Shockwave-Sound Blog and Articles
Amazing new Drums / Percussion tracks now available to license at Shockwave-Sound

Amazing new Drums / Percussion tracks now available to license at Shockwave-Sound

Drummer playing drum kitOur producer David G Steele teamed up with the amazingly talented and skilled drummer, Mark Walker, to produce 15 hefty, punchy, funky and incredibly useful drums only music tracks for use with commercials, presentations, TV/video, YouTube etc. Check them out! The top 15 tracks on this page are the brand new material from David & Mark.

https://www.shockwave-sound.com/browse/artist/david-g-steele/stock-music/order-date/standard/50

Mark’s live performance on the drum kit is cleverly mixed with samples and programming to create “Percussion only” tracks that work so well in media, advertising, film etc. When you remove all other sounds, the drums seem to speak an entirely new language on their own. We are proud to be able to offer these tracks as royalty-free music here at Shockwave-Sound and we hope that many of you will find them useful for your media projects.

Custom made solutions and agreements

At Shockwave-Sound.com we are happy to work with you if you have special requirements or need a custom solution for music and/or sound effects. For example:

  • You would like a Subscription type model where you can download a specific number of tracks per day, or per month.
  • You’re working on a project and you don’t know exactly how much music you’ll need, but you need an agreed license fee for the whole project. (This would be called a Blanket License for your project).
  • You have your own corporate Licensing Agreement that you need us to sign when you license our music.
  • You have a YouTube channel and you’d like to simply be able to use any music from our library on your channel, for a fixed annual or monthly fee. (A Blanket License for your YouTube channel).

For these kinds of special needs or requests, contact us to discuss. We will try our best to come up with a fee structure and a process that works for you. Within reason, of course. We are under obligation to our artists and content providers, to obtain a fair licensing fee for their work, so they can put food on their table and continue to work on new music. Our music will never be licensed for “race to the bottom” type pricing.

To discuss your needs, email [email protected] or fill in our contact form.

Making voice recordings at home

Making voice recordings at home

How to remotely record an interview or voiceover

More and more actors and producers will be turning to remote recordings as travel to recording studios become less feasible – and less necessary. Whether or not you are used to travelling to a professional recording studio, it’s always good practice for voiceover artists, podcasters and actors to have a basic home studio set up, as it is a huge advantage when pitching for voice work or being available for podcast interviews or radio promotion. So in this article we’ll look at a basic set up that will secure those voiceover jobs by recording high quality results from the comfort of your own home.

A History

Before the internet, remote recording was all about having a solid Integrated Service Digital Network connection. An ISDN line is a telephone-based network system that allowed actors and voiceover artists to make digital recordings over a phone line. It was perfect for a home studio set up when real-time recordings were required by broadcasters. By simply connecting to an ISDN line, the actor could transmit full bandwidth voice recordings that would be captured at the other end by a professional broadcast studio and instantly spun into a news item or advertisement.

However, using ISDN has become redundant since broadband became widely available worldwide. The ISDN system is being slowly phased out by telephone companies and will no longer be an option in 5 years time.

So now let’s look at the software options that have replaced ISDN as a viable remote recording system in the age of the internet.

Easily done. Voice apps are free!

Well, yes they are and many would turn to Skype or Messenger or one of the many audio/visual apps that dominate the mobile phone market. But the drawback is the quality of the sound. Realtime video apps have very poor sound quality, often giving the impression they were recorded underwater or in a wind tunnel! In real terms, these free apps are not a viable option and at best would be OK for a cheap podcast or to record a celebrity who wouldn’t have the technical know-how to produce anything better. We can safely strike free mobile phone apps off this list for the time being.

The best option is to pay a monthly fee (or reduced annual fee) for a good, dedicated app with technical backup. This outlay is nothing that can’t easily be recovered with one fairly well-paid voiceover job that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to produce under current isolation circumstances.

So, what’s out there?

There are many, many remote recording apps, programs and software on the market.

Zencastr, for instance, has a free plan that allows 8 hours of mp3 recordings per month for up to 2 people. The full bandwidth wav file recording starts at $20 per month. Zencastr includes a browser soundbar feature so you can upload music, intros and ads. It has a post-production feature that adds noise reduction and adjusts levels to broadcast standards. It has the option of backing up files to DropBox, backup being an important feature when recording remotely.

Squadcast is another current hot contender. It’s run by a bunch of podcast enthusiasts who were frustrated by the quality of results when producing interviews from various locations around California and decided to set up their own system. It’s an efficient, effective way to record one, two or multiple voices (up to four) over the internet. Your voice is uploaded as it’s being recorded. And at the same time is automatically backed up. You get all the support you need from a team of highly skilled technicians. And all this for $17 per month. That gives you 5 hours of audio recordings. If you need more, there’s a Pro package for $38 per month for 12 hours recording. Or go for a starter pack at $9 per month. Indeed with 2 hours of recording, you could take the ‘Dabbler’ package for just one job. Although for broadcast standard recordings, the overall pricing seems very reasonable indeed and worth a punt on the discounted annual fee. Squadcast will very soon include video, which even for audio recordings is a useful tool for communicating with the remote studio.

Ringr has integrated the mobile phone (IOS and Android) so all participants can call from their phone in addition to the Firefox or Chrome web app where the recordings are made. Useful if it’s a committee recording or requires input from a variety of people. The Ringr package is $18.99 per month for a premium plan.

IpDTL is marketed as a replacement for the aforementioned ISDN and aimed at professional recording studios. It ranges from £10 per month (UK) or a £15 day pass for a single day’s recording.
Perhaps a little more technical than others, but none the less a great option for technically minded voice artists requiring rock-solid industry standard results.

So there are just a few of the available apps and programs. There are lots more including Zoom, Cleanfeed, Clearcast and Soundtrap. All offering a variety of packages similar to the four featured here. One thing to remember before choosing a remote recording app is that it’s a 2-way thing. The studio or broadcaster that offers you the work may have a prefered system of remote recording and wish you to comply with that. The apps mentioned here would be intended to give you an opportunity to accept work and then offer a method of delivery to your customer.

So that’s the software. What next?

As for hardware, this depends on how far you wish to take your home studio set up. For these purposes, we are discussing single voice recordings. (they may end up as multiple voices, but each station is recording a single voice). So the requirements are fairly basic and straight forward.

Most importantly you will need a high-quality microphone. After all, you will be downloading software that is capable of recording broadcast quality files. So it’s not wise to cut corners or use microphones that are built into your PC or MAC. These are poor quality and only of use for domestic use such as facetime and video conversations.

Microphones

These days it’s possible to plug directly into your system via a USB port. There are a variety of microphones available on the market that connect via USB. For voice recording, the best would be something like the Rode NT-USB. The (originally) Australian based Rode has an outstanding reputation for providing high-quality voice mics after introducing the sublime Rode NT2 in 1992. To this day, the NT2 has proved to be as popular as ever in the home-based studio market. So, for this reason, it’s really the number one choice, whether you decide on a USB connection or XLR, which we’ll get on to later.

Other choices may be the Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS. It’s a condenser mic, which makes it very sensitive to background noise such as traffic or children(!) But the quality is very good indeed and the AT2020 is the XLR version of the same microphone.

Both these microphones are under $200 in price, making them a very affordable option when setting up your home recording studio.

Others include the Rode Podcaster (Rode again!), the SE Electronics X1S (SE Electronics have a huge range of vocal mics) and the Blue Yeti (a firm favourite with podcasters and for good reason).

So there we have it. A whole range of high-quality affordable microphones. Not forgetting of course that you will need a pop shield (some are provided as standard) as you will be recording your voice at very close range.
I mentioned an XLR connection which is the standard balanced connector for a microphone. You may prefer this to a USB mic as the XLR is likely to produce better, cleaner results. However, it does mean that you will require an audio interface to get the signal into your computer. Having said that, XLR is the best option for the best results, even though it is slightly more complicated to connect (see audio interface below).

Headphones

As with the microphones, there is a huge range of headphones available. Audio-Technica, Shure and Sony make a vast range, but my personal choice would be Beyeringer’s DT 250s. A good all-round pair of ‘cans’ that have an excellent dynamic range and are uncoloured or flat, meaning that what you are hearing is very much the same as the signal that is being recorded. With headphones, as with most equipment, it’s a personal choice so it’s good to test out a few different models before you make your final choice.

Audio interface

OK, we have a mic, we have headphones. Now wouldn’t it be great to have a box we could plug all that into, that not only allowed us to control the sound, but also acted as a pre amp to boost the signal from the mic and finally, converted our analogue voice into a digital signal?

Well, yet again there are many available. In fact some companies bundle together mic, headphones and interface for a very reasonable price. But my view is that not all companies are experts at producing all these 3 devices and you may be substituting convenience for quality in at least one of the items.

For this reason, I would recommend a tried and tested company for the audio interface and plump for the Focusrite Scarlett. There is a huge number of these available in the range, each with different features for different applications. The Scarlett Solo USB, for instance, has gain control for both XLR/jac mic and jac headphones. Everything needed for single voice recordings.
Other manufacturers of top quality audio interfaces include PreSonus, Beyeringer and Audient. Needless to say, there are many more.

And away you go…

Well, maybe not quite, but with all the above, you are definitely on the way to saying “yes”, when a studio asks, “can you record from home?”

And of course, all this can be taken as far as you want. You may decide for instance that you need to back everything up at home, in which case you could run a DAW such as Cubase or Garageband continually recording the entire session. Or you could then simply edit and use these recordings as your finished files. Alternatively, have a separate output to a Zoom H6 handheld recorder or similar. So that you can make remote copies of the entire session.

Once these decisions are made, all you need to do is find a quiet, dampened (lots of carpet, less windows) room in your house, away from water pipes, traffic, children and pets. download the software and familiarise yourself with the functions. Install your audio interface, making sure it has all the relevant drivers to operate on your system. Plug in your mic and headphones, either via USB or the audio interface. Test everything dozens of times, so that there are no hitches when you begin recording. And away you go.

You can’t always rely on somebody else being available with the equipment and knowledge to record good quality podcasts and voice recordings, so getting used to working independently from home will give you an edge, and more options going forward.

Simon Power is a sound designer & composer for BBC’s Doctor Who audio dramas. He is signed to Banco De Gaia’s Disco Gecko record label and as Dream Valley Music he produces music cues for all types of visual media. He is recently a credited composer on the Emmy nominated Amazon Prime series, Conversations in LA.

 

10 Ways to Stay Fit and Healthy in the Recording Studio

10 Ways to Stay Fit and Healthy in the Recording Studio

Music studios are notoriously unhealthy environments. Low lighting, stale air, computer screens and overexposure to loud volumes eventually take their toll on mental and physical well being. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the tried and tested methods designed to avoid bad health, anxiety, depression and the eventual demise of our beloved music makers, music producers and engineers.

1. Stay Fit. Don’t Sit.

Not for too long, anyhow. Being sedentary is a sure-fire way to drastically decrease lifespan and show signs of premature ageing. Take regular breaks from the seated position. And why not listen to those latest demos on a mobile device while out for a run? Or take a cue from legendary Sound Designer, Walter Murch and work standing up. It hasn’t hurt him in his 50 year studio career!

2. It’s Never Too Late to Rehydrate.

The standard daytime liquid refreshment in the recording studio is tea and coffee. Depending on the client, this may be replaced by something a little more alcoholic as the session wears on. But all of these drinks are diuretic and actually speed up dehydration by excreting water from the body. That’s why you need to drink plain old H2O. Up to 8 glasses a day is recommended. There are loads of benefits including better looking skin and healthier kidneys. Other advantages include the price. Apart from the bottled variety, it flows pretty much for free!

3. Light Up Your Life

It’s a sad fact that many recording studios don’t feature too many windows. Glass being the arch-enemy of sound frequencies, n’all. So it’s important to get a daily dose of sun rays, or at the very least, daylight. Before, during or (less likely) after your time in the studio. Even 15 minutes exposure to daylight daily can increase bone density and benefit mental health. Supplement this with a boost of Vitamin D and by eating plenty of greens like spinach, artichokes and broccoli (see no. 5) and soon you’ll notice a real difference in mood. And what’s more, it comes with fresh air, too.

4. Living The Screen.

Look around you. Probably right now you’re surrounded by screens. Computers, cell phones and laptops. All throwing out billions of pixels worth of electric light straight down your poor tired retinas. Screens can damage eyesight and cause insomnia. They can also drain energy levels making you feel tired, yet unable to sleep. Adjust the brightness to the lowest level possible and try apps like F.lux that adapts the display to the time of day and loads of other funky stuff. Too.
During a lunch break, why not ditch the phone altogether and buy a newspaper? It’s a great way to spend some time away from screens and to keep in touch with reality (depending on the paper, of course!).

5. Eat to The Beat

OK, here’s another impossible goal when you have demanding clients and stupid deadlines to meet. But a healthy diet is so important if you want to live long enough to reap the benefits of all this studio work you’re doing. And, yes, even most takeaways have a healthy option these days. But just be aware that it’s still highly processed food and will be crammed with salt, sugar and fat. Better to fall in love with preparing your own food. Studying nutritional eating habits like the Mediterranean Diet or Wholefoods. Switching to mono saturated oleic acid fats found in olive oil and avocados. Stepping up the vegetables, whole grains, pulses and oily fish. There are even healthy option food delivery services like Just Eat and Deliveroo. Keep your diet healthy and your body will thank you in so many ways.

6. All Things In Moderation.

OK, let’s not get too preachy and matriarchal. But if you’ve spent a lifetime in recording studios, one thing becomes clear. Excessive vices will eventually derail your career. It’s great for a period. Take as many drugs as you like. Drink as much alcohol. But eventually the industry will turn its back on you, because your work, physical health and mental well being will suffer. It becomes unsociable. Untenable. And before you realise what’s happening, it’s over. All things in moderation is a good mantra. Stay conscious of your consumption. Before it’s too late and addiction comes along and gets the better of you. If you think you may have a problem already. Please follow these links.

7. Find Time to Work It Out.

With such a sedentary lifestyle, workouts are essential and there will often be a gym within driving distance of most studio locations. A daily 45 minute class of aerobic exercise such as Spinning, Body Fitness, Circuit Training or Kettlebells can wash away the anxiety of the day and lead to positive, inspirational states of mind. Helping solve problems, clearing writers block and changing perspective. Don’t be Macho about it. Sometimes classes aimed at a female crowd can be just as tough and demanding as male workouts. Pilates, Yoga. Even Zumba. It’s healthy, exhilarating and great social fun. Try anything!

8. Stay In. Work Out.

Yes, there’s no excuses. You can easily turn your studio space into a makeshift gym. All you need is a fitness mat, squats, star jumps, sit ups and (the dreaded) burpees. And hey, a staircase is the cheapest gym in the world. When you get a taste for studio workouts, you just won’t want to quit.
Get others to join in. (They won’t, but, y’know. Try anyhow.)

9. Bed Time is Head Time.

To keep thoughts in order and a good mental regime, it’s important to get a full night’s rest. This is so difficult to achieve in an industry fated with over running sessions and after hours jobs like comping, editing, post production and mastering. But there comes a time when you must prioritise your own well being and part of that is ensuring that your working hours are kept regular and uniform from day to day. With a healthy 8 hour kip, you’ll be ready for the next day’s nose to the grindstone and be more confident to face another bunch of demanding musicians.

10. And Relax.

So there are a few ideas of how to keep your mental and physical health on track while in the recording studio. There are lots more, of course! You could try avoiding caffeine altogether by drinking anti oxidants like Green Tea. You could take care of your spine, by improving your posture while sitting at the mixing desk. You could eat more fibre to improve cholesterol levels and digestion. And yes. It’s difficult, it’s hard going it’s bordering on impossible sometimes to do any of these things. But here’s hoping you’ll find one or two new ideas to stimulate and inspire you and improve your chances of having a long and happy career in that sometimes crazy, sometimes wonderful place. The recording studio.

Simon Power is a sound designer & composer for BBC’s Doctor Who audio dramas. He is signed to Banco De Gaia’s Disco Gecko record label and as Dream Valley Music he produces music cues for all types of visual media. He is recently a credited composer on the Emmy nominated Amazon Prime series, Conversations in LA.