Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mark Mancini, Anthony Maragni, Don Bracken @ LSRR

Busy here yesterday. Co-producer Mark Mancini (L) spent the afternoon getting the Anthony Maragni (C) recordings into mix mode with us, then Mark tracked evening piano parts on the  Hazelton Brothers baby grand for a Don (R) and Rachel Bracken song.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Putting up gear racks in the big live room

These will house preamps, DI's, tuners, headphone monitor processing, and other stuff guitarists, bassists, singers, soloists, and key board players would want. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

1920 Hazelton Bros. Blonde Baby Grand Piano @LSRR

On the first floor, in the front parlor.
Close stereo microphone setup for recording.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rates, Policies, FAQ, Guidance


The Lantern Sound Recording Rig requires a 50% deposit for booking studio time. Balance of payment owed is due at the end of that day's work. If an artist or client has a balance due, the LSRR reserves the right to deny subsequent bookings for studio time until said balance is paid. For any recording project, no content, session files, or mixes of any kind will be released until all balances are paid, and accounts are made current.

RECORDING RATES (Includes Engineer)

Rates are for tracking, engineering, mixing and musical instrumentation, production & input.

HOURLY RATE: $55 per hour

A session at the Lantern Sound Recording Rig (LSRR) begins billing at the time the client booked it for, whether the client is present or not, and continues until the final load-out. Consecutive studio day rate rentals (not hourly) are mandatory if gear or mixes are to be left set up overnight. Payment is due at the end of the session, in cash. All mixes, CD-Rs, hard drives, etc. shall remain the property of LSRR until all invoices are paid in full.

DAILY RATE: $500 per day

Daily rate (12 hour day) includes an optional "load-in and setup night" previous to the day actually being booked, focused on getting as much setup and checked as possible, with an emphasis upon drum setup and sound.


“Faders up” rough mixes for performance evaluation are always furnished at no additional cost in MP3 format, distributed via Dropbox. We generally do not burn CD’s until we are reviewing actual finished, or near-finished mixes, in AIFF format.


Mixing services are offered to all artists at a fixed rate per track. If the artist wishes to be present for the mix session, hourly rates apply, instead. That will almost always be a more expensive option.

Generally, the per-song mixing rates involve me getting the mix VERY close to finished, after which the artist comes in and we review subjective concerns, visions and focus on the artist's needs and wishes. Since the mix is already close at the point the artist arrives, it makes for quicker, and more inexpensive. This is a highly recommended method.

For remote review and approval of mixes, we send AIFF/16-bit (CD Quality) formatted digital files to the artist, and we can burn CD discs for review. We do NOT employ lossy formats (such as AAC or MP3 format in ANY resolution) for mix evaluation. Final Mixes will be delivered to the artist via highest-resolution file transfer. Alternately, unmixed data files / stems can be supplied for the artist to arrange mixing and mastering at their own discretion.
  • SINGER-SONGWRITER MIX - $55 Per Track For simply arranged pieces, such as vocal, guitar, some additional accompaniment, perhaps percussion.

  • FULL BAND MIX - $150 Per Track For full-band arrangements (either real drums OR drum loops/’samples), typically guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, lead and background vocals. Projects that began as Singer Songwriter mixes that turn into Full-Band arrangements will be mixed and billed as Full-Band Mixes.

    This rate is based on three hours of work per song mix. It always winds up being more than three hours of work, especially since I'm doing a lot of prep work, EQ-ing, processing, routing of effects, editing, organizing, and bouncing/reducing tasks way before the artist arrives.

    If the artist wishes to mix one of these ways, these additional charges apply:
    • I mix, you watch -  $100.00
    • I mix, you help - $200.00
    • You mix, I watch - $300.00
    • You mix, I help - $400.00
    • You mix - $500.00



Can you also master my songs for digital distribution and CD replication?

Sure. I have always used professional mastering houses, I've never mastered records before - but I'll just go ahead and say that I can master your songs using software that every other inexperienced "mastering engineer" has. It will take longer, I can't output DDP files for the pressing plant, there will be re-do's. guaranteed, and I charge $75 per song to do this.

OR... you could go to a REAL mastering house with decades of experience and Grammy Awards on the wall, pay about $30 a song, and for a little more money get a DDP master file done that's ready to send to the pressing plant.

So, the short answer is, no.

(Longer answer: In an emergency, such as when time has completely run out... yes, but we hate doing this, mostly because we are NOT a mastering house. By the way, most recording studios / engineers that say they are mastering enities... are lying to you. They are just trying to make more money off you. And don’t fall for the “mastering online” sales pitch, either.

You want an experienced, established, and reputable mastering entity to ready your labor of love for the pressing plant and digital distribution. We can recommend mastering studios. Here’s why you want an additional set of experienced ears working on your project in a dedicated mastering studio.

We do full mastering pre-flight routine (level / artifacts / format double-checks, proper song order & titles, gap-between-songs specs, and final “dry run” through Waveburner software for a final TRIPLE check of files), and that is included as a final phase of the mixing process, but... the LSRR is not, repeat, NOT a mastering house.

Can we all play live in the studio?

Yes. That is often one of our main goals; it is to be encouraged. Live tracks with acoustic guitars is possible; remember that if you are singing a foot away from your guitar that the mic on the guitar will pick up your voice as well, and that recording acoustic guitar in the same room as a loud drum set is difficult. Acoustic guitar basic tracks often have to be replaced by overdubbing them later. But not necessarily.
Playing live in the studio will yield the best results when it’s done by a band that has gigged, performed, and rehearsed itself nearly to death. If a band is being thrown together just before the recording session, don’t expect things to go quickly unless each and every one of the players are seasoned professionals. Even then, it takes TIME, more than you think, to learn, arrange, and then perform/record songs in the studio, as opposed to beforehand.

How long will it take to record my music?

The answer to that question varies from artist to artist. It depends largely on YOUR degree of preparation. A well-rehearsed band can print most of the BASIC tracks (meaning, everyone performing, first-pass takes) for a full-length album in three days. The more prepared the artist is, the less time things will take. Overdubs can take anywhere from one to seven days or more, depending on the amount of work and pickiness.

For mixing, three to four hours per song at least is the general rule. A guitarist-singer who has their tunes down can track hours of live stuff in one day, mix it all the same day and have a decent live demo. Depends what you are looking for. Some projects go faster, some slower. Always add time to your estimates. One important component in this whole equation: Pre-Production.


The biggest mistake musicians make when entering the recording studio is failing to bring songs that have been carefully written, arranged, improved, and performed over time.

Play songs at shows; get feedback from anyone who will listen. If you record the song on any stereo device you can, whether it be a laptop computer, an iPhone, or even a cassette recorder, you will be able to listen, step back a bit and gain a different perspective. Then make changes based on that demo. Repeat the process. Yes, again.

As is written in this overview at Ultimate Guitar Dot Com, you often need to “Hone It Till You Hate It”. This process is also known as pre-production. The four most important points of pre-production are Song Selection, Keys, Tempos, Arrangements.

If you wait until you’re in the studio to think of these things, you are at a disadvantage; your recording will take longer, and cost more money, than you have planned.

Here’s a great overview on Pre-Production from DiscMakers Pressing.



Heavily involved in your project, a producer will possibly attend shows and rehearsals, work on arrangements, check your equipment, recommend outside musicians, decide what songs to record, and schedule sessions. They will see your project through completion, and help you get the best takes. A producer doesn't have to be an engineer, and you may see sessions where a producer and engineer work together. A producer will be calling the shots and raising the quality of the album project. If you have never produced a record before, and you’re not bringing in a producer yourself, then I should at least be co-producing it. Trust me, this will save you time, money, and frustration.


A co-producer will engineer an album and make suggestions / subjective comments in order for you to make the best recording possible. They’ll be active in assessing takes and suggesting sounds, arrangements, etc. Often times, they will jump into the session cold on the first day. Generally they will be the sole engineer as well.


An engineer knows how to operate the recording equipment in the studio, get sounds and accommodate the requests of the artist or producer.


This information is intended to educate LSRR clients about the nature of digital media and also to establish legal boundaries regarding their digital data. 
Make multiple backups of your data. Unless there are at least two copies of the data somewhere it is not safe. Three copies is preferred. This is YOUR responsibility! Backup copies of sessions in the digital realm should be made daily during the course of a session and taken home with the artist or producer at night. Post-session backups can be made onto external Firewire or USB hard drives, stored in an online data storage bank or burned to DVD-R or CD-R. There is no certainty that a CD-R or DVD-R will hold data for the long term or that a stored hard drive will play back after sitting for any amount of time so back up your data to newer media as time goes on. We highly recommend purchasing quality, name brand hard drives.

"Cowboy" Jack Clement rules for band members.


The LSRR is not responsible for:

  1. storing your data or audio tapes during the course of a recording project.
  2. storing your data or audio tapes once the project is completed.
  3. data left on premises, either the dissemination of said data or loss thereof.
  4. educating or instructing any client on the care and safety of digital data.
  5. unrecoverable data, whether it be on flashdrive, hard drive, CD-R or DVD-R

The Lantern Sound Recording Rig Philosophy

Mick Hargreaves on the front porch at the LSRR
We do things differently than most studios.
 Three things make us unique:
  1. An incredible vintage farmhouse and the accompanying sonic space we get to create. Picture making a record inside a Norman Rockwell painting.

  2. The vintage gear.

  3. Over thirty years of performing, recording, touring, experience.
The Farmhouse  
  • For their second record, The Band rented a large house from Sammy Davis Jr., nestled in the Hollywood Hills, turning the pool house into a recording studio.
  • For "Exile on Main Street", The Rolling Stones rented a villa, NellcĂ´te, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, near Nice, and turned the basement into a recording studio.
  • Bob Dylan and The Band wrote and recorded a ton of tunes at Big Pink, Rick Danko's rented house in Saugerties, NY. Dylan would later tell Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone, “That’s really the way to do a recording—in a peaceful, relaxed setting—in somebody’s basement. With the windows open … and a dog lying on the floor.”

It is this philosophy of putting the artist in a mode of ultra-relaxation that drives our recording methods at the LSRR. Everything we do must necessarily accomplish that end.

We've been helping artists make records since 2009, and since October 2014, the LSRR has been operating in a 1920's farmhouse on a 40-acre farm in the Long Island Pine Barrens, with very few distractions, a comfortable vibe that is unmatched in the area, and a commitment to doing things differently than conventional studios.

I've worked in some studios that feel like you're in the Emergency Room at the local hospital. We strive to be the polar opposite of that, and artists truly love the vibe here. There's a giant country kitchen, and guest rooms, which artists can always use, at no extra charge. Then there's the sizable main stairwell that can be used as a reverb chamber, or for ambient/drum sounds. We use the house as an instrument. There's 40 acres out back for break time and strolls.

In the end, if the artist does not feel as if we are living, breathing, eating, and occupying their record here until it is lovingly completed, then we have failed. We haven't failed yet.

Full Gear List

Vintage Gear
We recordists, more or less, are all working with the same / comparable gear. As they say, "it's the ear, not the gear". But some the gear we have DOES set us apart from other area studios.

The early 1960's Rogers "Holiday" drum kit (red sparkle, made in Dayton, OH) that records like a dream. It's my Rock (and Roll) of Gibraltar drum kit.

Tom Curiano (Garland Jeffries) behind the Rogers drum kit
Then there's the recently-arrived 1920 Hazelton Brothers baby grand piano in the front parlour, made right in New York City. It's built like a tank, and can handle everything from delicate treatments to rock and roll bashing.

There's an extensive quiver of guitars and basses, shown here in the control room rack, all of which are here for artists to use at any time. There's a 1964 Ampeg B15N bass amp (shown in Iso Closet No. 3, under the stairs) that has been a gold standard of vintage recorded bass sounds in the industry for a long, long time.

Guitar players are notoriously particular about their amplifier rigs, but they just as often use our Fenders and Vox models, some of which are shown (left) in Isolation Closet No. 2, attached to the control room.  

Among the many microphone preamps we have are two channels of Ampex 602's. These are the same mic pre's that were part of the 2-channel portable Ampex 602 tape recorder used by Garth Hudson to record "The Basement Tapes" at Big Pink with Bob Dylan and The Band.

We use the Ampex 602's most often for electric guitar & bass amp DI/mics, but they're also great for vintage vocal sounds, room ambience, and keyboards. They've got an amazing inherent compression quality.
The Ampex 602 mic preamps, pictured in original "suitcase" rack,
which also used to accommodate the two-track tape machine portion.
Full Gear List

Mick Hargreaves

I approach the recording process from the artist's perspective, and always with the artist first in mind. Sometime around 1983, in my first band, we took control of the recording process ourselves, because we had some experienced radio guys in the band, and because doing it ourselves was the only affordable way!  One track reel to reel machines led to two, four, eight track machines, used where we could borrow time on the cheap, and then by procuring gear for ourselves, piece by piece.

Mick Hargreaves in the first floor control room at the LSRR
Along the way, I went in and out of proper recording studios all the time, gaining more perspective and experience each step of the way. In the 1990's I was in The Grip Weeds, who put together an entire studio in a house, where we produced finished records; a big step. Then I slowly began accumulating gear.

A bunch of bands, national and international tours, many records, storage spaces, and residences later... I realized sometime around 2009 that I had the right stuff, and gear, to begin producing recordings by other artists under the "Lantern Sound Recording Rig" name. For quite a while, I had no dedicated space - I'd record wherever possible; basic tracking and mixing in borrowed houses, overdubs just about anywhere, mixing at home in my apartment.

My bass playing is included on any recording that needs it.
Then in October of 2014 an opportunity came to rent an entire 1920's farmhouse presented itself, in the Long Island Pine Barrens. Located on a 40 acre former horse farm, this Norman-Rockwell-type, plaster-and-lath, ornate wood-worked residence was perfect!

MH tracking acoustic guitar in passageway between the drum room and the front parlor.
The control room got installed in a first floor bedroom. This opens onto the main live (dining) room, with wood floor & ceiling, added sonic treatments, an adjacent front parlour separated by French pocket doors, and a large stairwell big enough to use for ambient reverb, and big enough to accommodate a drum kit when we wanted.

All the pieces were in place.
The Lantern Sound Recording Rig had found a home.

Full Gear List
Announcing... New for 2017...

George Howard's 3rd Floor
Analog Mix/Tracking Room
at the LSRR