Archive for the ‘Recovery High School’ Category

Northshore Recovery High School Studio Assembly

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Here are some photos from the first day of assembly of the studio. We are using temporary desks; mixing desk and racks are on their way. So far we have no acoustic treatment and no functioning isolation rooms. We still don’t have painted walls!

Sekla Am unpacking boxes in the space after “The Wall” has gone up.

More unpacking…

Both the audio and video monitors are on the desk and ready to go!

Assembling mic stands.

Sekla tests the mixer for the first time! The studio has been christened!

Designing a Teaching Studio for the Northshore Recovery High School

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Almost a year ago I was introduced to Michelle Lipinski, the director for the Northshore Recovery High School. One of the folks working at the school knew Woody Giessmann from Right Turn and Woody recommended that I might be a good guy for the job of designing and building a recording studio for the school. I have built 3 studios for myself and helped put together a bunch of others. I have done a lot of remodeling and design work, so recording studio construction really floats my boat!

Michelle won a grant to build the studio and she had several rooms at the school that she could convert into studio spaces. My task was to design a space that didn’t break any of the many rules for altering the building, that worked as a teaching studio, and had some security to keep the neighbor-hoods from wanting to break in and hurt themselves with police batons. There were a bunch of choices of spaces, but we settled on the existing computer lab for both security and ease-of-conversion reasons. This is what the space looked like last Fall:

Some of the things that are really nice about this space are that there are already rooms attached that are separated by glass, so making isolation rooms will be much easier. The room has tall ceilings and there a lot of space to move around in. The bank of windows makes for a lot of natural light which is (for me at least) MUCH more conducive to creativity than sitting under the flicker and buzz of the banks of fluorescents.

Due to the fact that the school is part of a public school system, I had to put together 3 different quotes from 3 different vendors for all of the equipment. As it turns out, this is much harder than it should be. The first problem is that not all vendors stock the same equipment, so you can’t really compare the price of one piece of gear to another. I found that I would have to price out similar pieces of equipment from different manufacturers, or find pricing from different vendors all together.

I got quotes from Guitar Center Pro Audio (Chaz from the Boston store), from Sweetwater, from Parson’s Audio and some pricing from Full Compass. The only vendor that could get all of the equipment that I wanted was Guitar Center, but initially they didn’t have the best price for everything (just most things.) Fortunately, they matched all of the prices and Chaz really took care of us. Guitar Center turned out to be the best as far as price went and Chaz is quite knowledgeable. Unfortunately he is drastically over worked and super busy. There aren’t a ton of folks at Guitar Center that know very much, so I found that I pretty much had to work with Chaz or the other managers of the departments.

I decided to go with a studio based around a Dell XPS super-swoopy computer and Cakewalk’s Sonar. The school’s tech consultant already had a good relationship with Dell and he was able to take care of ordering the computer and peripherals. The other equipment, software and hardware was my responsibility. The main components of the studio were as follows:

  1. M-Audio’s Delta 1010: a PCI based audio interface with great stable drivers and solid workmanship. I used these in my personal studio for years and I have always been really happy with the drivers and the stability of the unit. It works with all the software platforms out their and with Pro Tools.
  2. Mackie Onyx 1640. This is a premium version of the 1604 VLZ. It has much nicer pre-amps and EQ, longer faders and a much better feel. Another advantage is that all of the channels have direct-out via D-Sub to TRS fans.
  3. Mackie HR-824 Studio Monitors. These are my favorite monitors for under $2000. They sound great and are flexible for set-ups in many locations. They have built in power amps tailored perfectly for the speakers. The imaging is great and they have plenty of low-end for modern production.
  4. dbx 1066’s. My favorite mid-price compressors. Very flexible and transparent, the 1066 has a sidechain, expander and limiter built in. They work great as dual mono and in stereo link mode. I have been really happy with their performance and they are very common in lots of studios.
  5. Sonar Producer 6.2. I believe that Sonar is the best DAW available today. It has a suite of great sounding plug-ins, many software synths and drum modules, full looping tools, the best MIDI implementation around and fully customizable workspace.
  6. FL Studio Producer (Fruity Loops). Many of my fellow pro’s think that this software is a toy. It’s actually much more powerful than Reason and it works with VST and DirectX plug-ins. It has an amazing built in Vocoder and tons of capability for mixing and sound design. It can run as a Rewired app inside of Sonar. It is also one of the easiest software applications to learn and get started with that’s out there. I feel like it’s an ideal tool for teaching audio, sound design and mixing.
  7. Sony’s Sound Forge and CD Architect. This is the easiest to use audio editor out there and they actual have tech support. Steinberger’s WaveLab is great unless anything goes wrong and then you are completely out of luck. I gave up on WaveLab after spening about $600 for a full version. I didn’t upgrade because they completely suck on customer support. Sound Forge with CD Architect costs about HALF what WaveLab cost by itself. I did like Sonic Foundry a lot before Sony bought them, but they haven’t seemed to go down the tubes! Hurrah!
  8. Rode NT-2A, NT-5 Matched pair. Rode is an Australian mic company that I have worked with since 1997 when I bought the original NT-2. These are great mics and they are priced very competitively. These guys are flexible and sound great. The NT-2A will be our main vocal microphone and we will use the NT-5 both with omni and cardioid capsules.
  9. Sennheiser MD-421, Electro Voice RE-20, AKG D-112, Shure SM58, Shure SM57. These are THE mics to have to start a studio. Every single one of these is a classic.