Recording Studios and Rehearsal Rooms in Hong Kong
Got yourself some bandmates but nowhere to practice? Lisa Cam scours the city for some awesome recording studios and rehearsal rooms.
Whether you’re looking to drop your first EP or you simply want to throw around a few tunes with your buddies, in space-starved Hong Kong, finding a place to get a band together—that a) is big enough to house a drum kit, and b) won’t deafen the neighbors—is no mean feat. Fortunately, there are plenty of studios with ample space (and soundproofing) where you can practice.
Opened in April 2012, the relatively new Zuk Studio offers brand-spanking-new equipment for bands that want to record a demo or just jam. The 800-square-foot premises, conveniently located in Mong Kok, offers three studios, all of which have recording capabilities. Zuk’s owners will even let you borrow from their stash of guitars for free. While their mixers offer a modest 6- to 10-track capability, you can’t fault the price—room hire starts from just $50 an hour from 11am to 7pm. No wonder it’s popular among the indie crowd. Be sure to call ahead though, as the rehearsal rooms are currently being upgraded.
Room 311, 3/F, Sincere House, 183 Argyle St., Mong Kok, 2395-3332, www.zuk-studio.com.
Urban Kings Music Studio
Having relocated from their former Quarry Bay premises to North Point, Urban Kings offers a full range of services, from recording demos to helping you lay down a track with which to serenade your sweetheart. If you don’t have all your gear with you, don’t fret—a full range of equipment is available to hire. What sets Urban Kings apart is its extremely groovy and atmospheric band room that’ll definitely get your creative juices flowing. Rates start at $380 an hour, with discounts for longer rentals.
1/F, 7 North View St., North Point, 2979-5433, www.ukms.com.hk.
When only the best will do, Avon Studio (formerly as the CBS Sony Studio) is the where the pop kings and queens of Hong Kong record their albums. All three of its professional studios have 48-channel consoles, plus a mastering room to fine-tune your songs. Avon is renowned within the industry for producing pitch-perfect sound quality for analog recordings. Apart from the standard drum set, there is also a grand piano for those with a classical bent. Starting from $800 an hour, Avon also provides the services of their industry acclaimed-sound engineers.
2/F & 5/F, Acme Building, 22 Nanking St., Jordan, 2359-6616, www.avonstudios.com.
Red Sound Recording Studio
Boasting a supreme mic system and soundproofed rooms that are fine-tuned acoustically for optimum sound, Red Sound promises to deliver the top-quality vocal recordings. Room rates start at $400 an hour, and that includes a sound engineer.
Block A, Unit 902, 9/F, Hoi Luen Industrial Center, 55 Hoi Yuen Rd., Kwun Tong, 6702-8585, www.red-sound.com.
Tom Lee Engineering’s Rehearsal Room
If you have a big collaboration in mind, the Tom Lee rehearsal room in To Kwa Wan is where you need to be. This massive sound room accommodates up to groups of 20. Operating since the 1970s and an extension of the Tom Lee Music store chain, the rehearsal room has no shortage of top-range equipment for your musical needs. Rental also includes sound engineers to coordinate the 48-track console for your recording. It doesn’t come cheap at around $1,000 an hour for a minimum of four to five hours, but for such a big space, that price ain’t half bad.
Units A & H, Freder Center, 3 Mok Cheong St., To Kwa Wan, 2362-0220, www.tomleeengineering.com.
Baron Music School
Baron Music School leases its studio to non-students. The school is equipped with a grand piano and acoustic guitars if you need a more classical sound for your arrangements. Studio rental is $580 an hour for a minimum of three hours.
7/F, Tung Chiu Commercial Centre, 193 Lockhart Rd.,Wan Chai, 2980-3668, www.bsm.com.hk.
Industry songwriter Damon Chiu has recently partnered up with his friends to open Honeycomb Studio to provide jamming space for aspiring bands. The simple one-room studio was started with a goal to cultivate band culture in Hong Kong and provide musicians with an opportunity to record their demos with industry insiders. Room rental starts at $100 an hour with a 20 percent discount for three hours or more. A sound engineer and music production will cost extra. If English is your only language, it will be best to have a Cantonese-speaking friend to call ahead.
Unit C2, 3/F, Marvel Industrial Building, Block B, 17-23 Kwai Fung Crescent, Kwai Fong, 9284-0364, www.honeycombstudiohk.com.
Noisy Room Production
A little off the beaten track, Noisy Room Productions is an intimate one-room studio that provides a cozy, down-to-earth vibe for band practice or recording. Studio manager Mr. Cheung is a friendly, musical man who will put you at ease with his easy conversation and advice. Studio rental: $190 an hour.
Unit 1205B, Wah Wai Industrial Building , 51-63 Pak Tin Par St., Tsuen Wan, 6198-6665.
Try This At Home
Lisa Cam heads to the Apple Store to get the lowdown on GarageBand.
If you have access to a quiet or soundproofed room, why not consider setting up a home studio on the cheap with Apple’s GarageBand progam? It comes pre-installed on Mac purchases, and you can buy the iPhone or iPad app for just $38 on iTunes. “GarageBand is a great introduction for people who want to start recording their own music,” says Kit, a friendly Genius staffer at Apple’s IFC store. He then proceeds to record random sound bites to show how easily they can be modified using the software. “With GarageBand, you can correct timing errors of individual players, or if you don’t have a drummer, keyboard or guitar player, there are also synthesized instruments you can use.” Of course, it’s no replacement for a proper studio with a professional sound engineer, but for messing around at home, it’s got more than enough bells and whistles to allow you to make a decent demo.
Here are a few other apps for you aspiring musicians to try.
Wiretap Studios is a powerful app for the Mac that allows you to record audio from any input device. After making the recording, you can organize your audio tracks and use its professional editing tools to fine-tune it to your heart’s content. For an app, it doesn’t come cheap at $540, but with a host of cool capabilities—from digitizing LPs to making ringtones and recording podcasts, to name just a few—this is a must-have for audiophiles.
Available on iTunes, www.ambrosiasw.com.
This free app is capable of recording from various sources. It also allows for detailed editing and exporting of files in an array of formats. Some reviewers have said that its production is very limited and not very user-friendly, but for cost-conscious musicians who just want to dabble, it’s perfect for testing the waters.
Available on iTunes, audacity.sourceforge.net.
This bargain basement app crams in a ton of awe-inspiring features, giving you plenty of bang for 78 bucks. The ability to record four tracks simultaneously on the iPad with just a USB input makes this an magnificent tool for bands looking to record their rehearsals or gigs. There is an option to upgrade to 16 and 24 tracks via an additional in-app purchase. Invest in a few mics and you’re well on your way to a decent home studio.
Available on iTunes, www.harmonicdog.com.
More from this week's cover story:
Amp it Up
Penny Zhou and Andrea Lo chronicle the highs and lows of Hong Kong’s live music scene, and go behind the scenes with the people making it happen.
Promoters and event organizers talk about their side of the scene.
We Got It Covered
Leanne Mirandilla meets the professional cover bands dutifully keeping the revelers on the dance floor.