bit more bendy, or if it's very cold they tend to go a bit brittle, either way you have more change of irreversible damage if you don't let them adjust.

If you play Metal or Punk etc., you'll likely keep your cymbals pretty tightly clamped on their stands, which is great for riding on crashes or playing fast passages on the cymbals without them swinging wildly. Doing this will also *drastically* increase your chances of breakage, and choke your cymbals. I set mine up so from resting, the cymbal can travel through to near vertical, and I don't play hard enough to need this much travel. The result? Great sounding cymbals that love to open up and deliver their fullest richest tone, and not one breakage in 17 years of playing.

If you want to polish cymbals, don't use steel wool or harsh polishes. Try instead a dedicated cymbal polishing fluid and a cloth, or even vinegar will likely melt some of that green stuff. Personally I'm fond of green cymbals, some drummers even bury their cymbals in the ground to acellerate the ageing/greening process. Ultimately it's up to you, just be sure to store your cymbals in a case with a layer of something (paper, bubble wrap, plastic, old drumhead, whatever) in between each one so they can't damage each other.

Preparing for studio mix
Preparing for recording
Guitar maintainance
Drum kit maintainance
  • Alchemix Link Tree
  • Alchemix Recording Studios Instagram
  • Alchemix Spotify Client Playlist
bottom of page