What makes the "Fifth Circle" Sound?

The pleasing sound you will hear on your recording is created through a wide range of reasons. First, we use some of the highest quality gear on the market. This includes the use of Microphones, Pre-Amplifiers, Converters, and Mastering Effects. When it comes to mix and master your recording, FCA's monitoring is stellar.  When you can hear everything in the mix, the quality gets that much higher.  All of our engineers are also highly trained and experienced in the recording and post-production of acoustic music. All of our engineers are also either current performing musicians or former musicians. When you combine their lifetime exposure to the music and technical experiences, you will receive a stellar result.


How Far in Advance do I have to book?

While there is no set required time to book a recording, the sooner you book, the better. We generally prefer if you can give us at least a couple of weeks notice. It is also advantageous to you, the client, to book early to be assured of getting a spot in our schedule.


Once you have recorded my concert/recording session, how long will it take to get my recording?

The turn-around time varies on what kind of recording was made and how many other recordings are in the production que. The turn-around can range anywhere from one week to a month or more.  Things that can affect the turnaround time include- the size of the mix, how much editing is needed, client response time to questions and other similar issues.  Certain times of the year get very busy for FCA and while there will be multiple people working on your project, it can still take awhile.


What if I need my recording sooner?


What can you edit?


What is mastering and why do I want it?

Mastering is a creative process of putting the finishing touches on your recording. You may wonder why this is really needed. After all, the final mix of your concert or session will most likely sounded very good. There are several reasons to consider mastering:

  • It will perfect the spacings and level changes between the pieces or movements of your recording.
  • To match the overall tonal balance of each song which may not have been achieved in the original recording. This is especially important when you have had sessions or concerts recorded on multiple days or in different venues.
  • To gain consistency between pieces in the program so that transitions will work together a bit better.

Working with these factors will result in a recording that is far superior in sound quality to one that is not mastered.


What is the mastering process?

The first step is, the mastering engineer will load your recording onto a high-end digital audio workstation. There, he will be able to do any editing that is needed. This can range from splicing of music (from a session) or simply assembling the individual pieces on a CD from a concert.

The Mastering engineer listens to your work on a high-quality listening system. At FCA, we use high quality PMC monitor speakers with high-end digital to audio conversion.  Our room has also been treated to provide a flat frequency response.  This enables the engineer to hear the subtleties and nuances in your recording so they can be enhanced. From there, the engineer will use a combination of processes to polish the final sound of your recording. This can will usually include equalization, compression and peak limiting as well as the addition of reverb on occasion. One of the advantages of using Fifth Circle Audio is the comfort you will have knowing that our engineers have a wide range of experiences with a large variety of music.

A CD reference or online .wav master is then made for the client. This master will be of suitable quality so they can enjoy it for themselves and make the final approval of the project.

After approval a DDP 2.0 image will be generated that can be used for replication of CDs for mass distribution.


What is a DPP image?

DDP stands for Disc Description Protocol. It is a data image developed by Doug Carson Associates (http://www.dcainc.com/) of your CD master that replicators can read to manufacture your master. It is preferred to replicating from an audio CD as there is a lot more control of the final product and a much better chance of eliminating errors of all kinds from the manufacturing process.


Are there any extra features you can add to my CD?


Why don't my track titles show up in iTunes or other media players?  Why are the wrong titles coming up when I put my CD in the computer?

Computer-based media players are a tricky situation.  This is a very common question and/or complaint.  Computer-based media players do not look at the CD for track information.  Rather, they look online to the Gracenote CD Database (CDDB).  A media player will look at the CD as a whole- how many tracks, how long are those tracks, what is the spacing of those tracks.  As CDs get longer and longer, they by that nature become more and more individualized.  The chances that another disc is exactly the same length, number and spacing of tracks are slim.  However, for shorter demo CDs, this can end up being a big problem as there will be more of a chance of other discs that will be similar.  CD track titles can be submitted through media players such as iTunes, but that is still not a guarantee that your CD will look correct on other computers.  The only possible solution to these problems is to reburn the CD with slightly different track timings in hopes that you get a unique disc.  However, this is still not a guaranteed fix that another disc may not come along to mess things up.  It is unfortunate, but this is the way things are.


What is involved in doing a recording session?

When you book your recording, inform us as to the style of music and purpose of the recording. The approach to recording an orchestra's audition tape will be different than the approach to recording a CD release. Most classical music depends upon the sound of an acoustic space. Because of this, you will get a better recording in one of the many concert halls or churches around town. If you need a referral or list of preferred spaces, please contact us. Fifth Circle Audio does not currently run a recording studio, however we have connections to several studios around the Los Angeles area.


How long will a session take?

The length of time to complete a session depends upon what the requirements are. Obviously, an audition tape won't take as long as a CD session. At a bare minimum, I would book at least triple the time of your program (ie. 20 minutes of music would book the minimum session time). This would be for a video demo session where you just want one take on each piece. For CD recording sessions or sessions where a lot of editing will be expected, book one hour of time for every 4-5 minutes of music.


Why does a recording session take so long?

Trust us, it does. We have had many clients that do not listen and end up getting caught without enough recording time. The recording process is very time-consuming. When submitting a tape, you become very sensitive to mistakes. You will hear every missed note, every ensemble or intonation problem, and every phrase you wanted to play differently. It is also very fatiguing. You will want to take breaks for rest or to listen to a playback. All of this takes time.

We cannot stress this enough. Make sure you book enough time for your needs.


Do I need a producer?

YES! Having a second set of ears to listen to your performance is very important. This person should be familiar with the style of music you play as to make judgment calls on it. This person must be able to read a score and approve or judge the recorded sound and balances. The engineers at Fifth Circle Audio are all able to read a score, HOWEVER if we use our concentration reading your score, we won't have it to listen to your recording. It is to your advantage to have a producer.


Why multi-track?

While the engineers at FCA are all able to mix straight to stereo, and frequently do in broadcast situations, the multi-track recording allows for a far better job to be done in post-production.  On site, the tools available are more limited and the monitoring abilities are frequently compromised.  In this age where laptop computers allow for massive recording capabilities in a small package, it does not make sense to *not* multi-track all recordings.


What makes for a good concert video?

There are several factors that go into the planning of a concert shoot.  Video camera and lens quality is a small part of this.  Other factors include staffing of a shoot- how are the shooters equipped to handle a concert?

Light is also crucial.  If a stage or a room is dimly lit, your video will appear dimly lit.  If people's faces are in shadows, they will not look good on screen.


Why do you prefer to render video files and not deliver a DVD?

Quite plainly, the DVD is nearly end of life.  A file that would be viewed on YouTube can be a high-definition file.  These days, you can even stream a 4K UHD file.  A standard HD video is 1920x1080 pixels in size.  To compare, a DVD is 720x480 pixels in size or less than 1/4 of the resolution.



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Copyright 2016 • Fifth Circle Audio, Inc.

1860 N. Obispo Ave • Suite A

Signal HIll, CA 90755

(562) 597-0262 Studio • (310) 871-7687 Cellular