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Silent Way Remote Audio Recording in The San Francisco Bay Area
Bringing a mobile recording studio to you and leaving the cost of running a studio behind
See Silent Way's extensive Client List, Discography and Venues.
Silent Way specializes in live remote multitrack recordings. Any budget can be accommodated. Silent Way is proud to have engineered recordings for over five hundred clients in over a hundred venues, resulting in over ninety noted releases since 1993.
Silent Way's long list of previous clients, list of venues, extensive engineering/production experience, and technical proficiency with a wide range of equipment assures that your recording will meet the utmost aural and musical standards. A wide variety of microphones, mic preamps, and outboard processing is available, from the rarest to the most cost-efficient. Silent Way brings only the technical options that you need for your project. This mobile and modular approach ensures that prices always match your budget.
Chief Engineer Tony Brooke's approach is to strip away anything that is not essential to the multitrack recording to create the most efficient system possible within your means. That way the budget can be used directly for the highest quality technical resources. In particular, the mics, mic preamps and analog-to-digital converters.
Silent Way's system flexibility and mobility is unmatched by any fixed recording studio or remote truck. When requested, esoteric mic preamps, classic microphones and high-end A/D converters are available when the budget allows. But if you don't want that, why should you pay for an overpriced truck full of equipment? Silent Way's scalable system brings the recording studio to you and leaves behind studio overhead expenses, so you don't pay a high rate (to cover an empty tracking studio's rent).
Located in San Francisco, Silent Way serves all of Northern California, including the greater Bay Area (Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, Marin) and Sacramento.
A few of the big decisions when planning a live/remote/mobile recording are the splitting method, the recording format and the mic preamps. Every quote includes a customized consultation to find the right system for your project. Here's a quick introduction to the basic terminology:
The first decision is how to get the signal to the recording system. The preferred system consists of an onstage isolated mic splitter for the cleanest signal. A much less agreeable alternative is to take a feed from the direct outputs of a Front Of House (FOH) mixer or a stage monitor mixer. This "direct out" method can have many bad consequences: EQ/Dynamics/Mutes being recorded, no gain control, noisy/clipping signal path, missing instruments, and inferior audio from mass-produced mic preamps. A mic splitter is better because it taps into the signal before it reaches any other equipment. That being said, if your budget requires a "Direct Out" recording, Silent Way can help you avoid as many pitfalls as possible. For more on this topic, see Tony Brooke's mic splitter introduction.
The next big decision is the recording format. Silent Way highly recommends using two simultaneous formats or a RAID array for a failsafe recording. Silent Way offers many hard drive and tape-based recording formats, but the best option is RADAR V.
RADAR V Nyquist by iZ Technologies records 24, 48, or more tracks of Broadcast WAV audio, at up to 24bit/96k onto a redundant RAID hard drive array. Available DAW file formats include broadcast wav, wav and sdII, at up to 24bit/192k. Available DAW session formats include Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Digital Performer, AAF and OMF. DTRS is available as 24 bit or 16 bit. Whichever recording format is used will be receiving signal from the best mic preamps, and it's all tied together with synchronized Panasonic DA7 24 bit digital mixers for monitoring "off tape." A uninterruptible battery backup power system is the final step for safety.
Silent Way also prefers Neumann microphones, Millennia Media Class-A, ATI and tube mic preamps when the budget allows.
The next step after a multitrack recording is the mixdown (to stereo or surround). Silent Way does not offer this service for a very good reason: there are literally hundreds of of specialized mix studios available in Northern California. Silent Way has excellent relations with all of them, and can refer you to many local mixing studios for mixdown services that match your budget and style.
A quick word on "hourly rates": For remote recordings, Silent Way usually charges a package rate rather than by-the-hour. Why? Onsite hours are just a tiny fraction of the time spent on each project, so hourly rates sound inaccurately high. Besides the hours spent onsite, each project entails many many hours on phone consultations, system architecture, equipment configuration, loading, drive time, load-in, load-out, post-production, file management, track sheets, delivery, technical support and billing. Delivery of the media to the client in particular is an extremely important logistical step. Silent Way takes great pride in detailed documentation, archival integrity and future-proofing media. All of this is included with every recording package.
It's easier and more fair to charge a package rate rather than an hourly rate. So instead of watching the clock and cutting corners, we're getting the job done.
For digital transfers and editing, Silent Way utilizes RADAR, Pro Tools or other 24 bit Macintosh-based digital audio workstations (DAW) optionally interfaced with a dedicated automated mixer. Recordings are digitally transferred at 24 bit. Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Digital Performer, OMF or AAF session files can be created.
Silent Way also offers audio archiving and collection management services and audio encoding, including conversions to mp3, bwav, wav, sdii, Flash, QuickTime and all other popular formats. Delivery via DVD-R or high bandwidth broadband ensures fast turnaround.
- A wide variety of additional gear (which you don't pay for if you don't need),
- An engineer experienced with every possible equipment configuration and recording methodology,
- Familiarity with the staff and equipment of every concert venue and studio in the Bay Area, plus a few elsewhere, and
- A deep tie with the local music scene and industry connections.
Bottom line: Your project will meet the utmost aural and musical standards.
Until a few years ago, recording a live show with recording studio quality was financially impossible and a logistical nightmare. New progress in the quality and size of recorders and digital mixers has made pristine-quality remote recording an affordable option, without expensive tractor-trailer sized mobile studios.
Silent Way's long list of clients and venues covers a myriad of musical styles and locations, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area (also in New Orleans and Los Angeles). Diverse, successful recordings made under extreme conditions are proof of readiness for any situation: From Alcatraz Island at midnight to a sweaty underground club in San Francisco; from polished opera hall to rat-infested New Orleans back alley - no location has been out of range. And of course, traditional recording studios are still a great location, if the budget allows. In fact, ANY space that sounds great is a potential location.
Producer/Engineer Tony Brooke has a unique approach:
"I use cutting edge techniques backed by a classic approach to the highest fidelity. I have extremely high standards for audio reproduction, a diverse background to support those standards, and am on the daily forefront of technological developments. However, I am not an equipment snob, nor am I interested in technology for its own sake. I believe that with the proper knowledge and a creative ear, the artist's muse can be fostered under any technological or financial circumstance."
For details on Tony's related experience with live broadcasting, recording studio management, radio DJ work and web/print publishing, see his bio/resume. On a personal level, his extensive and diverse musical experience is documented on separate personal web pages.