POINT STUDIOS
MUSIC PRODUCTION

By Michael Daniel, Phoenix, AZ
Recording, Mixing and Producing.
Major Label Sound
At An Affordable Price.
Everything Needed To Make Hits.
Point Studios logo
Michael Daniel
602-414-9822

Production Methods

One of the most helpful things a producer can do for you is plan your sessions efficiently. As a producer, I can help you maximize the outcome the recording project as a whole, including the creative direction and the business aspects. Also, I can help you greatly enhance the quality of your project because I can be an objective partner.

I can translate your artistic vision into reality. What I would ask of you is to list some of your favorite records. I would make sure we agree on the artistic values and direction of the project. I can help you meld your influences into a coherent, professional, and marketable recording.

The recording process normally involves:

  • Pre-production
  • Tracking basic tracks
  • Tracking overdubs
  • Mixing
  • Mastering
  • Duplication

The Song Chain

I think of a 'song chain's the primary components that go into an excellent recording. I've found a remarkable consistency in the 'song chain' used in top studios.

Songs

Good, fully developed songs come before everything else. I am an expert songwriter, and I can help you solve any problems with your lyrics, harmony, melody or rhythm. I can also help you make your songs excellent, and hit worthy.

Instrument/singer

Usually, excellent recordings can only be made when performers are confident, comfortable and well prepared. I am also a top-notch guitar and vocal coach, and can help you perform at your best.

Room

Isolation rooms are usually 'dead' sounding rooms treated with professional sound treatments.

I use Sonex acoustical foam and Acoustic First bass traps.

Microphone

I have a selection of classic mics suitable for any recording situation.

Mic preamp

The mic preamp will give a recording its generally sound and character. The preamp most commonly used on hit records in the last 40 years is the Neve 1073 preamp found in the legendary Neve consoles. This is a class 'A', discrete preamp that sounds great for all styles of music. Outdated Neve consoles were sometimes parted out, and the components were sold separately as rack-mounted modules. Individually, these preamps sell for around $3000. Vintage Neve preamps have the disadvantage of being relatively old, and therefore, increasingly unreliable. I use an exact Neve recreation made by audio guru Brent Averill that has the advantage of being new, and therefore, more reliable. I also use Focusrite ISA110, and Manley tube preamps. These have also been used on countless hit records. If it does not sound good through one of these preamps, then there is a problem at the source.

Compressor

The two most commonly used compressors on hit records are the Teletronics/ Universal Audio LA2a, Urei/Universal Audio 1176. Both sound good on vocals and instruments. I use an 1176 and a Tube Tech CL1a, which is a more upscale version of the LA2A. A mix buss compressor provides the audio glue that sounds like a record. I have an amazing sounding SSL mixbuss compressor that has been used on about every hit record since 1981.

Recorder or digital converter

The industry-standard analog tape recorder is the Studer A80 series. These are still used on many hit records. These are typically not used in 'Pro Tools suites' because these rooms usually use digital-based recording. One added cost of analog-based recording is the cost of analog tape. Another is the session time taken up by the tape transport searching for the right place in the recording. This can take up to 25% of your session time. The industry standard converters and digital clocks are made by Apogee. I use an Apogee AD16x and DA16x.

Effects processing

For signal processing, I prefer hardware devices. They provide a much more professional sound than plug-ins. I have a selection of classic effects processors by Lexicon, Eventide, Yamaha, and Roland that get the job done in an inspiring and professional way.

Mixing

For mixing, editing and other effects, I use the industry-standard Avid Pro Tools HD software. I also used the industry-standard Waves plug-ins when needed. I prefer to use plug-ins very sparingly because they tend to turn audio to mush.

Mastering processing

A mastering compressor and equalizer are typically used to give a record that magical sheen. While I am not specifically a mastering facility, I can master recordings to be very close in quality to a high end mastering facility. I use Crane Song mastering processors that have defined the sound of popular music since 1998. I love my Crane Song STC and IBIS for this purpose. 

Duplication

I can recommend short order and long order duplication facilities.

Listeners' ears

I have accurately transcribed thousands of songs for guitar, voice and bass. That is a tremendous ear training exercise that has given me a uniquely sharp ear for music. I hear everything in music. I am confident that my mixes will translate to any playback environment.

Performance Coaching Skills

The biggest secret that I've discovered in all my musical experiences is that a solid grasp of fundamentals is critical. We all have a certain amount of 'musical RAM', or the amount of simultaneous musical events we can process. Shortcomings in fundamentals devastate your musical performance by taxing your 'musical RAM'. These also make it much harder, if not impossible, to focus on the emotional content of the performance. I've developed innovative methods to help guitarists and vocalists reach their full potential. If you are a musician, I can help you overcome any limitations in your performance skills.

I've transcribed and notated over 4,000 songs for vocal and guitar over the years. If you are in need of guitar playing on your recordings, I can record professional guitar and bass tracks in any style of music.

I can help you with vocal performance with my innovative song coaching method. There are probably a billion people in the world that can sing a simple musical scale or vocal exercise. However, this is not the only skill necessary to deliver a professional recorded vocal performance. In studying and transcribing songs over the years, I've discovered there are certain components that go into a good vocal performance.

I've found practicing these components in this order to be a powerful tool to maximize the full potential of a vocal.

Components of a great vocal performance

 

-Accurate lyrics
-Timing
-Accents
-Slurs

-Broken words
-Melody

-Staying on pitch

-Embellishments

     -Glissando
     -Melisma
     -Vibrato
-Dynamics
-Tone
-Memorized lyric
-Emotion/soul
-Style
I believe there are less than 1 million singers in the world able to consistently deliver all of these components. If they have the necessary persistence, we eventually come to call these singers 'stars'. Some singers do have an intuitive feel for these components, but these can also be learned. If just one of these components is missing, the recorded vocal will not sound good. Of course, the single most important component of a good recording is a good vocal. In fact, the best backing tracks are worthless without a good vocal. If you desire for a career as a musical performer, the most crucial component is the ability to deliver emotion through the recording to the listener. This is the 'IT' factor of music. Delivering emotionally is not possible if all the other components are not being performed on a subconscious level. I can help you if you are lacking any in any of these areas.

Philosophy

The music industry depends on the hit song, hit record, or hit album. A hit excites and connects with many people. Most music fans like hit records, though all define 'hit' differently. In my experience, I've found there are definitive components that go into a hit recording. I can help provide all of these for you. The biggest secret that I've discovered in all of my musical experiences is that a solid grasp of fundamentals is critical.

First, what a listener hears in a recording is directly the result of the recording's signal chain. If something isn't in the signal chain, no one can hear it. This signal chain is typically:

-Instrument/singer >
-Acoustical space >
-Microphone >

-C
able >
-Microphone preamp
-C
able >
-Compressor>

-C
able>
-Analog recorder or digital converter>
-Cable>
-Effects processing>
-C
able>
-Mastering processing>
-Duplication>
-Listeners' ears

The biggest costs for most studios are the cost of a big console, and the cost of creating the space and isolation needed to record live drums. This cost is passed on to the musicians. Most of this expense is wasted in most sessions because, typically, only one instrument is recorded at a time in an isolation booth. I believe it's silly to rent a studio for $125/hr to use one channel of a recording console and an isolation booth. Many big studios with multiple facilities understand this and have a 'Pro Tools/voice over/overdub' room. These typically have the equipment necessary to obtain a first rate signal chain, but have no live room or big console.

Conversely, the equipment strategy of most local demo or budget studios is to acquire the equipment and space necessary to record a live band all at one time. However, they commonly have to make major compromises in the signal chain quality to save money. This is a quantity over quality philosophy, and it often has disappointing results.

My engineering philosophy is not to focus on how many tracks I can record at one time, but to obtain the finest signal chain while recording one instrument. I researched the gear used in 'Pro Tools/voice over/overdub' rooms in the most successful studios in the world. These studios are where many of my favorite (and probably also your favorite) records were recorded.

While I do not have a live drum room, I use the Toontrack Superior Drummer
systems for drum sounds. These are extremely realistic, state-of-the-art drum samples. Some of the world's most successful producers use Superior drums for their sessions, even though they could use an acoustic kit. Combined with an expert use of Pro Tools drum sequencing, most listeners are not going to be able to tell the difference from a recording with acoustic drums. If you must use acoustic drums, those tracks can later be added at another full-sized studio. This approach would still realize a big cost savings. Of course, a true 'electronic' drum sound is easily achievable.

Abbey Road Studios

Air Studios

Bearsville Studios

Electric Ladyland Studios

Mix This Studios/
Bob Clearmountain

Olympic Studios

Real World Studios

Record Plant Studios

Windmill Lane Recording Studio

How I Can Make You Confident

In my experiences, I've found that confidence comes with solid grasp of fundamentals, artistic awareness, and knowledge of how to prepare for a performance. I'll bring 20 years of experience and musical mastery to your project. Most importantly, I care. I will not take on a project that I do not care about as I would my own music.

How I Can Make You Comfortable

I've recorded as a musician in many studios. A studio environment has a strong tendency to be cold and clinical. That vibe is rarely conducive to making the best music. Relatively speaking, I believe in creating an environment that is all about music.

-No clock watching.
-I have a contemporary, inspiring 'lounge' and patio with cable TV, VCR, DVD and, of course, Sony Playstation.
-You are welcome to prepare food in my fully equipped in-home kitchen. Take-out and delivery menus are also available.
-I always maintain a positive, pleasant and respectful attitude towards clients.

In total, I think you'll find the comfortable surroundings, relaxed atmosphere, and caring professionalism found in Point Studios makes it a rewarding place to work. You'll find yourself wanting to return for your next project. You will sound better than you ever have!

Point Studios waiting area

Indoor 'lounge' of Point Studios.

outdoor lounge of Point Studios

Outdoor 'lounge' of Point Studios.

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Michael Daniel

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Last modified: July 31, 2017