Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Please read through this list to see if your questions have been answered here before contacting us. If your questions are not answered in this list, please contact us via e-mail or phone through the Contact link.

  1. Why should I use your studio? Can't I just do this myself?
  2. Can I record the raw tracks at your studio and then take them elsewhere for mixing or addtional recording?
  3. What media format/s do you support?
  4. Do you have instruments available (drums, guitar, bass, piano, etc.) that I can play in the studio?
  5. Can I record an album using pre-recorded backing tracks?
  6. I am a singer/songwriter, but I don't play an instrument. Can you record the music for a song that I have written?
  7. What is MIDI?
  8. What is VST?
  9. What is Mastering?
  10. Where does the name "Silent Sky" come from?
  11. What is the difference between CD Replication and CD Duplication?
  12. Do you offer CD Replication/Duplication?

Q: Why should I use your studio? Can't I just do this myself?

That's a perfectly legitimate question. But consider this--would you say that to your contractor when building a new home? Or to your auto mechanic when you're having engine problems? Of course, these are skills that we could technically learn to do ourselves, but the reason you pay a professional to do it is because they've invested the time and energy to learn and master their craft, and they have the tools and the skills that are needed to provide you with a professional-quality result. You can trust that they will not only get the job done, but do it right the first time. And while it's true that advances in home recording technology have made it more affordable than ever to create your own recordings at home, you should also consider the following questions if you're thinking of recording your own CD:

  • Do I have a suitable space in my home that will have adequate room, good acoustics, block out unwanted background noise, and keep in any noise that will annoy my neighbors?
  • Do I own all of the equipment that I really need to properly record, mix, and master my songs?
  • Is my equipment capable of delivering a professional quality sound?
  • Do I have the expertise to use my equipment to get the best possible sound out of it?
  • Can I record enough simultaneous tracks to record a full drum kit and/or band at one time?
  • When I'm recording a song, do I really want to worry with the technical details of connecting the equipment, setting up mics and stands, setting levels, troubleshooting any problems, etc., or would I rather focus on delivering my best possible performance, leaving the technical details to a skilled engineer?

After thoughtfully considering these questions, I think that you'll find that it's definitely worthwhile to use a studio like Silent Sky for your recording project. For further reading on this subject, check out the article "Home Studios are Killing Music" by Producer/Engineer Ronan Chris Murphy.

Let me finish by saying that I don't want to discourage the idea of home recording studios. I think recording your own demos at home is a great idea. It helps you to develop your skills as a songwriter, and gives you a sandbox to experiment with your songs and try different ideas that aren't necessarily set in stone. But when you feel that your songs are ready for commercial release on CD, it's time to get serious and pay a visit to a real studio.

Q: Can I record the raw tracks at your studio and then take them elsewhere for mixing or addtional recording?

Yes. When we record your project, each track is recorded to a separate Wav file that can be exported individually. You could then take those Wav files and import them into the software of your choosing (or take them to another studio) for mixing or recording additional tracks. As the artist, your master recordings belong to YOU, and you should feel free to do with them as you please.

Q: What media format/s do you support?

Silent Sky is a computer-based digital studio. All tracks are recorded to a dedicated hard drive in the studio's computer. When mixing and mastering, we work with standard 24 or 16-bit, 44.1kHz Wav files. We can burn your raw, mixed, or mastered tracks to a DVD or CD as Wav files, CDA (standard Audio CD tracks), or MP3's.

Q: Do you have instruments available (drums, guitar, bass, piano, etc.) that I can play in the studio?

I'll begin with a word of caution: a very practical implication of using someone else's equipment is that you simply may not like the tone that you're able to get out of the particular guitar, bass, drum kit, amp, etc. So, to make things easier on everyone, please try to bring all of your own instruments and related equipment to the recording session if possible.

In cases where you cannot provide you own instruments, for drummers we do have a couple of pro-quality drum kits in-house that you can use if needed. However, you will still need to bring the following items of your own:

  • Cymbals - because Cymbals can be so easily cracked or broken by heavy hitters, please BRING YOUR OWN.
  • Bass Drum Pedal - optional, but drummers tend to get very accustomed to the feel, tension, beater travel, etc. of their own pedal, so it's probably a good idea to bring your own.
  • Hi-Hat Stand - optional, but is recommended for the same reasons listed above for the Bass Drum Pedal.
  • Snare Drum - optional, but many drummers prefer to use their own Snare because it's such a signature part of their sound.

For guitar and bass players, I do have access to a few guitars and basses, and I can also arrange to provide a bass and/or guitar amp if it's needed. However, if you plan to use one the house guitars/basses/amps, you should contact me well in advance to check their availability, and to be sure that you'll be satisified with the instruments that I can provide.

For piano/keyboard players, I have a Casio Privia PX-400R digital piano that you can use if needed. It has fully-weighted keys and a full 88-key keyboard.

Please be aware that if you choose to use any house instruments or amps, you will be held liable for any damages incurred during their use. This includes broken drum heads, guitar strings, scratches, dents, dings, etc.

Q: Can I record an album using pre-recorded backing tracks?

It is generally okay to record yourself singing to pre-recorded/karaoke backing tracks, provided that the recording is for personal use only. However, if you intend to sell the recording for profit, or otherwise distribute it to the public (as a free download on your website, etc.), you must get permission from the copyright holder, or obtain a mechanical license. Many companies that produce backing tracks already have a licensing policy in place for singers who want to record using their pre-recorded tracks. You will simply need to contact the specific company to find out about their individual policy.

You may also consider using a third-party such as Limelight by Rightsflow, which provides Song Clearance services for a nominal fee. With Limelight, you simply fill out an online form providing information about the song/s that you are including on your album, the number and type of units (physical CD's, digital downloads, etc.) that you will be distributing, and pay the fee. Limelight will reply with your licensing information, and they will ensure that the copyright holder receives any royalties that they are due. Limelight really removes the headache from keeping everything legal, and getting the proper licensing for using other artists' songs.

Be sure to visit our Packages Page for more details about Vocal Only/Karaoke Recordings.

Q: I am a singer, but I don't play an instrument (or don't have a full backing band). Can you record the music for a song that I have written?

Yes, I can provide studio musicians for your recording project. I personally play the drums, and have contacts with many musicians who would be willing to play on your recording. However, any additional musicians who perform on your song will require an additional fee per player per song. Specific prices are available upon request, depending upon your needs.

If you do plan to use studio musicians, it's a good idea to at least give them a rough demo (even if it's a simple cassette recording of you singing and/or playing) so they can listen to and learn the song in advance. This will save valuable time (and money) in the studio.

Another option in cases such as this would be to use MIDI tracks to replicate either specific instruments (drums, bass, etc.) or all of the instruments on the recording. MIDI uses VST Instruments to create very authentic-sounding recordings, and is often used on many professional recordings today. For more details about MIDI & VST, see "What is MIDI?" and "What is VST?", below.

Q: What is MIDI?

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI is a recording industry standard protocol that has been widely used since the early 1980's. It's basically a form of electronic communication between MIDI instrument controllers (usually a keyboard) and a computer or other MIDI-compatible devices. In a nutshell, it allows you to record a musical performance, but only records the notes that were played, the duration that the notes were held, the velocity with which the notes were played, etc. MIDI does not actually record any audio. Therefore, after recording a MIDI passage, you can totally change the sound of the performance by simply choosing a different instrument in your recording software. For more details, read this article about MIDI.

Q: What is VST?

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. VST is a technology developed by Steinberg (the developers of Cubase) for integrating software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with computer-based audio editors and hard-disk recording systems. VST uses Digital Signal Processing (via a computer's CPU) to simulate traditional recording studio hardware with software. VST technology is utilized in software applications via VST plugins. A "VST plugin" is simply a software program that simulates a particular hardware device, such as an EQ, Compressor, Reverb, etc. There are also many VSTi's (VST Instruments) that can very realistically simulate specific musical instruments (piano, synthesizer, guitar, bass, drums, etc.). For more details, read this article about VST.

Q: What is Mastering?

Mastering is the process of putting the finishing touches on an already-mixed stereo recording. As with mixing, this may involve the use of EQ and dynamics processing (Compression and Limiting), but usually the application of these devices in the Mastering stage is much more subtle. The use of dynamics processing in the Mastering stage also brings the loudness of the songs to a professional level, and matches the levels of each of the songs relative to one another. This helps to make the songs on an album sound like one cohesive collection rather than a group of separate songs that have been compiled together on a single album. Finally, Mastering also may involve setting Fade-ins and Fade-outs at the beginning and ending of the songs, setting the proper gap length between songs, and determining the final sequence of the songs on the CD. When the Mastering stage is complete, the recording should be ready for duplication.

For more information about our Mastering services, check out the Mastering page.

Q: Where does the name "Silent Sky" come from?

"Silent Sky" is the name of one of my former bands that I played with. We took that name from the lyrics in the song "Another Day", by the band Dream Theater.

Q: What is the difference between CD Replication and CD Duplication?

CD Duplication uses a CD-R or CD-RW Drive with Write capabilities to simply burn duplicate copies of an original master CD onto blank CD-R disks. If you were to burn a copy of a CD using your home computer, that would be an example of CD Duplication. Duplication is usually the most affordable alternative when dealing with small-volume orders of less than 1,000 disks. A few years ago, many consumer CD players would not read a duplicated CD, but with the increased popularity of CD burners and their inclusion in most home computers, this is no longer true. Today, most consumer CD players will read duplicated disks with no trouble.

CD Replication is a manufacturing process where a "glass master" disk is created from the original, and then a set of molds are created from that master. Copies are then "cloned", or replicated from the molds using injection-mold equipment. In other words, data isn't just burned onto pre-existing disks like in the duplication process--the plastic disks with the audio data are literally created "from scratch". After being created, the disks are coated with a reflective layer of aluminum, coated with a clear protective layer, and hardened by ultraviolet light. Because replication is a much more involved process, it's more expensive than duplication when it comes to small-volume orders. However, when dealing with larger volume orders, the price-per-disk for replication is actually less than duplication. Replication also provides the highest level of readability for your disks, even if you're playing the disk on a much older CD player.

Q: Do you offer CD Replication/Duplication?

No, we do not offer CD Replication/Duplication in-house, but we can provide assistance with any aspect of preparing your CD order for whomever you choose to duplicate/replicate your CD's.

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