Building a Home Studio On a Budget

[Editors Note: This article and infographic were compiled by Jonathan Biran of Catz Audio, an online pro audio magazine. Readers can head over to our “Complete Home Studio Guide” for more resources on getting theirs set up!]


The field of audio engineering can be intimidating. The countless shiny buttons, the myriad of knobs and meters, the guy behind the mixing desk that knows more than anyone else in the room…describing this as ”intimidating” may be an understatement. Walking into the realm of audio for the first time is wondrous and frightening.

Regardless of how capable you are, audio engineering will challenge you – TuneCore was right in advising to “take a breath.” There’s much to consider when entering the audio field.

We at CatzAudio curated a little infographic that addresses the common barriers-to-entry of audio. It covers the nitty-gritty details of what you must have to get started. We think you’ll find that it’s actually easy to build a solid recording rig!

The infographic covers common questions asked about needed hardware and software. Questions like “what headphones should I buy?” and “what microphone is best?” are all discussed. Hopefully, your search for the best entry-level recording gear can end here.

Here is what we cover:

– What you need in a recording interface.

– A list of DAWs you can start with.

– What to look for in a microphone.

– The most bang for your buck when it comes to headphones and monitors.

– Necessary accessories needed to record a killer track.

We are lucky to live in a digital age. It’s never been easier to jump into the recording field. Instead of spending thousands of dollars tracking in a studio, you can carry a fully functional studio in your backpack for a mere fraction of the price!

building a home studio on a budget infographic


How To Make Your Vocal Tracks POP

[Editors Note: This blog was written by our friends at Soundfly – learn more about their online course series and how you can get a discount at the bottom of this article!]


These days, producing your own demos essentially means the same thing as making a fully produced record of your song. It’s expected that your demo will sound full, warm, and professional, and your vocal performance has to POP to grab the interest of potential labels, bandmates, booking agents, or whomever you might be trying to impress.

If you choose to sing on your own tracks, or work with a vocalist in a band, and don’t know how to make them pop like your favorite records, it can be tough to know where to start. Soundfly’s new online course series, Faders Up I: Modern Mix Techniques and Faders Up II: Advanced Mix Techniques, is taught by today’s top sound engineers, who will help you get the professional sound you’re looking for in just six weeks. (Scroll to the bottom of this article for a special discount code!)

The next session starts on February 6, 2018, but for now, here are a few tried-and-true methods for getting your vocal tracks to sit confidently in your productions.


If you’re just starting to record and process your own vocals for the first time, you might not have a $15,000 vintage Neumann microphone at the ready. Perhaps you’re working with a stage mic like an SM58, or a USB mic like the Yeti from Blue Microphones. But even if you’ve saved up to rent something nice, your voice and the mic can’t do all the work.

Equalization (EQ) is an incredibly powerful tool, and often a necessary one to really make your vocal track pop. Here are a few common moves I make frequently when processing vocals:

1. High-pass filter. Sometimes also called a low-cut filter, this gets all the muddy background noise out of your vocal.

Plosives from sounds like Ps and Bs can send an exorbitant amount of air into the microphone and cause a low-end rumble below 100 Hz. Sometimes noise from the power in a building can create a buzz around 50 or 60 Hz.

You can fix a lot of this problem by cutting out the low end! Try a high pass around 100–150 Hz.

Generally, you can get away with a slightly higher cut for female vocalists, whereas you don’t want to kill a male vocalist’s lowest notes. Be sure to listen for the lowest note in your song and make sure you’re not totally gutting it!

2. High boost for “air.” A common characteristic of high-quality microphones is a boost in the 6–10 kHz range. This adds a pleasant “airiness” to a vocal that really grabs the ear and adds clarity.

If your mic doesn’t achieve this for you, or you want to over-emphasize this effect, consider giving your vocal a small bell-curve boost around 6 kHz.

3. Cut the “honk.” Sometimes your vocal might pop out a little more than desirable, somewhere in the 2–5 kHz range. This is the area most responsible for achieving intelligibility of the human voice, but sometimes we end up with moments of too much intelligibility.

If you take an EQ scalpel to the offending frequency area and carve this area precisely, you make room to boost the whole vocal and help it stand out even more. (Note: This is an effect perhaps best achieved using a multi-band compressor to isolate the frequency range, so if you have something like that available to you, use it!)


In the realm of pop and electronic music production, I cannot think of a single time I didn’t use at least a little bit of compression on every vocal track in my mixes.

Compression, even in the most acoustic of settings, is involved in some degree of processing the vocal at one or several stages.

Let’s assume for now that you’re not working with a hardware compressor in between your mic and your interface — so you’re probably compressing after you’ve recorded. Here are a few notes for getting the most out of your compressor.

1. Before you compress, automate! Automation is a severely underused and often underappreciated ally in making vocals and instruments pop in a production. If there’s an obvious offending peak in volume in your vocal track, try to even it out before you stick a compressor on and try to get it to do the work for you.

Note that if you do this, you might want to “bounce in place” your automated track. Otherwise, your channel strip’s compressor will affect the volume before the automation, which defeats the whole purpose.

2. Less is more. Compression is a good way to give your vocal take consistency and add a nice, warm color to it. However, it’s very easy to go overboard with it, when the time comes.

It can be tempting to work with the built-in presets of a compressor, but frequently those will squash your vocal way more than what you’d actually want. That said, though, Logic’s initial settings are actually a pretty good starting point:

  1. A small or medium ratio, something like 2:1 or 3:1
  2. A quick (but not instant) attack time, around 10–15 ms
  3. A moderate release time, around 50–60 ms

After that, it’s about adjusting the threshold until you achieve the desired gain reduction. Start subtle, and try to keep things at or below 6 dB of gain reduction. Any more than that, and your track might start to sound flat and lifeless.

3. Double it up! Parallel compression is the technique of sending your vocal track to a second location (via a send or bus), and compressing only the duplicated signal, usually in an extreme way.

You can gain a lot of presence and “body” by compressing a vocal signal really hard, but it’ll dull the top end and make it feel lifeless and overtly aggressive. Instead, if you compress a copy of the signal really heavily, and mix only a little bit in, you get some of the body and presence without killing your vocal performance.

The settings for the parallel compressor can be pretty extreme. Keeping everything else the same, raise your ratio to somewhere between 10:1 and 20:1, and then lower your threshold until you achieve gain reduction in the 15–20 dB range.

That’s a punishing crush, but mixed in tastefully, it can add a lot of pop to the vocal!


These days, the use of reverb on vocal tracks is on a bit of a downward trend overall. Dry vocals are great for the intimate and/or aggressive sound of rap tracks and alternative rock, but might not work for bigger pop productions or folk numbers. Here’s a reliable way to create a larger-than-life space for your vocal.

1. Set the scene with sends. Set up two separate sends for your vocal. One will go to a mono, plate-style reverb that gives the vocal some general resonance, and helps the vocal sit into a space with the other instrument(s) in the track. The other will be a large and wide hall verb to give your vocal bravado and gravitas.

2. Make it tight. Your first vocal reverb, the plate verb, is more musical in function. It’s about creating sheen and a coherence with the band or production than about defining a “space” that the vocal is in.

Some good starter settings for a plate reverb are a decay time around 1–2 seconds, with a short predelay, around 30–50 ms.

Be sure to filter out some of the low end “mud” from your reverbs! You don’t want the reverberated signal muddying up your lead vocal sound. A high-pass filter in the 200 Hz range is a good place to start. Follow that up with a low shelf that reduces the low end below 600 Hz or so, by as much as necessary to clean things up.

Some reverbs, like the UAD EMT 140 pictured above, will have built-in filters and shelves for exactly these purposes, but you can achieve these same results with a simple EQ plugin or two.

3. Make it huge. Your vocal wasn’t recorded in a void, and you probably don’t want to depict it in a void, either. A great way to make your vocal sound larger than life is to create a larger-than-life space for it to resonate in! A wide hall reverb is a great space to illustrate this.

A good setting for this is somewhere between 3–8 seconds of decay time (we’re talking Grand Canyon-sized space), but obviously size your space to taste. Also, make sure that you give the reverb some predelay, on the order of 60–100 ms. Your vocal doesn’t leave the mouth and instantly hit the other side of a canyon!

Since these reflections are much farther away, you’ll want to take some high end out of the signal. Again, many reverbs will have some built-in shelving options available, but you can always take away more through EQ, if need be.

Just remember that, like with much of this processing, less is more. Always be sure to listen to your spacial effects in headphones as well as speakers, to make sure you’re truly hearing the space you’re creating, and not just the sound of the room you’re in.


When it comes to getting a “full” and “big” vocal sound, nothing quite gets the job done like simply laying down a second take and mixing it in, also known as doubling. In modern pop production, it’s not uncommon for a chorus part to have two, three, four, five, or more doubles of the main vocal part, just to thicken up the sound.

For a new vocalist, replicating an exact performance as closely as possible can seem daunting, if not impossible. However, some of the quirks and intricacies of each individual take, stacked together, can make a lead vocal that much more interesting, and can smooth out any individual mistakes or variations.

If you’re up for the challenge (and I highly recommend you give it a try!), here are a few suggestions for configuring doublings in a way that builds up your lead vocal into a fuller sound.

  1. The classic double. Take your lead and sing it twice. Run both vocals straight up the middle, in mono, or try just barely widening them by 5–10%, one in each direction.
  2. The wide triple. Record your lead three times. Pick a favorite and stick that in the middle. Pan the other two hard left and hard right, respectively, and turn those doublings down in the mix.
  3. The whisper triple. Similar to the wide triple, but the second and third takes are the lead performance “whispered” and mixed low in both ears. Great for achieving an ASMR effect, if that’s what you’re going for. This can also be used in conjunction with the wide triple.
  4. The unbound quartet (or quintet, etc.). Record four or more leads, and space them out evenly across the stereo spectrum.
  5. The crunchy chorus. Record three or more “loose” doubles, each with a slightly different timbral approach, and pan them all within 5–10% of center. This is great for creating a chorus or church choir effect.

These are just a few of the techniques with which I’ve found success. Bring layered harmonies into the fold, and you can really go crazy with stacking up a huge vocal sound!

Beware of the pitfalls

If you do choose to record and produce real doubles, there are a few pitfalls to be aware of to get the tightest, fullest sound.

1. Watch out for hard consonants. Sounds at the end of words with a lot of high end, like Ts and Ks, can sound really messy if they aren’t perfectly tight. While it’s possible to manipulate just the very end of a sound to perfectly align with the main lead, it’s often better to have only the lead take care of these sounds. The same thing goes for the front of sounds, including breaths.

When recording the doubles, try to get softer end consonants, or edit them out altogether in your DAW.

2. Don’t be afraid to cut things out. It’s easy to think that merely doubling the entire lead is the right idea, and that’s that. If you’re really digging the full sound you get from your two or more solid leads, voiced fully together, great! But also consider:

  1. High- and/or low-passing your double(s)
  2. Putting your double(s) through a 100% reverb, and mixing to taste
  3. Hard-compressing your doubles only, to emulate parallel compression
  4. Only keeping the doubles on lyrics or moments of great importance
  5. Cut out all the extra noise and empty content of the audio waveforms, when the double isn’t singing

Get creative with your doublings, and only take what you want from them!

3. Less is more. Once again, it’s important to recognize whether you’re adding something to the mix because it’s important, or because you just think it should sound better if you do. Be honest with yourself — are there too many doubles? Do you need a double at all, or is it just muddying up your track?

Lastly, if you’re less comfortable with recreating a perfect lead vocal performance, here are a few tips and techniques for approximating a lead vocal doubling effect.

  1. The chorus effect. This kind of effect will double your vocal track inside a plugin, giving it a slight pitch shift and/or modulation over time, and also mess very slightly with the timing of the original and the doubling. There are lots of different options for a plugin like this, such as Soundtoys’ Microshift plugin.
  2. Slap it. Use a slapback delay to create a quick and quickly decaying doubling effect. Your delay time should be extremely short, on the order of 10–30 ms (with a tiny bit of predelay to separate it from the lead), with a low feedback to avoid a ringing, modulated type of sound.
  3. Fake it. You can also create a chorus plugin type effect manually. Just copy your lead, use a pitch shifting tool to alter it up or down by somewhere around 5 cents, and slightly delay the timing of the double. Pan to taste. You can only get away with a couple of these, at most!

The world of vocal production is vast, and opinions vary widely between producers, genres, and generations about what a “correct” vocal production technique looks like. The truth is that whatever sounds good to you will probably sound good to someone else, but you won’t know until you try. So get experimenting, and make some music!

Gain more control over your next mix. Preview Soundfly’s Faders Up course series, Modern Mix Techniques and Advanced Mix Techniques, for free today! Both courses are taught by today’s leading sound engineers, and come with six weeks of personal mentorship and mix feedback from an expert who works in the field.

You’ll gain hands-on experience with modern mixing techniques such as EQ, compression, level and pan setting, digital signal processing, FX sends, and more. If you’d like to reserve a spot in the next session, use the promo code TUNECORE at checkout to get 25% off (that’s $125!).

Mix Buss Compression Made Easy!

[Author: Scott Wiggins *]  

How many of you are completely terrified of doing anything to the mix buss, aka “stereo buss” “2 buss”?

It is real easy to mess up an entire mix with too much processing, in particular, mix buss compression.

Over the years of searching the internet creeping on my favorite mixers (Jaquire King, Dave Pensado, Chris Lord Alge, and many more) mix buss compression settings I’ve found that a little goes a long way.

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Mix Buss Compression Glue

Have you ever heard the term “glue” in a conversation of recording and mixing?

No, I’m not talking about the kind you used to put on your hands in elementary so you could peel it off when it dried.

Am I the only one who did that?

I’m talking about the way compression can make tracks seem like they fit together a little better.

When set up correctly it makes the whole song feel like it’s glued together in the subtle ways which gives it a nice musical polished cohesive sound.

The goal with mix buss compression would be to just tame any transients that may spike up in volume just a little too much, and then bring the overall volume up of the rest of the tracks juuuuuust a bit.

We’re just trying to add a little more energy and fullness to the mix.

mix buss compression

Mix Buss Compression Settings

The Attack:

The attack setting you use for mix buss compression is important just like using a compressor on any other track.

With a faster attack the compressor will clamp down sooner on the transients that tend to be a little louder than the rest of the audio coming through.

A slower attack will wait milliseconds before it clamps down on the audio and starts compressing.

I tend to use a faster attack, BUT I’m not crushing those transients with a ton of compression, so I still keep the dynamics in my mix.

If I found I was killing the transients too much and there was no excitement in my mix, I would probably make it a slower attack setting.


I tend to use a medium to fast release setting.

I’ve heard a lot of famous mixers say they set the release with the tempo of the song.

So they would watch the gain reduction needle and have it release on beat with the song.

I try my best to use this method.


I use a really small ratio of around 1.5 to 1.

This means that once my audio passes the threshold I’ve set that there is very little compression happening to that audio.

It’s just a little bit. I’m not trying to squash the life out of it.

You can experiment with a little bit higher of a ratio, but know that the lower the ratio the less compression (more dynamics), and the higher the ratio the more compression (less dynamics).


I dial the threshold to where I’m only getting about 1 to 3 dbs of gain reduction on the peaks of the audio.

I tend to keep it on the lower side of 1 to 2 dbs of gain reduction.

You just want to kiss the needle. You don’t want to have to much mix bus compression happening.

Remember, we are going for a subtle “glue” like affect.

Make up Gain:

Just like on any other compressor, I turn the make up gain to math the amount of gain reduction happening.

Be careful here. Don’t turn it up to loud and fool yourself that you like the result just because it’s louder.

Do your best to math the input volume with the output volume of the compressor.

We tend to think louder is better when it’s not really better, it’s just louder.

I’ve shot a video tutorial below to show all of this in action on a mix i’ve started. Check it out!


Mix buss compression is a great way to add a little bit of excitement and glue to your mix.

Some people like to slap it on the master buss AFTER they have mixed it (Ryan West who’s credits are Jay-Z, Eminem, Kid Cudi, Maroon 5, T.I, Rihanna and Kanye West)

And some engineers like to slap a little bit of compression on in the beginning and mix through it.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way when it comes to when to put it on.

The key is to be subtle and don’t kill a good mix with too much mix buss compression.

Use your ears like always. They are your biggest weapons.

Good luck and happy mixing!

If you want to learn the 1st step to a successful mix even before you think about adding mix buss compression, check this post out about “The Static Mix”.

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[Editors Note: This is blog was written by Scott Wiggins and it originally appeared on his site, The Recording Solution, which is dedicated to helping producers, engineers and artists make better music from their home studios.]

Make Your Guitars LOUD!!!

[Author: Chris Gilroy *]  
I love guitars. Something about them excites all my nerve endings. From softly picked acoustics to a mountain of amps at full blast. These nuanced instruments can be tricky to record. Luckily for you, I’m setting up for a session right now where we will be tracking distorted guitars for the next 3 days. Let’s talk a bit about getting some of the best results you can while recording and the things I will be doing for this session.

Before you even get into the studio to shred, find a few different examples of recordings where you, the artist, producer, or whoever is in charge of the project, are inspired by for this session. Guy Picciotto of Fugazi has a very different tone then Matt Pike of Sleep/High on Fire. Talk to your engineer about how these different sounds speak to you and how they were achieved. What amps, guitars, pedals, etc etc were used for tracking.

If you are engineering, you need to learn the different sounds between guitars. Why grab a Fender Stratocaster over a Telecaster? What’s the draw of a hollow body guitar? Each instrument sounds very different. Then there are amps! A Fender Deluxe sounds AMAZING when cranked, but very different from a Marshall JCM50. It is a never ending task for us to learn these differences. I’m not a guitarist (my mind was simpler and could only handle smashing two pieces of wood against a drum) so every session I work on I make sure we try a few amps and guitars. Mostly so we can make sure that we have a sound we are happy with in the room, but partially so I can listen to different combinations of instruments and amps, learning it and internalizing it.

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Luckily I am fortunate enough to work in a place that has a bunch of great sounding amps. When you turn the gain till the pre amp starts to clip, we reach a magical land. Which is emulated through so many pedals. To get geeky for a second, a lot of distortion pedals are trying to recreate the sound of tube amps distorting. Housed in much smaller and cheaper enclosures they are create to throw a few flavors in your bag for a gig.

But these boxes use transistors and diodes to compress and clip your sound, which will flatten your dynamics and take a ton of life out of your guitar. Live they totally rule, but if you are in the studio and have a Marshall Bluesbreaker, you probably also don’t need that OCD pedal on. Turn up the amp, and rock out.

A hard balancing act while tracking distorted guitars is not OVER distorting. When we play live we have the benefit of watching the player’s hands on the instrument. We don’t get that same luxury through a recording. Our guitar sound must be clear enough to make out all the notes and harmonies played. For listening example, blink-182’s Enema of the State is laden with giant and punchy sounding guitars that we hear everything Tom DeLonge is playing. Back a few albums to Cheshire Cat, it is much more difficult to hear exactly what he is playing. His sound is muddied and a bit too crunchy to full hear everything. When we are tracking back down the amount of distortion a little less then when we play live. The clarity will come through but we still have the amp growl.

Kurt Ballou of Converge is a master at getting an insanely aggressive sound while still maintaining note clarity. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE horribly recorded black metal records. But after a short period of time my ears get fatigued because the guitars basically almost white noise (which then I wonder why I didn’t put on a Merzbow record).

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When I double guitars I first make sure I know why we are doubling. Recently I finished mixing the new Nihiloceros EP. I wash’t involved in tracking, so during mixing I heard sections that I wanted a slight energy boost like after a bridge into the final chorus of a song. To solve this we tracked a meatier guitar sound to blend in slightly behind the rest of the guitar assault. Mixed in you can’t quite tell that there is another guitar, it just feels like the part swells a little more.

For another record, a new band from Philadelphia called Puriden, we wanted to have a massive wall of hard panned guitars. They had recorded an SG through a Vox AC30 as the main guitar. Since the guitarist has that rig as his tone, we didn’t want to lose the Vox sound so we doubled using the same amp and a Telecaster. This gave us enough sonic difference to know that we had two guitars, but have no phasing issues between the two.

Steve Albini spoke about this very eloquently in Mix with the Masters. In short, if you have a different initial sound source with a different timbre you decrease the chances of having phase issues. Even if it is a different amp, mic, etc, the initial harmonic character is the same. For the most clarity and less phase related issues down the line change your instrument. If you have the ability then change your whole rig but at the very least try a different guitar.

Micing amps is a whole other beast. This section alone can be a whole book so I will only briefly gloss over some ideas here. Or buy me a beer at a show and we can chat all night.

The placement of an amp in the room affects your sound dramatically. Having an open back amp against a wall will increase the amount of low frequencies in your sound. Having a small amp on the floor will increase first order reflections. Is the room large and live (reverberant) or tight and dry? Often the room sound will slip into your mics and affect your recordings. Speaking of mics, each type of mic responds differently and adds or subtracts to our sound.

The SM57, love it or hate it, will always be around and serve it’s duties wonderfully. Learn it and how to use it. Ribbon mics, like the Royer R-121, will add extra lower mids to your sound and often tame harshness. Condenser mics also sound incredible on amps. I love the sound of a Schoeps M22 (tube small diaphragm) on amps like a Fender Deluxe. Or a Soyuz 017 slays on guitar amps, as do so many other large diaphragm options.

Be mindful that each mic has a limit of how loud it can handle. If you have a Marshall Plexi at full blast some mics won’t be happy and give you thinner or distorted tones. You could also damage the microphone, like the sensitive ribbon mics, rendering them into very expensive door stops.

Placement of the microphone on the cabinet has a big change of sound. The more on the center of speaker cone you get, the brighter a sound you capture. As you move off axis, the sound gets a little darker, or warmer. How far or close your mic is will also change the timbre and room tone. Among other reasons, if you place a cardiod mic too close you will get a bass bump known as proximity effect. Listen to talk radio to hear this overused. Justin Colletti, of Sonicscoop, has this wonderful video exploring the different sounds we get with just this principle alone.

Originally I was hoping to get into mixing guitars, but that must wait till next time. The last point I want to drive home is that this is a skill set that we can always improve on. We are constantly learning. Go to conferences (AES), workshops, talks. Read magazines (Tape Op!) and watch videos. Talk to peers at all levels. Whenever possible I try assist other engineers. It lets me see how other people do things and handle situations. The amount I have learned from that or the conversations after the session about techniques and decisions used in the session has been monumental.

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*[This article was written by Chris Gilroy, producer and house engineer at Brooklyn-based Douglass Recording. Chris earned his degree in Sound Recording Technology from UMass Lowell. Chris has worked with a diverse range of artists including Ron Carter, Mike Stern, The Harlem Gospel Choir, Christian McBride, to name a few.]

Studio Spotlight: The Record Co. Focuses on Access Over Profit in Boston

Boston, Massachusetts is home to over 250,000 college students. With institutions like Harvard, M.I.T., Berklee College of Music, Emerson, Boston College and a slew of others, it’s a given that you’d see plenty of artists and bands finding their legs in a major U.S. city – whether they’re undergrads meeting at a local party or show, or a grad student furthering their music career by way of education. Growing up in the area, I recall being obsessed with bands in the ‘local scene’ – catching the T to see bands play in places from Elks Lodges to 18+ venues that I had to ‘borrow’ an ID to get into. But even then I noticed a turnover, as bands would migrate to other parts like New York and L.A., or venues with all-ages access would close unexpectedly.

While this isn’t uncommon, there’s still a lot to love about Boston’s music scene, but it can be a difficult place to live and survive as a musician or engineer. And what about the potential fans who don’t know what’s in their backyard?

Enter The Record Co. – a Boston-based non-profit facility that provides access to an affordable space to record quality projects and opportunities to freelance engineers and producers. The result is a much-praised collaborative atmosphere that is helping to change the landscape of Boston’s independent music scene. Not to mention, The Record Co. does a wonderful job of showing off all Boston has to offer with their Boston Sessions collaborative mixtape series, with Vol. 2 coming out soon!

In this month’s Studio Spotlight, I spoke to Jesse Vengrove, Program Director (and engineer/musician) at The Record Co. to discuss how the non-profit’s approach to offering this kind of access and how it’s been paying off:

First and foremost, what inspired you to start The Record Co. and do so as a non-profit?

Go up to any studio owner and ask them the following two questions and you’ll probably get similar responses:

1) “Are you making a large profit?” – “No”

2) “Why are you doing this then?” – “I love the work and I think it’s important/has cultural and/or artistic value.”

And there you have the most informal definition of a non-profit organization.

The Record Co. was founded in 2009 and, after a failed startup (first location flooded), we moved to our current facility in 2010.  The non-profit angle came out of a realization that that no one really needs to own a studio, people just need access to one.

We wanted to create a space that was accessible to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, and we wanted to create a space that was a part of the community and give back to the city.  We charge our clients to use the facility like any other studio but the rates are subsidized by foundations/grants and individual donors who believe it’s important to cultivate a vibrant and creative scene in Boston.

We’ve found a way to allow artists to come in and use the facility at a price point that works for small/non-existent budgets while relying on other sources of funding to keep daily operations running. In 2017 we’re on track to host 1,100 sessions between the two rooms, so needless to say there’s a demand that we’re filling (while still seeing new studios pop up and legacy studios stay in business).

Give our readers a little bit of a breakdown of the facility overall. What sets your studios apart from others in the area?

We currently have about 5,000 sq/ft split up over 2 floors which gives us a fair amount of space. We have two studios, Studio A and Studio B (yeah, super creative!).  Studio A is 2,500 sq/ft and includes a full kitchen and a lounge (with an ever-growing homage to the amazing art collection at Goodwill). We wanted it to feel like you’re walking into your friend’s living room, warm and homey.  We kept a lot of the windows up there so there’s a lot of natural light, which really makes the room comfortable.  There are two iso booths in there and a large live room.  You can get giant drum sounds up there (and we once squeezed a 45-person orchestra in there) or you can control/segment the room with gobos.  It’s a large space but we did our best to keep sightlines open so no one feels disconnected.

Studio B is our smaller vocal/overdub room.  This room is a little more chic than Studio A; no windows to the outside, color-changing LED lights, leather couch.  It’s a small but spacious enough so it doesn’t ever feel crowded, and everyone always loves the homemade absorption panels covering the wall.  Studio B definitely has a more traditional feel to it compared to A but it’s by no means sterile; it’s still a comfortable room to work in.  There’s a lounge outside the studio so there’s lots of space to spread out.  Studio B has it’s own private bathroom which sounds most excellent for re-amping.

Obviously you provide a space for the many artists of Boston to record, but tell us a little more about how your setup has benefited freelance engineers over your seven-year history.

TRC is a 100% freelance studio, which means that we don’t have any staff engineers.  We think it’s really important for artists to work with technical professionals that they get along with (both personally and musically) and so we enforce that every client brings in their own engineer.  At this point we have 1,100 gigs for freelancers every year happening in our facility, and we’ve priced our studios in a way that leaves room for engineers to charge a reasonable rate for their services.

When clients need referrals we refer to our staff, who are all great engineers as well (but they still negotiate their own rates and get paid directly by the client as a freelancer).  We also see a lot of engineers coming in from other studios around town (Q Division, Mad Oak, Zippah, Futura…) which we love.

Has the way you operate fostered its own community within the greater music scene? Do you feel you’re providing a space for collaboration and networking?

We see thousands of musicians/artists/engineers through our doors every year so I’m happy to say that it feels like we have a large community surrounding the work that that we do.  We really value the face-to-face interaction that takes place in recording studio and are happy to see so many people coming out of their basements or bedrooms and collaborating.  The best music doesn’t get made in a vacuum, it usually takes a team.

How do you feel that The Record Co. has contributed to the ever-changing landscape of the arts in Boston?

We’ve contributed in two ways: through direct support to artists/musicians and through an effort to raise general awareness about the great music that is being made in our city.  There is an obvious need for the programming we do as there are thousands of people that have taken advantage of our studios.  We have had bands and engineers tell us that we are the reason they stayed in Boston instead of moving to NYC or LA which is extremely meaningful to us and shows that there is a need for the work that we are doing.

We have also made an effort to engage music fans in Boston and let them know that you don’t need to look to NYC/LA or Pitchfork/Rolling Stone to find good new music, there’s actually tons of being made all around you.  Raising the reputation and awareness of what’s happening here in Boston is a long process but it only serves to make the city feel more like home for all of the musicians/artists that struggle to live and work here in Boston.

For a city home to a quarter of a million college students and a mayoral administration hoping to retain this population after graduation, what else does Boston need to be a happier home to working musicians and engineers?

That’s a tough one and is something we talk about regularly.  All-ages music venues, more (well maintained) rehearsal spaces, better public transportation, affordable housing inside city-limits…. None of these things are easy problems to solve but all would go a long way towards making the city a more hospitable place for artist and engineers.

Speaking of those college students, how does the Recor Co. interact with student artists and engineers-in-training from local colleges and universities? 

We wanted to price our studio rates in such a way that artists could afford to rent an appropriate amount of time to actually accomplish what they set out to.  These days the only way for artists to develop themselves is to act as their own A&R and just keep recording and tweaking until they finally land on something good.

Because we also cater to a lot of engineers who are just getting their start or haven’t worked in a studio outside of a college setting we host orientations every other week which consists of a conversation about expectations and best practices while working in a professional setting, how to avoid pit-falls that have the potential to kill the vibe for the players, and then a full technical walkthrough of the facility.  We always have staff around to assist with any technical questions/issues and we do have a great crew of part-time assistants that are able to help out as well.

After six years in business you dropped Boston Sessions, Volume 1 – which resulted in a very cool development in the Rock Band video game franchise! – what led you to releasing this? What was the reaction from artists and labels involved?

We really wanted to tackle both raising the reputation of what’s happening in our music scene and also provide an economic opportunity for the artists involved.  ‘Vol.1 – Beast’ featured 13 brand new tracks by 13 Boston-based artists.  In total we paid 63 artists/engineers/producers to make the record, which we’re really proud of.

Artist and sponsors alike both loved the project.  It was unique as it was all brand new material (not pre-recorded content) and really provided a cool cross-section of the diverse scene in Boston.  We were really happy to work with Harmonix to get the album featured in Rock Band, which is by far one of the craziest things to come from the project.  We also just finished up a large donated outdoor ad campaign around the city and on the trains called “Boston Music Is” which features pictures of artists from the comp.  It’s great to see the city showing some love for the artists that make it a cool place to be.

The album is available for streaming on Bandcamp and Spotify and vinyl is in our web store.

What can we expect on the upcoming volume of Boston Sessions? Beyond promoting the Record Co. and the artists featured, what hopes do you have for the release?

Vol. 2 is going to be an awesome collection of new music from some great artists around the city.  We really hope this go around that we not only turn heads in Boston but in other cities as well.  Ultimately we want Boston to be seen as a music destination and the Boston Sessions program is just one step along that path to get there.


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If you’ve been using TuneCore or reading our blog for the past few years, you know that we’ve tried to highlight the benefits of well-mastered releases. Mastering is an art that can vastly improve the sound of your recorded music – and it once took knowing an audio engineer who specializes in this process to make it a possibility. It could also be more costly for those releasing on an indie budget.

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Now, we’re psyched to announce a new and even more cost-friendly solution for instant mastering: Promaster by Aftermaster. TuneCore has expanded its partnership with Aftermaster in order to offer our artists the finest instant mastering tool on the market right now to polish their recently recorded tracks.

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Learn more about TuneCore’s partnership with Promaster by Aftermaster here, or if you’re ready to start instantly mastering your tracks, get after it!

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