Expensive studio for less hours/better quality or budget studio for more time and ease

Hello all!

I am trying to justify my thoughts process, I guess, so I figured I’d ask question about it on here.

My band (traditional heavy metal) has gotten to the point where it is high time that we have a demo.
I can’t record anything more than 8 track so drums are definitely a no-no with my current setup.

Songs for the most part have been written and are solidified, I’ve also been grilling them in pre-production with my current 8 track recorder. The issues are still there, although I feel drums with punch-ins will probably work.

So right now I am looking at two options.

  1. Really good engineer and good studio that charges an arm and a leg in a top notch facility with tons of high end outboard AND/OR

  2. a chill dude that has OK setup, possibly these 2 options to be augmented by some of my engineering.

The band itself is OK.

Use expensive studio for mix and master, or mix at home, master at expensive studio, possibly even on a 2inch tape.


It depends on your budget I guess, and how you guys like to record. Do you want to record all together or one at a time?

If you can do it one at a time, drums are really the only thing that will give you a hard time with an 8 track limit and a small room. Guitars, bass and even vocals can be done with just a little bit of thought and preparation in a normal sized room.

If it were me (which you are not) I would track everything myself to a fake drum track, then take those and send the drummer to a real studio to retrack the drums. Then you don’t have to pay for studio time for the stuff you can easily do yourself, and focus the budget on the drums.

If the drums need lots of editing and you don’t want to do it because it’s the worst job in the world, there are about 100 kids on facebook that will do it for cheap. It’s not that hard of a job, it’s just tedious, especially if the drummer is sloppy. Same with guitar and bass.

Once you have everything tracked and edited, then you can decide if you have the budget to have someone else mix it, or the patience to do it yourself.


From what you’ve written, it sounds like recording will be difficult due to the varying levels of comfort with the band. Have you considered getting a live recording off the board and overdubbing from there? If it’s for a demo to get you live gigs, you could do a lot with a good recording of the rhythm section and filling in the blanks. That would save you a lot of money to get a foundation to work from without worrying about all the details up front.

It’s been many many years ago that I did this, but it did work for me. I put together a song in my home studio, then went to a pro studio to track the drums. I didn’t have an acoustic kit at that time anyway, so I tracked the song in the home studio with a drum machine, then took the tape to the pro studio (sans drum machine track) and used their drum set to play along to it while the house engineer recorded it for me. I put it all together back in the home studio and it turned out as well as I had expected.

Thanks for the suggestions. I actually did try to get the drummer to record over an already recorded guitar track and he can’t. It might be a better idea to record piecemeal and have his just track to my rhythm guitar, that might be a way to minimise the conflicting information getting to him.

I’ve thought about tracking each song a few times and taking the best drum performances in a composite track and going from there, even for a more live feel but the drummer actually wants a super edited production akin to Andy Sneap. I am thinking I’d just rather eat the cost of 5 way split for the studio fee and maybe after it crashes and burns, cooler heads might prevail. I definitely don’t want to engineer, especially bass parts and guitar parts that I can track in my sleep on one or two passes. Now that I am mentioning it, I probably don’t want to even be present for those overdubs.

What’s the demo for? And what don’t you like about the one you recorded with the 8-track live? To me it sounds like a good quality for a demo.

I’m a bit confused as to what your ultimate goal is…

You use the term “demo” here, which would suggest a recording with some corners cut just to produce a rough representation of your band…

But the way you’re describing the recording/editing/mixing process suggests you’re actually aiming at a full-blown top-notch production. I think you first need to clarify your expectations.

If just a high quality demo is what you want, I’m not sure that paying out for a high-dollar studio would be money well spent, especially if you’re not confident the band could get it together sufficiently to leave with tracks you are happy with.

However, it sounds to me like you don’t want to get involved in producing & editing the band’s performances, but wherever you decide to record, that seems like it will be a significant part of achieving a result you will be happy with… Either that, or replacing the sloppy performances entirely.

That said, reading your description of the band’s various abilities, I was expecting something worse than the sound of the recording you posted above. It’s certainly not a car crash, and the songwriting and arrangements are pretty good.

You’re right though, heavy direction of the performances from a producer and post-production editing are inevitable if you want to polish this to the standards people are used to hearing.

My suggestion would be to convince the drummer to record his drum performance with midi triggers and replace the drums entirely with samples from something like Superior Drummer. (An E-kit is a good alternative, but not all drummers are willing to play them).

That way, editing the drums is as easy as editing midi, and you don’t have to worry about getting a big $ room to get decent sounds. Once you get the edited drum tracks, they could form the basis overdubbing the rest of the parts.

You could do all this without ever having to set for in a studio - big $ or otherwise.

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save the $$$, maybe get the drummer some lessons

edit: okay i said that based on your comments without noticing u posted a track. Track doesnt sound that bad. I did hear a decent hiccup

Me personally I wouldnt spend and arm and a leg.

If you think yall will stay together, maybe start building your own recording setup.

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Well, “demos” for the most part nowadays are what records were in the 80s, if not even better sonically.

It will be something that we’ll sell, so that means we’ll recoup $20 from the budget :slight_smile:
The band committed to 2 days studio time, apparently most of the $ will be financed from the singer and drummer, so we’ll see what comes out.

The guys got really excited seeing a real studio, which to me was actually a bit underwhelming compared to some of the others I’ve worked in, but they have a good sounding drum room so that is probably the most important part :slight_smile:

I don’t want midi drums, we have 2 kits but actually we want an organic record. Punchy yes, but not fake.

We’ll have 2 months to grill on pre-production (clicks) so that is what we’ll start with. Hopefully it will be enough and 20 hrs of studio time should suffice for 4 songs.

@Christina for one we are getting radio play with this and it needs a bit more polish, and better drum sound/detail on drums. Vocals could use better quality gear and some tuning, guitars could use a bit more depth with multimic setup.

That’s kinda what I suspected.

Wise move - the pre-production is key, because the final result will probably be dependent on the weakest link in the chain not letting the side down. It might be worth multi-track recording the pre-production if possible, so that individual players can hear their individual parts solod out - great for identifying weaknesses and working on them.

The way I see it is: Unless you have someone absolutely personally invested in pushing the production to the best it can be, and who is willing to put in the time to make that happen in post-production, then it’s possible the time spent could yield a disappointing. Since most studios for hire focus simply capturing sound, I can’t see that investment coming from the studio’s in-house engineer, so maybe someone with some recording/production nous needs to step up to the plate… sounds like you might be it! :grinning:

It definitely could work if the drummer can handle all the pressure being on him and deliver solid basic tracks…

Fair enough, I understand the reticence, but I maintain that “Organic” and “Midi” don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Virtually every modern production employs some sort of drum augmentation / replacement, even when great sounding studios are used.

A few years ago, I recorded an indie rock band in their rehearsal space using an E-kit triggering Superior Drummer. We recorded all the basic tracks with the band playing live takes and then overdubbed vocals, harmonies and extra bits later. It came out sounding pretty organic, because it was real people playing with each other in a room.

Here are a couple of those tracks:

In any case - all the best with your plans - I hope it goes well and you get a great result!

@ColdRoomStudio the drums you posted work for the genre.

I did a few songs with edrums, here’s one of them:

I find that the faster you play the worse it gets :slight_smile:

Unlike live drums, these were a b^tch to mix, had to resort to all kinds of tricks, multiband compression and and a tube emulation in parallel seemed to fix some of it.

Drum replacement in post, I do some of that but I don’t want to kill the dynamics completely, so maybe some augmentation in mixing but I am looking to get the main drum sound at the room.

The link you posted requires that I request a download or something. Is there any other way we can hear the song?

Sorry @boz, posted it only on my ftp server as dload temporarily, to be able to delete later.