04/02/08 - So this should be fairly obvious, but I don't get to updating this site very often.. Too busy working to spend the time to keep it up... Sorry. I also reserve the right to completely change my mind about all of the following on a fairly regular basis...
If you've been browsing and seen a few photos and looked at the gear list, you've probably noticed that this studio is a little different. Not the same old cookie cutter gear. Rooms that have character visually and sonically. Quality versus quantity. You dig?
I've been playing in bands for nearly 15 years and recorded in plenty of studios. I wanted to do things a little differently when I decided to take the plunge and build my own. I wanted a place where you could be creative. Where the sound was great and not sterile.
I spent nearly two years building out the rooms, taking the time to isolate and soundproof, but also to find oak floorboards from a torn down church, lamps from a small shop in San Francisco made from metal and hemp, and pick colors and textures for the walls. None of that white drywall and grey industrial carpet going on here.
In the time (~six years) since I've been up and running I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of great artists. If a repeat customer is a sign of quality work, then I must be doing something right. Almost everyone keeps coming back to work here and send their friends.
I'm open to different tracking and mixing arrangements. I've done plenty of projects where some things are tracked on ADAT, a DAW or tape deck at the artists studio. Then we dump everything into the computer, then edit and overdub away. Drop it back onto your machine for more home work. Whatever. I'm flexible. Sometimes being in your own space can lead to better tracks.
I use Pro Tools. Alsihad, the borg whatever you want to call them. And not only that, I use Pro Tools LE! There is a method to the madness and here's the rationale. Pro Tools is an excellent audio editor. Nobody really disputes that. Where Digidesign make their money though is with their hardware, which, most people agree is not really that great (discounting the latest HD stuff, which the jury seems to be out on still).
To me, Pro Tools sounds great, if you use external AD/DA convertors, mic preamps and wordclock. Using the Digi 001 I am able to use 10 channels of external convertors and if I need more than 10 simultaneous recording tracks I can use 8 of the Digi convertors. Moving up (?) to TDM I could gain more simultaneous I/O, which I don't really need, timecode, which I also don't really need, and more plug-ins, which I generally don't like all that much and cost twice as much since they're TDM.
The other gotcha with PT seems to be with large mixes and internal summing (ie: Bounce to Disk). There are tons of discussions/arguments on the internet about this, but the general concencuss seems to be that the way that PT, and maybe all digital mixers combine the various tracks is less sonically pleasing than the way an analog summing device does. I tend to agree. Smaller, acoustic and vocal type projects sound just fine, but the more tracks the smaller the soundstage seems to become.
I use several approaches to answering this problem. First, use of the Cranesong dither and HEDD harmonics processor. These both add back in a lot of the extra sparkle and depth that seems to get lost. Second, if a mix warrants it I use the Studer board to sum all of the tracks together into a stereo mix. I am also looking into the use of a outboard passive summing device that my friend Justin from Roll Music Studio is working on. We are planning a shootout using variations on all of the above themes in the very near future.
The advantages of using Pro Tools though are many. For better or worse, it's a standard. There are always new hardware and software developments. There is no better multi-track editor. Don't get me wrong - I'd love to have a 24 track Studer, and a Neve 81XX. But, I'm a computer guy and am used to working that way. I like automation. I like using external mic pres and being able to pick and choose colors that way. I'm usually working on several projects at a time and total session recall is a must. Maintenance is always an issue in a studio and I can troubleshoot my setup quickly. I work fast - instant rewind, markers for the sections of a song, comping various takes into a final take, etc are all important to me and the way I work.