Music Recording/Mixing Studio
A unique new studio in Amsterdam that can provide the sound the artist is looking for with equipment ranging from the early 50s up to state of the art modern gear. That combined with very competent staff and a creative environment will let our artists get the sound and quality they desire.
Hal 5 is a brand new studio that opened its doors in 2017.
It is a medium to large sized studio. Consisting of a massive control room, a 6 Meter high main live room, a dark sounding spacious booth, an artist lounge, production suite and development lab.
The control room is filled with a huge variety of gear which gives engineers and producers access to a wide variety of flavours ranging from the greats such as SSL, Neve, API, Universal Audio, TAB and Siemens, all the way to lesser more exotic tools such as Distressors, Unfairchild, BX10, Vacuvoxes and many others.
Our live rooms have an astonishing collection of microphones which include but are not limited to original Neumann U47s, Coles ribbon mics and C414 stereo matched sets. Apart from the audio tools you will also find a wonderfull selection of amplifiers next to the in-house hammond-leslie combo, a soulful upright piano and a nice collection of guitars and basses.
The staff is a strong collective of various engineers, each with their own specialties and unique skill sets.
We offer you the chance to help us find your sound using our collective knowledge and resources so that you can focus on your performance knowing that the studio is taking care of everything else that is needed to get your record done properly.
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Interview with HAL5 Studio
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: We find people that swear by one or the other both to be shortsighted and stuck in a pattern. Many of our colleagues have spend hours on ABing the plug in of some EQ with the real deal. Half of the time they fail the blind tests and even if they do make the distinction, one did not sound better than the other, just slightly different. Now we are not stating that they are the same, just that both can be equally amazing and equally terrible depending on the build quality and most importantly the person using it. Analog can sound amazing and has a much more hands on workflow that resonates really well with some engineers. However recall is an issue and you can only use one instance of every unit for every given project. Digital can sound amazing and can be saved and stored very easily. However the interfaces are often not inviting without a good control surface and software crashes and other IT problems can sometimes severely hinder workflow. What matter most to us is variety and workflow.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I would say that it is the variety of the work that comes through our doors. We have recorded multiple genres already including metal, Chinese traditional instruments, jazz groups and multiple 30 second radio advertisement jingles among many others. Every project is special to us and pushes our engineers to think about how best to serve our clients.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Well the first thing when people hear that you’re an audio engineer is that you’re a DJ! Of course, once you explain to them what an audio engineer actually does, they still have a rather puzzled look on their faces. Once explained, I would say its’ one part alchemy and one part art. The alchemy angle is that you’re using all of these “scientific” tools to turn a work into gold. The art angle is making it sound absolutely professional, commercial and what our clients are looking for soundwise. We had one client that was keen on seeing the process thinking it was a few hours work at most, he was most surprised to see the hours applied to pre-production, editing, comping (from multiple takes), time-aligning and then the start of the actual mix process. The client remarked “I had no idea there is an actual unseen artist/scientist” behind a performing artist”. Having good tools is one (very critical) thing, but knowing how to use them and dedicating time to learning how to use them to their highest potential is something else as is having a creative mind – most legendary albums could not have been made without a creative mind to make it sound as amazing as they are.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: We are setting up a VR audio lab to try and explore a new avenue of music and sound production.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: To find the sound that they are looking for that already exists in their minds and getting that out to the record.
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Looking at a professional his or her credits can be important but also it is difficult to tell what their influence was when it comes to the engineer. Maybe he/she mixed it but did not do the recording or vice versa. Another possibility is that the mastering stage went to far and all the previous hard work on a project is now undone. At the end of the day feeling excited to be in a certain environment and feeling a good, professional but also inspiring connection with your producer and/or engineer is worth a lot more than the fact they they own that one mic that was used by elvis or they were an assistant engineer some U2 session. At least that is our take on it.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: A deserted island? Well let's start with a solar power generator I guess... Second would be our coffee machine without a doubt. Jokes aside, a few pieces we are very fond of are the vacuvox compressors from which we own one of the 11 stereo pairs in the world. The unfairchild is used in many different stages of production. Our original early series U47 from 52 is used on half the recordings we do. Funny enough one of the most used rack gear we own is the Ursa Major Stargate. It is such a soulfull nice vintage digital reverb. And the original Siemens pre and EQ vintage rack is also something we find ourselves depending on during many sessions.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: There is no golden combination of equipment for the perfect vocal/snare/guitar sound. We for example often get asked "what is a good vocal mic?" The truth is that all 40+ mics in our collection were at some point used as the "perfect" vocal mic. A much better question would be "What is a good vocal mic for a male low soulful voice that needs to sound like the early 60s?" However as much as we take pride in our studio design and collection of equipment. What a lot of studios these days seem to forget is that performance > gear. The atmosphere and vibe during a session can have double if not more the impact on the final product rather than the mic choice. Make sure both sides are taken care of when you produce a record.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: So far we have worked on a very wide range of productions. Death Metal, Jazz, Rock, Traditional world music, Hip Hop, DnB, Electronic, Pop and even a few christmas hit ;) Most of our engineers are able to adapt to a variety of projects.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Being able to adapt for any project of any style due to our collective engineering team and getting people psyched to be in our studio environment.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Everything but the performance and composition.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: We like to invite clients/artists to the studio for a tour before they choose to work with us. It is very important for them to feel a connection with the studio and be comfy in the environment where they will perform. When they agree to choose us as their studio of choice we assign the best engineer available for the job that in turn will go into pre production with the artist/producer. It is of vital importance that we gain an understanding of what it is that they want to convey with their project and what vibe/sound they are actually looking for. The engineer then plans the dates and times for the recording and starts building his or her recording plan in order to obtain the best possible result. During the session we make sure that there are assistants taking care of the artists whilst the head engineers are setting up in the live rooms. At the end of the recording the client either takes neatly organised audio multi track sessions home or arranged a follow up appointment in order to start the editing and mixing process. There are however many different work flows possible and each project requires something different. Which is in fact what like so much about our work at HAL5.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Our setup is a combination of 3 years of construction and 5 engineers bringing in their vast collection of equipment into one space. This enables us to be very flexible with combining different sound tools to fine tune the needs of our clients. Though the studio could be seen as fully analog apart from the recorder, we actually customised our console's flying faders to act as a in the box studio controller in case we have clients that wish to continue their session at a later time. We basically have the best of both worlds, the beauty of analog and the ease of digital.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Between all of us we have many different heroes in the field.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: The studio is best suited for recording engineering and mixing. Though we also get plenty of mastering, production, editing and other various audio related requests due to the hardware collection and in house staff.