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about Brambleton Sound

Brambleton Sound is a business run by Sam Hillman that offers a wide variety of professional audio services. Sam Hillman spent 4 years studying Audio Production at Middle Tennessee State University; a school located near Nashville, TN: Music City USA and widely regarded as having one of the best Recording Industry programs in the world. - Based in Frederick, MD.


NOW OFFERING LIVE/ON-LOCATION AUDIO & VIDEO RECORDING + LIVE SOUND SERVICES!! (See "Rates & Services" section for details.)

I have experience, producing, engineering, and mixing many genres of music. Some artists that I have worked with include:

   > Take Care (Pop Punk) - "All This Time I've Felt Like Nothing" LP (Oct. 2014) P/E/M/M
   > Angel Snow (Folk) - "In My Head" (May 2014) P/E/M/M with Jimmy Mansfield - Shure Recording Competition Grand Prize
   > The Lost Trailers (Pop/Country) - "It's Goin' Down Tonight" Single (June 2013) Co-Engineered with Jimmy Mansfield
   > Cheng_ (Indie Rock/Pop) - "Stories From The Other Side Of Home" (June 2013) E/M/M
   > Marack (Hip Hop) - "Wake Up" LP (July 2013) P/E/M/M
   > Never Let Go (Rock/Alternative) - "All Or Nothing" EP (March 2013) P/E/M/M
   > AFRO (Jazz/Rock Fusion) - "Out Of The Cocoon" LP (Dec 2012) "Papermate", "Flat Rock" (Co-Engineered)
   > Q Da Gamer (Hip Hop) - "Themez Of Karma" LP (In Progress) "Janet Jackson", "Murder Kounty" (June 2012) P/E/M/M
   > Tha Livin Truth (Rap/Hip-Hop) - "Endangered Species" Mixtape (July 2012) P/E/M/M
   > All We Stand For (Hardcore) - "We'll Figure It Out Later", "Catacombs", "We Will Not Be Silent" (March 2012) P/E/M/M
   > Go Home Freshmen (Pop-Punk)
      - So Far So Bad (October 2011) Taylor Swift Cover (Dec 2010) Look Who's Talking EP (Oct 2010)
      - P/E/M/M
   > Summer Sessions (Soft Rock/Acoustic) Small Town Memories (September 2011) and 2010 Demo P/E/M/M
   > Ocean Architecture (Progressive Metal) Animus (July 2011) Engineered
   > Me Vs Gravity (Pop Rock) "Walls (Acoustic)" (March 2010) E/M/M
   > My Best Friends Birthday (Punk) Acoustic EP (December 2010) P/E/M/M
   > Hope Held High (Indie Rock) "What We're Designed To Do" (2012) M/M
   > Twisted Roots (Funk/Rock) "Stars" Engineered
   > Benjamin Meyers (Electronic/Songwriter) "Lullaby For a Crime" E/M/M
   > Andy Cizek (Solo Acoustic) "Stars Align" (September 2010) E/M/M
   > DJ Carnage (Hip Hop) "Cookin' Chicken" (August 2010) Engineered
   > Adlib (Rap) 301 Mixtape (March, 1st 2012) P/E/M/M
   > Rob Sieben (Folk/Blues)
   > The Rising (Rock)
   > Jack Rentcshler (Solo Acoustic) (2009 Demo) E/M/M
   > Signs Point East (Rock) 6 Song EP (Sep. 2011) P/E/M/M
   > White Ash (Rock) "Kiss Me In The Dark" (Sep. 2010) P/E/M/M
   > Bastos (Rap) "Scarface Fantasy" P/E/M/M
   > Jay Duck (Rap)
   > Mike Kehr (Solo Acoustic Covers) P/E/M/M
   > PoleCat (Pop Rock) Fresh To Def (2009 Demo) P/E/M/M
   > Split The Seas (Alternative/Hardcore) (2009 Demo) P/E/M/M
   > The Hardest Decision (Pop-Punk) "Beware Of The Suit Nazis" (March 2010) P/E/M/M
   > Heart Of A Hero (Post-Hardcore) Phantoms EP (August 2010) P/E/M/M
   > Late Scenes (Indie Rock) (2010 Demo) P/E/M/M
   > Corey Brown (Solo Acoustic)
   > Joshua Diggs (R&B/Pop)
   > Off The Deck (Bar Band) 12 Song Demo
   > Denzel Bristow (Rap)
   > Shihee Bowie (Hip Hop)
   > Nick and Chris Foto-Lawton (Freestyle Rap)

I strive to exceed an artist's expectations on production and quality based on their budget. I also strive to improve my skills as a Producer and Engineer with every project that I do.

Are you or your band currently Self-Recording?

Quality recording gear has become a commodity for the average person. The days of the multi-million dollar studio are pretty much over. There are lots of people putting out amazing work using very little more than a laptop, some recording software, and a mic or two. However, it is not the gear that makes a good production, it is more about the experience and skills of the person engineering, mixing, or mastering. These skills take a long time to develop just like learning to play an instrument. Many artists these days are trying fill the jobs of many, A kind of one man army. They are playing The roles of: songwriter, performing artist, producer, and tracking/mixing/mastering engineer all at once. This is a noble effort, but there are also many who people dedicate their entire working lives to just ONE of these jobs. Trying to merely meet, let alone exceed the quality of productions with a dedicated Engineer is impossible for the "one man army" artist going at recording in their home studio.

By choosing to hire a dedicated Engineer/Producer for your project, you are leaving the dirty work behind producing, recording, mixing, and mastering to them so you don't have to worry about it. You are paying for a highly developed skill, and trained, unbiased ears with your music. I can help you make creative decisions as a producer and capture the heart and soul behind your music as an engineer.

my gear

here is a complete list of the gear and intstruments that I use in my studio:


Instruments Available For Use: FREE OF CHARGE


Drums/Percussion:

> Mapleworks Custom Drums: 10", 12", 15" Toms (6 Ply), 22"x18" Kick (8 Ply), all Keller Maple shells.
> Orange County 13"x7" Maple Snare (Die Cast Hoops)
> Mapex Black Panther 14"x8" Big Cat Snare
> Pearl Joey Jordison 13"x6.5" Signature Steel Snare
> Pearl Sensitone 14"x5.5" Steel Snare
> Pearl Forum Series 14"x5.5" Steel Snare
> Pearl Steel Student 14"x5.5" Steel Snare
> Pork Pie "Pig Lite" 13"x6" Acrylic Snare
> Audition 14"x5.5" Vintage 6 Lug Snare
> Lots of auxiliary percussion, Tambourine, shakers etc.

Cymbals:

Zildjian
> 14" New Beat Hi-Hat
> 21" Sweet Ride
> 16" and 18" Fast Crashes
> 16" Thin Crash
> 18" ZBT China
> 10" ZXT Splash
> 10" ZHT China-Splash
> 6" Zil-Bell
> Wuhan 12" China
> Sabian B8 Pro 20" Ride
> Sabian Alu-Bell
> Paiste Alpha/Dimensions series 14" Hat
> Paiste 8" Splash
> 22" Vintage Neil Peart Zildjian ride and 14" crash
> 10" Fast Splash
> Sabian 16" AAX crash, 15" AAX Xtreme China,
Pedals:

> Tama Iron Cobra Power-Glide double pedal
> Pearl Eliminator double pedal
> Pearl P-900 single chain pedal

Guitars/String Instruments:

> Gibson Les Paul Studio (1990)
> Fender Standard Telecaster
> Epiphone Casino (Vintage 1960s)
> Aria Full hollowbody electric Gibson L5 clone (Vintage 1960s)
> Epiphone Les Paul Special II (with Duncan JB Bridge Pickup)
> Epiphone Les Paul Custom (Sadie)
> Stratocaster loaded with Seymour Duncan Pickups
> Fender Special Edition Precision Bass (P-Bass)
> Ibanez SDGR 4 String Bass w/ Active Humbuckers
> Hofner Beatles Bass (Ignition Series)
> Martin DCX-1E Dreadnought acoustic with Fishman Blender pickup
> Ovation CS257 Celebrity Acoustic
> Fender Dreadnought Acoustic
> Ibanez Classical/Nylon String acoustic-electric
> Washburn Ukulele

Amps/Cabs/Pedals:

> Peavey 6505+ 120 watt Tube Head
> Marshall JCM-900 SL-X 2100 Tube Head
> Vox AC30 CCH Tube Head
> Modded Epiphone Valve Junior 5 Watt Tube Head
> Avatar Vintage style 2x12 cab (Loaded with Celestion Vintage 30, and Celestion G12H30)
> Seismic Audio 1x12 Cab (Open Back, Eminence Legend 8ohm)
> Electro Harmonix Memory Boy Analog Delay
> MOD Kit Ring Resonator (Fuzz)
> Morley Wah-Wah Pedal
> MXR 10 Band EQ (Vintage Blue)
> MXR Distortion III
> Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
> Ibanez CP-10 Compressor/Sustainer

Keyboards/MIDI Controllers:
> Casio Privia PX-350 88 key Hammer Action Fully Weighted
> M-Audio Axiom 49
> M-Audio Keystation 88es
> Casio General MIDI Keyboard

Brass/Woodwinds:
> 2x Bach Student Trumpets
> Selmer Alto Saxaphone
> Bass Trombone



Interfaces/Converters:


> MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid Interface (28x28 I/O) FW/USB
> Behringer ADA 8200 8ch A/D with Midas Mic Preamps (x2)
> M-Audio ProjectMix I/O (Control Surface + 8ch Interface)
> Tascam US-1800 (16ch Interface)
> ART DPS II 2ch Preamp and SPIDIF A/D Converter
> Zoom H4n (for mobile/location recordings)


Computers:


> Custom Intel i7 Windows 8.1 + "Hackintosh"
> Gigabyte P15F-V2 16GB RAM 2.8ghz Intel i7 Windows 8.1


Software:


DAWs:
> AVID ProTools 11

> AVID ProTools 10

> Cockos Reaper

Guitar Amp Sims:
> Line 6 POD Farm 2
> IK Multimedia Amplitube 3 (ENGL, Orange, and Jet City)

Drums/Sampling:
> Drum Forge 1.0
> Slate Trigger 2 Platinum
> Steven Slate Drums EX 3.5
> Toontrack EZ Drummer
> FXpansion BFD Lite

Tuning/Editing
> Antares AutoTune 7 and 6 Evo
> Waves Tune
> SynchroArts Revoice Pro 3
> Celemony Melodyne Editor 2

Analog Emulation
> Slate Digital VCC (Virtual Console Collection)
> Waves Kramer MPX Master Tape
> Massey Tapehead

Mastering
> Slate Digital FGX (Mastering Processor)
> IK Multimedia T-Racks CS Grand
> Massey L2007 Mastering Limiter

Effects
> SoundToys Native Effects and Devil-Loc Deluxe
> LiquidSonics Reverberate
> iZotope Alloy 2
> DMG Audio EQuilibrium
> JST Gain Reduction
> JST Clip
> JST Pixelator
> Boz Digital Labs (Sasquatch, Littlefoot, T-Bone, Panipulator)
> Massey CT4 and CT5 Compressors
> Waves Gold Bundle
> Waves Kramer PIE
> Waves Renaissance Bass

Virtual Instruments
> FXpansion DCAM Synth Squad
> IK Multimedia Miroslav Philharmonik
> Native Instruments Komplete 8
> IK Sampletake 2.5 Total Studio 3
> AIR Creative Collection


Keyboards/MIDI Controllers:


> Casio Privia PX-350 - 88 key Fully Hammer Action Weighted
> M-Audio Keystation 88es
> M-Audio Axiom 49
> Casio General MIDI Keyboard


Monitoring:


> ADAM Audio A7
> ADAM Audio A3X
> KRK Rokit 10S Powered Subwoofer
> Sennheiser HD650 Headphones
> Shure SRH 1440 Headphones
> Harmon Kardon 2.1 Computer Speakers
> Creative Audio Computer Speakers
> Sharp Bookshelf Speakers
> AR Audiophile speakers
> Sony MDR-7506 Headphones x2
> Vic Firth Extreme Isolation headphones x2
> Sony MDR-V-150 headphones x3
> Sony Noise Cancelling headphones


Acoustic Treatment:


> GIK Acoustics (Bass Trapping,Broadband Absorption, Diffusion)
> Auralex Acoustics (High Frequency absorption, Monitor Decoupling)
> Primacoustic Crashguard > Owens Corning (Soundproofing/Isolation)


Microphones:


   Condensers/Capacitor:


   > Neumann U87
   > AKG C414 XL II (x2)
   > Shure KSM 42
   > Shure KSM 141 (x2)
   > ADK Vienna mk8
   > Rode NT-1A (x2)
   > Rode NT-4 (Stereo Mic)
   > CAD M179 (x3)
   > Superlux S241 (x2)
   > Shure Beta 91a
   > Audio Technica PZM/Boundary (x2)
   > 12 Gauge Microphones RED12 (x1)
   > Behringer ECM-8000

   Dynamic:


   > Shure SM7B
   > Shure SM57 (x3)
   > Shure Beta 57
   > Shure SM58
   > Shure Beta 52
   > Sennheiser e602
   > Revox M3500
   > Sennheiser e609
   > Prodipe TT1
   > AKG D 8000 S
   > Realistik High ball 2 Omni (x3)
   > Guitar Amp Subkick
   > Misc Cheap Dynamic Mics

   Ribbon:


   > Apex 205 (x2) Modded
   > Nady RSM-4 (x2) Modded
   > CAD Trion 7000 Modded


Preamps:


> Focusrite ISA One x2
> Seventh Circle Audio A12 (API 512 clone) x1
> Seventh Circle Audio N72 (Neve 1272 clone) x1
> Seventh Circle Audio T15 (DAV BG1 clone) x4
> ART DPS II 2ch Preamp and SPIDIF A/D Converter
> SM Pro Audio PR8 (Op-Amps Modded)
> Vintage SoundCraft Series 1S Console x16 (Sowter Transformers and 4 Band EQ on every channel)
> Presonus Studio Channel


DI:


> Focusrite ISA One
> DIY RE "Ferrite" Passive DI box
> DIY RE "Line2Amp" Passive Reamp
> Radial ProRMP Passive Reamp
> Whirlwind IMP 2 Passive DI box
> Rapco Passive DI box
> George L Cables


Live Sound Equipment:


> JBL EON 615 (Active 15" Mains with Bluetooth control)
> Allen & Heath Mixwizard WZ3 (16 Channel Mixer)
> Kustom KPC10MP 10" Active Wedge Monitors (x2)
> XS Pro 16x4 100 foot XLR Snake


Awesome Stuff That You Don't Have:


> CoreSound Schneider Disc Mic Baffle
> Guitar Amp Mic Placement Robot


Repair/Maintenance Equipment:


> Hakko 936 Variable Tempurature Soldering Station
> Tenma 60-3055 Dual Trace 2 Channel Oscilloscope
> Extech 380771 Auto-Ranging DMM (With Capacitance/HFE Measurement)
> Behringer CT100 Cable Tester
> Panavise with PCB and Standard Vise Mounts
> ADC Punch Tool for Longframe and TT Patchbays

session tips

some recording studio truths to live by...

Regardless of where you take your music, these guidelines should help you be ready to perform at your best at any session. I have worked with many artist/bands, and every situation is different. New artists who haven't recorded their music before may not be comfortable playing to a click (metronome), or have false expectations about how far "fixing it in the mix" can be taken.



Writing/Rehearsal Tips:



> Have your songs completely written down. Every part for every instrument (this applies mostly to bands). Whether it is Lyric Sheets, Chord Charts, or Tablature; all of it will help the Engineer and Producer immensely and help the sessions go more smoothly. This seems simple, but I have had people come in with only a riff and maybe a melody for the chorus. The lyrics were not even written yet!
Have form or structure of the song has been decided so the song stays interesting and involving. Some would say that it is better to have too much material than not enough, because then you are able to redact and trim down sections so the song is a certain length or feels right. Quantity may not mean quality though. Does that guitar solo really need to be 24 bars? Maybe it would work better with just an 8 bar solo to add excitement before the last chorus, rather than repeating licks to infinity and beyond. (I mean... we don't want everybody do the next "Free Bird" right?)

> Make sure your drummer has rehearsed all of the songs ad nauseum. If he isn't ready, then we shouldn't be tracking live drums. I repeat: Don't leave out the drummer! Say What?? But seriously, I have had drummers come into the studio that were not prepared to record at all (example: *pulls of headphones after 1st take* "I've never heard this song before!") Somehow everybody in the band had rehearsed the song, but the drummer was left out of the loop. If the drummer could not make it to rehearsal before you came into the studio, don't expect him to be able to pull the perfect take out of thin air. It won't happen. Everybody will feel stressed out (especially the poor drummer) and you may feel the drums didn't turn out the way you had hoped. This brings me to the next point.

> Rehearse EVERY song you plan to record to the point of disgust. Rehearse like you are getting ready for the biggest show you have ever played. Your recorded music could easily get heard by more people than come to a hundred of your shows. The better you know the parts, the better you will be able to focus on getting your music so it come across with precision, feeling, emotion, and you guessed it.. musicality! In a live performance once the piece is played, that's it.. you're done. It will never be heard that way ever again. When someone listens to your recording, they can listen as many times as they want! Any mistakes will start to show with repeated listens. Make sure that your recording is your best performance of your music that you ever have!

> This goes along the same lines as rehearsal, but it deserved it's own section. Every vocalist needs to know their parts. In many cases the lead vocalist knows his/her part but the backup vocalists don't have a clue. Harmonies and backing vocals were never considered. They either don't know the words, or have not worked out harmonies yet. Some vocalists have a feel for adding harmonies whether it be a major third third up or a perfect fifth down etc, but having these parts figured out before coming to the studio can save hours of overdubs. Lastly, memorize your lyrics. Reading off of a lyric sheet almost always ends with a less than stellar vocal take. You can always hear in the tone of voice that the person is reading it off of a sheet, and not 100% involved in delivering the take with musicality and emotion. The vocalist is not as focused on the emotion/expression put into the vocal when they have to interpret the words off of a sheet as they are singing.




How to conduct yourselves in the studio:


1.  Come ready to work hard, get a decent amount of sleep before coming in. It can help everybody just feel more open, alert, and friendly while working.
2.  Anything that you need that will help you perform better, please let me know about it. I will do what I can to accommodate you. For example, if your headphones are not working properly, don't wait until we have done 10 takes of the song to tell me that your headphone mix is messed up.
3.  STAY QUIET in the control room. The engineer and producer need to be able to listen critically, and communicate with those who are tracking.
4.  Don't record if you aren't feeling up to it. You will only want to re-record it later. This is most common with vocalists who are just having an "off day". There are just days when your voice just doesn't hit those high notes as well, or just doesn't feel right. I would rather you wait for another day when you know you can nail the take. Experienced vocalists often know immediately after warming up whether or not they will be at their best. The same goes for instruments. Don't play a lead guitar part sloppy just because the lead guitarist isn't there. He will probably insist on re-doing it later, taking up more time.
5.  If the entire band is at the session, make sure you bring something to keep you busy when you aren't tracking. The studio an get quite boring for those who are not playing. Be sure to bring laptops, phones, video games, etc to stay busy. Also, bring food and drinks. Having a few people go and pick up a pizza can bring instant energy back to a session! However, vocalists need to be careful about what they eat before singing.
6.  Some general rules for vocalists regarding food and drink:
     -  Eating before singing is not a good idea, but singing on an empty stomach is also not great either. Eat something about 2 hours before tracking vocals. This gives your throat time to relax after eating and also allows you to have more control over your diaphragm.
     -  Do not drink soda because it puts too much air in your stomach.
     -  Do not drink milk or other dairy products that create mucus in the throat.
     -  Do not drink citrus fruit drinks and Alcohol dry the throat.
     -  Do not drink anything that is ice cold because it constrains the throat.
     -  Warm or room temperature liquids like Tea, and Water are the best things to drink before and during singing. They soothe the throat. Honey is also common for helping "De-gunk" your throat before singing.
8.  If you mess up while recording, don't beat yourself up about it! Recording is stressful. It is only going to make it more difficult for you to get a good take. Frustration can slow down the session a lot, and spread throughout the other members of the band.
9.  Bring the gear that you want to use on your recordings to the session. I have instruments that I can provide for you, but if the sound you want is with your drum set or your guitar amp bring that to the session. It will make the search for the right sound much more simple.





After Tracking...


1. At this point I move onto the mixing/mastering process. I can usually send you away with rough mixes of everything to listen to. The final product often sounds quite different from the rough mix.

2. When I start to send mixes of the songs to you, don't listen to your individual part. Listen to how all of the parts fit together as a whole. Compare it to music you like and see how your recordings stack up against it. Offer advice that will help me take your music where you want it to be. Explain what you want as best you can and I will revise the mixes to better accomplish your goals.

3. Many people dismiss a mix as "bad" simply because it is not loud enough. The loudness of a mix is something that is addressed during mastering. You should also know that when I make a song as intrinsically loud as other music on the market, it sacrifices most of the dynamic range of the recording to create a louder, more "in your face" sound. This may seem better at first because the brain associates "louder" sound as "better" by nature, but the constantly loud sound is fatiguing to the ears and can make listening to your record difficult after long periods of time. The reason music is so compressed and loud these days is a trend that the music industry has fallen into known as the "Loudness War". Everybody is trying to make their record louder than everyone else's. The overall loudness of a recording is important to make your recording competitive with others on the market, but shouldn't be taken so far that the music starts to suffer.

4. When mastering is finished consider it your final product. If the proposed final mix has everyone's approval, that is how it is going to be forever. Any issues that you have need to be brought up before the final masters are delivered. your attitude, your musical skill, your sound and your music is what is coming out of your speakers more or less the same way you played it in the studio. No amount of processing, and editing and pitch shifting that I do is going to make your music magically better than it was to start. Garbage going in, is garbage coming out. I have high standards and I put my best effort into every project I do, but I don't like to have to pick up other's slack. Quality musicianship comes first in any recording chain!




I hope this blog was useful to you and will help you be prepared for a great session!


Here are some other helpful links with tips that can help improve your experience recording your music.

Guitar Tuning Nightmares Explained Drum Tuning Bible
Tips for Musicians BEFORE arriving at the studio (Los Senderos Studio, TX)
Tips for the Recording Session (Los Senderos Studio, TX)
Session Tips - Boston Recording Studio

my rates & services

Brambleton Sound offers many services including:

Studio Recording     

    -  Overdub Tracking: (Recording all musicians/instruments separately)
    -  Live Tracking:   (Recording the entire group together)
        $25/Hour
    *Price includes access to all in-house instruments, amplifiers, and other musical gear that belongs to me.


Live/On-Location Recording     

    -  Overdub Tracking: (Recording all musicians/instruments separately)
    -  Live Tracking:   (Recording the entire group together)
        $25/Hour
    *Billable time includes all load-up, travel, load-in, set-up, rehearsal, recording, and tear-down. Video recording can be provided at no extra charge.


Live Sound Engineering

    $25/hour   - PA System, Stage Monitors, Snakes, Mixer, Mics, and Cables available upon request.     *Billable time includes all load-up, travel, load-in, set-up, rehearsal, recording, and tear-down. Live Audio/Video Multi-Tracking available at no extra charge


Mixing and Mastering for any musical or audio project

    $75/song   - Must be in ProTools Session format (.PTX, .PTF, .PTS), or in a DAW interchangeable format (.OMF/.AAF or WAV Stems)     *Additional charges may be added for Editing, Pocketing, and Tuning if needed/desired.


Mastering for any musical or audio project

    $20/song   - Must be delivered in at least 44.1khz 16 Bit WAV or similar lossless quality.


Reamping Guitars with Peavey 6505, or Marshall JCM 900

    $20/song   - Must be delivered in at least 44.1khz 16 Bit WAV or similar lossless quality.


Audio Transfer/Restoration from Analog to Digital

    $10/hour   - Vinyl, Cassette, or 1/4" Tape to Studio Quality Digital Formats


Scoring Sound, Music, and Effects for Film/Video

    $25/hour

Don't be afraid to contact me with questions! I'd love to hear about your project/goals and find out specifically what I can do for you.

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sample music

here are some samples of my work


photos

see what's been happening around the studio