Studio B is an “in the box” recording and production facility located in Boston, Massachusetts. Built in the basement of his home, Studio B is the example of how a home studio can get that professional studio sound.
Steinberg Cubase 7: Each Digital Audio Workstation requires software to operate. My personal preference is Cubase 7. Preference is much like everything else. This is the one I settled on in the early days because it was the best one I could afford at the time. ProTools did not offer their M-powered products so, was very expensive at the time. I sampled demos of other products but never felt comfortable with the downtime it would take. There’s not enough hours in the day as it is, to have to slow down production to learn a new program, especially when the results were good, was not really an option.
Cubase has a large amount of sampled instruments included that can be played with a midi keyboard. The samples are of a high quality, and gives the user access to drums, orchestral instruments without disturbing neighbours and paying/co-ordinating studio musicians to play for them.
Last, but not least, built into Cubase 7 are stock effects and channel strip that allows a user to enhance and manipulate each track so it will fit the mix and create the right feelings. Compressors, delays, reverbs, guitar FX, you name it, it has it covered.
RME Babyface A very important component of an in the box studio, is how you get sound in and out of the computer. This means hooking up guitars, microphones, and other live instruments into the computer, and how the sound gets out (speakers and headphones). I settled on the RME Babyface as the interface to my computer based on their solid reputation. It was another potential great bang for the buck purchase that was to eliminate some of the performance issue I had. It has the ability to monitor with reverb which was great for vocals. If I’m methodical in my productions, I enjoy low latency monitoring while using a virtual amp simulator like Guitar Rig 5 (Part of Komplete 8 and stand-alone) so for the most part, I was able to push my recordings further. There’s even a guitar AMP plug-in included in Cubase 7.
JBL LSR2325 Powered Speakers: What you are hearing in a mixing and mastering environment is extremely important. The goal is to have a perfectly neutral room, with speakers that do not influence the sound. Surprisingly, most commercial speakers, and headphones for that matter, manipulate the sound much like having treble and bass EQ in your car. It’s built in as part of their design. The goal in a studio is to get a set of speakers with a very flat response, then make your music sound good on this type of system, so that when it’s played through any commercial system or smartphone speaker, it will always sound good. It is also very true that an engineer can learn their speakers. I personally know my car speakers very well. I always make a point of listening to mixes through them before releasing anything. The JBL speakers were the best product I could find based on reviews and listening tests, in the upper entry level price range.
AudioMute Absorption Sheets: All the best studios have one thing in common, they are very quite. Home studios, in particular, are prone to all sorts of different noise. I tried egg cartons, and packing foam, but the best product I ever purchased was from AudioMute. They are much like a moving blanket, but purposely design the stop room echo (reverb, reflections) and minimize noise travel in and out of the room. The best feature is their ability to stop the echo in a room. The room gets noticeably quieter when they go up. With in the box recording, reverb is added to the sound to give it space after the fact, so the dryer the sound coming in, the better the reverb we add later sounds.
James Tyler Variax: I originally purchased an original Variax 600 a year or two after they came out. With any home studio, there is always a budget to get them started. I was looking at guitars and what is truly unique about this guitar, is its ability to imitate the sound of other guitars. The electric guitar models were more than acceptable on the original version, and the new James Tyler versions go 10 times beyond that, into the “so good you can’t tell category”. If you want to have the selection of 25 different guitars, for the cost of 1 good one, this is for you. Definitely get the newer versions, and if you buy the Korean made, make sure you play it before you buy it. You will find a good one somewhere and you’ll love every minute of this guitar.
Ovation 6-string: The one thing that is hit and miss on the James Tyler Variax is the realism of a live acoustic guitar. I purchased this guitar almost 20 years ago, and it sounds just as good as the day I bought it. I’d go as far as saying that 80% of the guitars you hear on tracks recorded at Studio B, are using this guitar. It’s earthy when needed, and bright enough to cut through a mix with little manipulation when needed.
Alicia’s Key Piano: Most of the music I create has some form of piano track on it. It’s part of my sound. When I heard that Alicia Key’s had her piano sampled by Native Instruments, and used it on her last album, I listened to the album and was one of the first people to purchase this virtual piano. It’s very flexible in the different sounds you can create so I’ve rarely found an occasion where I could not make it fit in the mix.
Komplete 8: Part of Komplete 8, is a huge selection of virtual instruments that I find very useful. Studio Drummer, is a very good sounding virtual drum instrument that I use often, as well as a great sounding electric bass. Between Kontact (included in the product) and HalionONE included in Cubase, any sound or texture you need to create, are at your finger tips
UAD-2 Solo: One of the things that every home studio runs into is the availability to horsepower to run everything you want to run. Recording with live plug-ins running from the host computer is sometimes impossible when you mix along the way. UAD-2 is a special off-computer processor that runs its own versions of great sounding plug-ins, and runs them without impacting computer performance. They make great sounding, legendary hardware, and do a super job at emulating these devices in software. I have a very old version of these and it definitely has given me more room to create in my projects.
UAD Apollo Quad Soundcard: This is the only item on my wish list today. This device is an upgraded version of the UAD-2 Solo card that I have, mixed with a soundcard that would replace my RME Babyface. The added benefit with this device is that I can record with plug-ins (Compressors, EQ, Guitar Amps, etc…) without using my computer, and ensuring that I record the best possible sound. With productions getting larger and larger, I am constantly looking for ways to free up processing power so I can get more from my mixes.
The Apollo, would ensure that regardless of my computer settings, I’ll be able to record with a sound that invokes feeling and expression. Today, I spend 20 minutes freezing tracks or rebooting my computer to make sure nothing gets in the way of a perfect take, and things still do. This device more than quadruples my current ability to process tracks, and if i can purchase it by March 30, 2013, comes with some free software that’s worth almost $1000 itself which will lend to the overall sound quality.
Support an Independent Artist:
The average cost to produce one song in a semi to pro recording studio is around $2500. That means to complete a 10 track album, it would cost upwards of $25,000 just to record the song. This does not get the tracks mastered or any distribution and promotional materials. I’m not asking for $25,000 to record an album, what I’m asking for, is your support to empower me to create music for a fraction of the cost, for a lifetime to come. I appreciate any support.
My current needs are the Apollo Quad on my wish list, and funds to master my finished recording. Proper mastering allows all songs to flow from one to the other without having to adjust your volume knob for each song. It also results in that “big” radio sound that everyone is after. As a rule, it is virtually impossible to master your own material. I do it for my demo tracks to give myself a view of what it might sound like, but there is nothing like a true mastering professional, with the right tools, and a custom room to complete this final step in the creation process. Mastering cost $50-100 per song at a good studio.
I appreciate all my current support.