I have been diagonosed with A.S.D.
You’ve heard of A.D.D.? Attention Deficit Disorder??? Well it appears I have Attention Surplus Disorder! (Actually the acronym would be a bit more fun if it was a ‘Syndrome’)… I got this ‘diagnosis’ from a client who, after looking over my shoulder while doing hours of intricate editing on his project said, “Man, you know some people have A.D.D?… You know the rest…
I have recently moved to the Low Country region of South Carolina, specifically the Hilton Head Island area to ply my skills here in a little more friendly climate. There's a lot of good music down here including a first rate jazz club, the Jazz Corner, a staple of the south end entertainment scene.
I’ve installed a no-compromise control room at my new place in Bluffton since soooo much of what we do these days is “inside the box” work. My excellent home computer setup and critical listening environment will allow me to do at home a large percentage of what I used to have to do in studios. There’s no substitute for a good room when you need to record lots of instruments, but for editing and mixing, my new setup sounds excellent and is set up for surround!
I am pursuing venues here and in Savannah that might allow guest engineers for when I need to record a large ensemble all at the same time.
Over the past ten years or so I’ve been recognizing how all media seems to be converging. It’s not just the music guys over here, and the video guys over there; now it’s all getting mixed up together. Throw the Internet, Youtube and files sharing sites into the mix and we now have the possibility to do collaboration over long distances; this is really getting fun! So I decided to expand the range of services I offer into some other areas beyond just studio recording by including video of concerts and club dates, and a variety of support services for other studios around the world that might not have the same software or level of expertise I have.
Photography courtesy of Mark Garrett.
The Early Years
The Early Years
When I started in the business around 1977 digital audio was still just a theory, a concept that was being developed in the laboratory. There were no home computers, storage amounts were a joke (I used to show my recording students a 1960s era photo of a 5 megabyte hard drive the size of two refrigerators lashed together being loaded into a freight plane through a double-wide door from a gigantic industrial forklift!).
I was studying music at the College-Conservatory in Cincinnati but had just purchased my first multitrack recorder, a very early Teac A-2340 with 7" reels with the "profits" from playing in the Cedar Point Hobo Band all summer and started recording recitals and demo tapes at school. People enjoyed working with me because I spoke the language of music and understood those things about music performance that you only get to know if you actually do it a lot, so I had a lot of return business, at least until they graduated!
I was able to get a hold of some microphones, a Peavey mixer with spring reverb, an eight-channel snake and was able to occasionally convince people to come over and do some studio-style jazz and pop recording providing me a chance to "practice" this sort of thing. As my college career progressed and the realities of looking towards a professional career as a low brass player being fairly bleak (how often do you need to hire a trombone player after all?) I started thinking about additional things to do professionally and by now recording was seeming like an attractive adjunct to performing, so I started being a little more earnest about learning the entire discipline of audio engineering. I found that the music library had 10 YEARS of back issues of Recording Engineer/Producer magazine in the stacks, so a couple times a week I'd go in there for a few hours and read every word on every page, even if I didn't really understand it all; and I didn't understand much at first. Occasionally there would be the "killer tip" or an article aimed at 4 and 8-track studios (24-track recorders were still only a few years old at this point) and they went into my arsenal of techniques I was building.
Somehow I just knew that the thing that could set me apart in the field of music recording would be my musicianship so rather than change my major I decided to finish my music degree and teach myself the recording business. There was no such thing as a multitrack music recording degree in those days; just "broadcasting" departments which were more about TV/Video and editing radio commercials than getting killer drum sounds.
I graduated CCM in 1981 and started to see what I could get done doing music performance, location and studio recording, and live sound.
Well as Zappa said, "Time, is of affliction" and as the industry changes with the ever speedier march of technological advances so must I. I've tried to be very on top of things regarding all the new things you can do these days to see what kinds of new services I can provide at hight quality and low cost.
“And what exactly do you do these days” you might be saying? Well I’m glad you asked…
I have relationships with three studios at the moment where I can schedule sessions:
I can do all kinds of on-site recording from a simple stereo mic setup for a classical recital all the way out to a 32+ mic multi-track live concert recording.
I have put together a compact but very good sounding live sound system that can cover up to 700 people outdoors and is suitable for all applications except perhaps the heaviest of the various genres of Metal.
Cost for the system is usually $250–$500 depending on the length of time you need me; a long multi-band festival thing would be closer to $1500.
I can also come mix your band at your gigs using your regular setup. I typically bring my box of superior microphones and perhaps some system processing. I usually charge $125 as long as I don’t have to get there super early.
I have been shooting video the past few years and can now do multi-camera shoots in widescreen High Definition with master quality audio. I love doing full-band shows and concerts; the thing that sets me apart on my video work is the sound. I never use the mics on the camera, UGH! After all, even though it’s a video it’s still about the music! Check out my video portfolio page to see what kinds of things I can do.
Prices are quoted per project depending on the combination of audio and video requirements. Full pricing is on the rates page.
I taught Music Technology at the University of Cincinnati from 2004–2015 but also can give private lessons on an ‘as needed’ basis. You can bring your computer to my place and we can listen there or I can work with you at your place giving mix tips and ideas for plug-in settings.
I am available to help you get your home setup together by streamlining your work flow, answering questions about your software and suggesting techniques to get the most out of your rig and your work environment. I’m not officially an ‘acoustician’ but I have had to solve many of these problems on my own and have a good working knowledge of what works and how to achieve it without spending a lot.
With the advent of high speed internet and it’s widespread availability there are some exciting possibilities for working on projects long distance. There are a number of different things that I do in this regard:
1) Editing sessions without leaving your house. Using a program called Skype and an audio broadcast program called Nicecast, I can edit your project while you watch from home via screen sharing. We can talk back and forth just like we were together in the control room and while the sound quality is not quite master quality on your end (it IS on my end) it’s plenty good enough to hear what’s going on. I recently helped an ice-skating coach in Chicago get her program edited and after it was all done, she said, “It was just like I was sitting next to you”.
2) Mixing. One of the things I do best is mixing. We can arrange for you to get me your raw tracks and I'll use my knowledge of music and engineering to get every possible musical benefit by using my advanced plug-ins and mixing techniques I've developed in the last three decades. I have a very good demo of what this sounds like on the the Stratus Studio site. Home vs. professional mixing demo…
3) Drum Sound Replacement. I have had a number of people do some home recordings and just didn’t get the kick, snare, or tom sounds they were looking for due to lack of microphone selection, placement, room acoustics or whatever. I have them transfer the tracks to me over the internet and do the replacement and ship them back and they drop right back into the project in perfect synch.
4) Vocal Editing and Pitch Correction. There are some amazing developments in this area in the last couple of years. Between the various plug-ins that I have (Melodyne) and the facilities in my main music recording programs (Digital Performer, LogicProX, ProTools). Several people who have recorded in project studios that use hardware recorders have had me get bounces of their tracks and to pitch correction and time alignment of vocal tracks. I have developed many techniques in this area and can do some truly amazing things that sound completely natural and are undetectable. Of course if you want me to make you sound like a robot I can do that too!