Your Music…on your terms
“Working with James on our past albums has been so much fun! His ear was always spot on during recording sessions, and he was more than accommodating with his schedule to give us just the sounds we wanted. James is awesome!!!”
“James was a pleasure to work with. We got things done quickly and thoroughly, and he really knows his stuff! He took us all the way from recording to mastering, and he did an amazing job across the board.”
“We just recorded our first album and we were so glad we chose James and JBS Recording to record and mix our album. Not everyone is so flexible and helpful, especially with groups that have questions regarding the process. James knows exactly what he’s doing and he even helped us through our physical and digital release processes. We couldn’t be happier with our choice! Thanks so much and we look forward to using you again! “
–Ben, The Bensonians
“We all had a wonderful time recording with James. He was very professional, flexible, and knew exactly how to attack recording an a cappella group (an art in and of itself). Our finished product was head over heels better than our previous records, and with a much lighter price tag. We can’t wait to work with James again.”
–Mark, The Bobolinks of Middlebury College
Thank you so much!!!! The tracks sound amazing, and we could not have asked for better results. I’m so excited to get this album out for everyone to hear! Thank you for your hard work, flexibility, and continued patience.
–The Decibelles, Dartmouth College
“Working with James on our album was the best decision we ever could have made. From day one, James was supportive and responsive with any questions or worries we had about the album process. During our recording sessions, James was patient and enjoyable to be around, but also demonstrated extreme knowledge about music and offered great advice on how to make our album the best it could possibly be. The album turned out better than we ever could’ve imagined and it really would not have been possible without his consistent support, attentiveness, and professionalism.”
–Jessie, The Shwiffs
“Working with James has been a pleasure and privilege. His efficiency and timeliness is topped only by the thoughtfulness and level of care he puts into each project, and the quality of his work. “
” …these are UNREAL!!!! They sound better than I ever imagined they would. You addressed my notes so well! We are so happy. Thank you SO much!”
“Recording our album with James was an all-around wonderful experience. Not only is he an expert at the technical aspects of the process, but he also respected our group’s style and direction, while providing helpful commentary and suggestions to aid us in creating the sound we strive for.”
–Naomi, The Vassar Devils
“Thank you so much for all of the work you put into producing our album. It is our first, and we are all extremely excited about listening to it and sharing it!”
“Thank you so much for all your help with our recording. We appreciate your patience and guidance and look forward to working with you again in the future.”
–Measure 4 Measure, Vassar College
“James provided the right balance between a friendly person that gets along well with college students and a professional who really wants your music to be of the highest quality it can be. His experiences as a singer and musician allowed him insight into our goals for creating a CD. He works hard and is very accessible.”
–Ryan, The Mountain Ayres of Middlebury College
“The Mamajamas truly admired the patience and technical knowledge James provided for meeting our recording goals at the right price. We sincerely value this gem of the recording world, who placed an album in our hands in no time! Thank you!”
–Patch, The Mamajamas of Middlebury College
“James was great to work with. He had an extremely flexible schedule and was more than willing to experiment with many different recording techniques to achieve the sound we were looking for. We couldn’t be happier with the way our CD turned out.”
–Jonathan, The Longfellows of Bowdoin College
“Working with James on our CD couldn’t have been a better experience. Not only was he extremely helpful with all musical aspects of the process, he was also always just a great guy to spend the day with. His musical expertise really came in handy at times of indecision or uncertainty–he even conducted for us when we needed it! He made the long days of recording that much more enjoyable. And the final mixed, mastered product…fantastic.”
–Seth, Quasimodal of Wesleyan University
“James was warm, friendly and welcoming and guided us through the recording process with infinite patience. We’re all a bit ambitious and prone to perfectionism; but James is as well, so each track received as much (or more) attention and care as we had hoped for. An extremely musical person, he gave us invaluable feedback every step of the way and tailored the entire approach to our group’s dynamic and sound. James exceeded our expectations and gave us a fabulous final product and even took care of all of the logistics for getting the CD mass-reproduced and shipped to us. He comes highly recommended by us!”
–The Night Owls, Vassar College
“Thank you so much for everything. These tracks all sound better than any of us imagined they could…”
–Anne, Drastic Measures of Skidmore College
“Our group struggled to find a recording studio that produced high quality sound without charging a ridiculous amount of money. We recorded on our own campus without having to travel, which was extremely convenient for our rather large group. We finished our CD in the following year within our limited budget, and couldn’t have been more pleased. James was dedicated to making the CD sound exactly as we wanted, and cared a great deal about our comments, input and suggestions. We will certainly be recording with him again!”
–Lena, Harmonic Motion of Brown University/RISD
“I just listened to the CD and it sounds fabulous! You did a great job, as usual. I just wanted to say thank you so, so much!”
–Caitlin, Onomatopoeia of Wesleyan University
“Working with James was such an awesome experience! He is completely professional and fun to work with as well. The fact that he can travel to your location is incredibly convenient and he was very efficient during the recording process. Our group couldn’t be happier with the work that James delivered and we definitely recommend him for any recording job in the future!”
–The Echoes, Lehigh University
We’ve worked with groups from:
Columbia Yale Princeton Brown Cornell Dartmouth Colgate Hamilton Wesleyan Williams Amherst Wellesley Bowdoin Middlebury MIT Vassar Franklin & Marshall Fairfield Connecticut College Boston College Smith Trinity Keene State Elizabethtown Muhlenberg Skidmore NYU GWU Brandeis JTS Barnard RISD Lehigh SUNY Geneseo SUNY Binghamton Loyola
Firecat has built a long career working with a cappella groups throughout the northeast US. We’ve recorded and mixed hundreds of songs! We’ve worked with new groups releasing their very first single, and we’ve worked with seasoned world class acts who have a long culture of recording; and we bring the same attention to detail and enthusiasm to every one of our projects. We’re not making records to win awards. We do this so you can have an album that sounds the way YOU dreamed it would, so you can have a piece of your college career that lasts forever, one that you’ll be proud to share with your fanbase, your friends, and your family.
No two groups are the same, and neither should be the “rules” to making an album. We offer a wide variety of approaches and options to fit any aesthetic and any budget. We’re not shoehorning your group into our vision of how an a cappella album should sound. We’re helping you to achieve your artistic goals, and make a record that truly sounds like you at your best.
We strive to fit any budget and, better yet, we will travel to you so you can record right on the comfort of your own campus. Listen for yourself. This is college a cappella re-imagined.
Shhhh…You can still record a great sounding album in a “not-so-great” sounding room
While you’re more than welcome to come record with us at our sonically stellar studio in the heart of NYC, we’re very happy to bring the best equipment and expertise right to you on campus. The truth is that over 90% of the groups we work with opt to record at school. We’ve recorded groups in everything from meticulously designed campus recording studios, to recital halls, to rehearsal rooms, to regular old classrooms, and (when necessary) even student housing. We know how to approach making music in these less-than-ideal spaces and how to compensate to ensure you still get a high quality result. We want to hear about your next recording project, so reach out anytime to see how we can help.
We’re here to help even before the recording starts and can advise you on anything from vocal arrangements, rehearsal techniques, room selection, scheduling, fund-raising, guide track (MIDI) preparation and much more (see also our Consulting Services), and we’ll help you make sure that you get the most out of our recording time together.
Even while on the road, we use the best microphones and preamps available to capture every nuance of the voice. We have the knowledge and experience to know how to record efficiently and capture precisely what we need to make a great record.
We’re happy to be here for the whole process and work with you at every step along the way, or jump in at any point where you might need us.
Quiet and pristine recordings
If you want the superior sonics and quieter, more controlled experience of recording in-studio, or if your group is based near NYC, come on down and record your music at Firecat’s SOHO Recording studio. We’re based in Lower Manhattan, in a busy and exciting neighborhood just a few blocks away from the NYU campus and Washington Square Park. Here, you’ll be treated to an even wider array of high quality microphones and preamps, and enhanced monitoring control so that each singer can precisely tailor his or her own mix while singing. We’re conveniently located near multiple subway lines so you can just show up, record your part, and leave. You can trust us to do all the rest! Contact us now to get more information about recording in-studio.
Let Us come To You
Most groups we work with opt for the ease of recording on campus. We’ll travel hundreds of miles so that you don’t have to, often saving the group significantly on expenses and lost time. Comfort elicits the best performances, and nothing is more comfortable than recording in a space that you know well. We’ll help you choose the best campus space for the recording process. We also know how to get the most out of a room, even one with severe limitations and a high noise floor, and we’ll do what we can to capture your best performance and keep the session moving swiftly. Shoot us a message to book a session or get more information about recording on campus.
One thing that separates Firecat from other a cappella recording services is our ability to custom tailor a recording process that fits your own group’s workflow and unique set of aesthetic goals. In addition to offering the typical voice by voice overdubbing pop a cappella process, we’re one of the few mobile studios that can offer a truly high end multi-track “live recording” solution. We have the wealth of equipment and expertise necessary to get great sounds and polished performances using this more organic recording method, thus opening up the opportunity for great sounding recordings to groups who wouldn’t be able to otherwise afford it.
Part by Part
This is our most common recording approach, especially for groups seeking the more slick and polished “studio” pop a cappella sound. Each voice part records independently (to a guide track), preserving the maximum potential for editing timing, tuning etc. Soloists, Vocal Percussion and any other special parts will record separately as well. You can expect to be able to record 2 songs in a day using this approach.
This is a great option for more traditional vocal groups and choirs, or those groups who are on a tight budget. Record your group, in the space of your choice, the way your group is most comfortable: singing together! We’ll still be able to edit your performance, combine the best portions of each take, and fully mix and master your songs from the multi-track recording projects. This approach enables the group to record a full album in a single day (10+ songs).
If you’re looking for a “best of both worlds” solution, this hybrid option might be your best bet. You can get the precision/polish and editability of the part by part approach (especially re: the solo and percussion), and the organic feel and energy of the live performance (especially re: the group “block” recording). The background will record together (with or without the assistance of a guide track) and any extra parts (solo, percussion, harmonies etc.) can overdub separately for maximum control and focus. You can expect to record 3-5 songs in a day with this approach.
Editing is an essential and often overlooked part of the process. Here, the music really starts to come together. Depending on the recording approach you chose and your artistic wishes for your project, editing can include anything from comp’ing (selecting the best takes and putting them all together), timing and tuning correction, entrance and cut-off tweaks, percussion sample selection and looping, arrangement adjustments etc. This is often the most time intensive part of the process but it’s also one that can most noticeably improve the end result.
Back at our studio in NYC…this is a fun and rewarding part of the process, where we can bring a finished balance and musicality to your songs. The process includes setting volumes, dynamic range, placement of each voice, and adding effects. Mixing can define the “sound” of a song, from a polished organic sounding performance to a more heavily manipulated and effects-laden pop production. Each mixing approach has its value, and we’ll do our best to honor your taste and artistic vision for your work.
Even if you didn’t record your album with Firecat, we’d be happy to help you mix it, so feel free to get in touch with a project description. You’re welcome to sit in with us at the studio, or work with us remotely sending feedback back and forth. Either way, we value your creative contributions and want you to be a part of the process!
Mastering is the final step in the process and the one in which all your songs come together to form a coherent whole. This includes any final EQ and compression adjustments, volume matching, smoothing transitions between songs and just generally making everything sound like it belongs together. We tend to master all of our own a cappella projects, but are happy to master outside projects as well. We can prepare masters for a variety of delivery formats, suitable for CD releases, high resolution lossless downloads, compressed digital formats (mp3, AAC etc.) and streaming platforms. Keep us posted if you have a project that needs mastering.
Here’s a great budget friendly option for those groups who want the experience of recording an album themselves but might need a little help and advice along the way!
Firecat offers a brand new DIY album production consulting service to help you out when you get stuck! We’ve been making a cappella albums for years, have had our fair share of issues when we were starting out, and we’re committed to passing along all we know so you can make your self-produced album sound as good as it possibly can!! We’re available for single phone consultations, Skype sessions, screen sharing or ongoing “subscription” membership pricing if you’ll want support throughout the whole creative process. We keep no secrets and no question is off limits! Services include:
- Tech Support (with options for Screen Sharing)
- Equipment Rental
- Pre-production support: Refining your arrangements, getting the most out of rehearsals, creating and preparing MIDI files, selecting the best equipment.
- Recording support: Recording Workflow, Room selection, Mic Setup, DAW selection and support etc.
- Editing Support: Basic and advanced techniques, tuning, looping etc.
- Mixing/Mastering Support
- Track review (send us your work at any point in the process and we’ll give you feedback and suggestions)
- Final Release Support: Rights licensing, delivery options, CD/vinyl production etc.
Just let us know how we can help!
A great recording starts with a great arrangement
It’s a noble pursuit to arrange your own songs and all that, but sometimes you need a professional to bring out the best in a song, harmonize it properly, ensure that it’s comfortable, singable, breathable(!) and interesting, and adapt it to highlight the unique assets of your group. We have a couple talented a cappella arrangers on the Firecat team and we’d love to work on your next song. Whether you’re looking for a creative reinvention of a popular song or a comfortably singable vocal facsimile of the original, we can help. Send any arrangement requests our way!
The Firecat team is passionate about a cappella and comprised of veteran engineers, singers, former music directors, and a RARB (Recorded A Cappella Review Board) member all committed to making your next a cappella project a success! Click here to learn more about our engineers: