The following are the most common questions that we are asked on the phone and via email. There are, of course, a number of other questions that you may have which are not covered below. If that is the case, we welcome all inquiries on the main phone line, 510-486-2038, or via email to Jeffrey Wood and/or Allison Gomer. Their emails can be found on the contact page of our website.

How should I prepare for my session?

Preparing for your session is one of the most important parts of the recording process. Here are some tips to help you save time, money and stress:

Practice!

Studio recording is very different from live performances, so it is important to set aside some time to rehearse specifically for your session. The main goal of these rehearsals should be for everyone involved in the project to know their parts well. Each member should be able to play the whole song correctly without other instrumentation.

Some things to think about:

  • How many songs would you like to record?
  • Would you like to record everyone at the same time, or would you prefer to record each instrument separately?
  • It can be helpful to decide on an order in which to record your songs. Consider the instrumentation and complexity of each song when you put this together.
  • Do you need to change your instrument strings, drum heads, or make adjustments to any of your equipment before recording?

Sounds and preferences:

If you have a specific sound you are going for when mixing your project, it can be helpful to draw inspiration from other artists. Consider listening to some of your favorite songs and pinpointing what you like about them sonically (not the songwriting, but the actual sounds). It may be helpful to compile a CD of your favorites to show to our engineers.

Things to bring to the studio:

Your instrument and any amplifiers or accessories you require. Also please be prepared with any music charts or lyrics sheets that you may need.

How long will it take to mix my project?

Before mixing songs you must have all of their pieces. Mixing is essentially putting it all together and making room for everything sonically. It’s also the step where you put EQ, FX, and reverb on things and make those final decisions as far as level and sound placement. Mixing is just as important as tracking, if not more so. Time allotted for mixing depends on how different you’d like all of the songs to sound texturally and aesthetically. If they are all similar and straightforward, then the mixes will go faster; if every song is different in sounds then you have to sculpt more as you go along. Mixing is also where you make sure that all of the instruments are balanced and that they stay balanced. This means you have to pay attention to each one independently and also in relation to the whole.

On label projects it’s not unusual to spend up to a day per song mixing, although it is also common to do two per day. It involves quite a bit of listening, and listening happens in real time. So consider that if you have a six-minute song, each time you listen through it is going to be six minutes of time. If you have nine songs and a ten hour day that’s only somewhere around an hour and seven minutes to spend focused on one song, which is not very much time.

The whole process is a bit like cooking or baking; tracking is like preparing all of the ingredients, measuring, chopping, etc. Overdubs are like seasoning and doing the final part of the prep work. Mixing is like putting it on the stove and having it all come together in to a delicious cohesive dish and mastering is like presenting it on a plate, giving it that final polish and beauty.

What about mastering?

Mastering is the final step before going to reproduction. It’s not necessary but it is very highly recommended. We collaborate with two on-site mastering engineers, but we can also recommend others.

What are your rates?

Because we are a multi-room facility and each room’s size and functionality is different, our rates depend upon which room best suits your project and how complex your session instrumentation will be. We do make adjustments for clients that book extended periods of time. Please give us a call at 510-486-2038 so we can talk about your specific project.

How do I get to Fantasy Studios?

Fantasy Studios is located at 2600 Tenth Street in Berkeley. The entrance is located on Tenth Street between Parker and Carlton. Please park in the lot and come in through the front doors. You will need to get a parking pass from the studio when you first arrive if you do park in the lot (you will never be ticketed or towed, but the building management needs to know which cars belong where in an emergency).

Additionally, there is a shuttle to and from Ashby BART during specific weekday hours. Please inquire about this service with studio management when booking your session.

How do I get into Fantasy Studios after hours and on weekends?

Drive up to the gate entrance on 2600 Tenth Street (the gate will be closed). Press the silver button on the intercom and wait for a response from the guard. Identify that you have a session at Fantasy Studios and the guard will open the gate for you. Once you are parked, he will open the glass doors to the Zaentz Media Center, followed by our red doors inside the building.

The guard is always given night and weekend session lists, so he can show you back to the correct room if you are unsure of where your session is going to be. If you know where you’re headed, feel free to go back to your studio.

Where can I load in/load out?

We have a street-accessible loading dock for your convenience. It is located on Parker Street between Ninth and Tenth Street, and is the second set of double doors closer to Ninth Street.

What is the cancellation policy?

If you need to cancel your session, we ask that you let us know at least 72 hours in advance. If it is less than 72 hours in advance, we will retain your deposit. If it is greater than the 72-hour limit, we are happy to reschedule the session to another date or refund your deposit.

Do you provide session musicians?

We do not provide session musicians; however, we work regularly with many of the best players in the Bay Area. We are happy to refer you to any musicians that may fit with your project style.

Do you offer producers to help with my session?

It is not standard practice at Fantasy Studios to offer producers with sessions. However, we are familiar with a number of renowned producers who work here on a regular basis, hired directly by clients who are here to record. If you feel that your project could benefit from a producer and you may be interested in hiring someone, please speak with us directly and we will be happy to refer you to a producer who may be a good match for your project.

Can I rent instruments from the studios? And do you have a drum kit?

We do have some instruments and amplifiers available for clients to use. In addition to our two concert quality grand pianos, we have a Hammond B3 organ with two Leslie speakers, as well as Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos. We also have a large selection of vintage guitar and bass amps. Please refer to our equipment page where you can find a downloadable PDF of our equipment list. If we do not have the instrumentation you require, we are always happy to arrange rentals for you.

We do not have a house drum kit available for use. We have found that most drummers have unique specifications. However, as with all gear we do not carry, we will be more than happy to work with our vendors to find a rental drum kit to match your needs.

Who is responsible for tuning the piano?

Every session is unique, and not all will require a precise piano tuning. Some, of course, will require a pristinely tuned piano. Please notify us if you would like to have the piano tuned before your session and we will make the necessary arrangements. You will be billed $150, which will go completely back to the tuner.

Where should I stay if I am coming from out of town?

Berkeley has many different accommodation options. Please contact us so we may assist you in finding the most convenient and pleasant location for your stay. We have special arrangements with certain hotels and motels in the area.

Some examples of hotels (at varying price points) where our out-of-town clients like to stay are as follows:

Claremont Resort 

Doubletree Marina 

Downtown Berkeley Inn 

Golden Bear Inn

Do you make beats?

We do not make beats. You are welcome to bring in any beats that you have for us to import into the session. Please give us a call to talk more specifically about your project goals.

What if I want to bring in my own engineer?

If you have an outside engineer that you are considering, please discuss this person with us when you call to book your session. We must ensure that all outside engineers are comfortable with the technology in our rooms (the consoles, patch bays, mics and outboard gear, and even sweet spots in the room). We would be happy to assign an assistant to help facilitate the session, if necessary.

Do you record to tape?

We are able to record to tape; however, we would like to speak with you about the specifics of your session in order to determine if tape is the best option for your project. Recording to tape usually means an increase in cost, and you must supply your own reels of tape.