Tag Archives: Slate

Studio Spotlight: Noise Nest Invests in the Future

Noise NestHollywood, CA (January 20, 2021)—Nick Gross, drummer, producer and entrepreneur, is a busy man, recording and performing with a variety of bands while also overseeing Gross Labs, his growing entertainment, media and investment company. Amidst all that action, Gross found the time over the past year to expand his Noise Nest production complex in Hollywood.

Now spanning an entire block in the heart of Hollywood’s media district, Noise Nest began more modestly under another name about eight years ago. “We leased the smaller space for the first three years for a production team that I had at the time; we used it as a songwriting facility,” says Gross. “We later built it out to be more of a recording studio facility where other managers, publishers and labels could use the space.”

When his neighbor’s larger building became available, Gross snapped it up, gutting the structure and calling in Peter Grueneisen’s nonzero\architecture to design a three-room complex with lounges, kitchen and other amenities. He then had designer and acoustician Chris Owens of F.C. Owens revamp the two production rooms in the original, smaller building.

Noise Nest's Studio A is centered around a split API 1608 console and a Slate Raven system.
Noise Nest’s Studio A is centered around a split API 1608 console and a Slate Raven system.

“It started as this sort of punk-rock, grungy little studio and it’s turned into a multi-purpose, multi-use content factory,” Gross says. His vision for Noise Nest was inspired by pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek’s now-defunct Fantasy Factory in downtown L.A., which he calls “a cool and creative way to think outside of the box.”

The initial two rooms catered to outside clients while Gross was growing his business, but Noise Nest now focuses on in-house content creation. “I host a lot of our internal publishing and label clients; they each get to use the space for free,” he says. “We’re doing all kinds of things: music production, live streaming, gaming. It’s an epic live event space; we built two basketball courts.”

The Gross Labs umbrella company, launched in 2018, encompasses record label and music publisher Big Noise Music Group, Noise Nest Animation, e-sports organization Team Rogue, and philanthropic education and self-discovery platform Find Your Grind. Gross co-founded Big Noise with Vagrant Records co-founders Jon Cohen and John “Feldy” Feldmann, the man behind SoCal ska-punk band Goldfinger; signings include The Used, Ashley Tisdale and The Wrecks. Gross still sometimes plays with Goldfinger, as well as his own bands, Half the Animal and girlfriends. His many investments range from consumer products to new tech ventures.

Studio B sports an SSL Nucleus.
Studio B sports an SSL Nucleus.

A common thread throughout Noise Nest is PMC speakers. “The choice of PMC was a no-brainer,” says Gross, who first heard the monitors at the studios of his friend, producer and songwriter Dr. Luke. “They’re incredible. We’re super stoked to have them.” Studio A features PMC’s flagship QB1-A in-wall main monitors, while various IB1S-A, twotwo.6 and twotwo.8 models provide near field coverage there and in the other rooms.

There is a consistent aesthetic between rooms. The largest space, A, is dominated by a massive console supporting a split analog API 1608, with the main desk to the left and 16 more channels to the right, plus a Slate Raven system. “It’s a one-of-a-kind desk that I wanted to build out with a cool mixture of analog and digital. The outboard gear that sits behind it is pretty special as well,” he says, and includes SSL and Neve mic preamps.

The live room in Studio A has ample space for artists.
The live room in Studio A has ample space for artists.

The tracking space is just the right size, he says: “It gets the job done. We wanted to be smart with the space and be as effective as we could, knowing that we wanted to build three studios in a 4,500-square-foot building,” he says.

Studio Showcase: Asheville’s Vinyl Answer

The B room, equipped with an SSL Matrix2 and soffited Genelec 1238A SAM main monitors, transforms into an indoor/outdoor space. “People can be playing basketball outside and see what’s going on inside the room at the same time,” he says. The console in Studio C, the smallest room, overlooks a small booth and houses an industry-standard vocal chain—Neve 1073 preamp and Tube-Tech CL 1B compressor—with ATC SCM25A Pro monitors and a rack of additional outboard gear.

Studio C adjoins a small vocal booth
Studio C adjoins a small vocal booth

“All three studios have their own vibe. I wanted to take the feeling of old recording studios, whether that was old brick or old wood or analog gear, and give it that high-end, digital, 2020s modern vibe. So we have white brick everywhere and polished concrete for all the floors,” says Gross. “It’s just a fun hang and a good vibe. You don’t want to leave.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Unlocking the Audio Secrets of ‘Decoder Ring’

Decoder Ring host WIlla Paskin.
Decoder Ring host Willa Paskin. Slate

Brooklyn, NY (September 3, 2020)—The audio production of the Slate podcast Decoder Ring isn’t exactly minimalist, but “reduction” is one of the secrets behind producer Benjamin Frisch’s sound design. Using sound libraries like Epidemic almost as a DJ might, Frisch manipulates canned music beds and deconstructs them to create his own mixes.

“Production music generally, I think, is just overproduced,” says Frisch. “But oftentimes, if you shave off one stem—if you use just the drums and the instrumental and the bass, that’s suddenly a really cool rhythm track, whereas the melody on top of that could be really cheesy or get in the way.”

Decoder Ring producer Ben Frisch’s sound design is created applying a variety of tricks to make the most of canned music beds.
Decoder Ring producer Benjamin Frisch’s sound design is created applying a variety of tricks to make the most of canned music beds. Slate

Decoder Ring cracks open cultural mysteries in a similar way. In each episode, host Willa Paskin confronts a cultural question, object or habit in order to figure out what it means and why it matters. Alongside that curiosity, though, is a healthy dose of irreverence. Recent episodes have explored the rise and fall of the laugh track in sitcom television shows, the emergence of the “Karen” personality and the origin of the mullet hairstyle.

The soundtrack to the “Mystery of the Mullet” episode illustrates a technique Frisch often uses in the creative process. Once he found a composition he thought could fit the tone of the story, he downloaded the stems and slowly brought them into the mix.

“I’ll bring them in one at a time in a way that isn’t in the actual mix of the song, to give a little bit more of a progression or feel to it,” he says. “It’s really fun because it feels like you’re scoring a movie.”

Whether researching, interviewing or editing, Frisch says the quirks he and Paskin add as they wind through the wormholes are a way to have fun with their subjects. For the episode “Clown Panic,” which dives into the history of clowning and what has made clowns terrifying to some people, Frisch naturally began to dig through upbeat circus music. But in addition to being “too obvious,” he also found it repetitious and annoying—in other words, not fun. He went with a more subtle waltz, which evoked the idea of clowns without being hokey.

The soundtrack to the “Mystery of the Mullet” episode illustrates a technique Frisch often uses in the creative process.
The soundtrack to the “Mystery of the Mullet” episode illustrates a technique Frisch often uses in the creative process. Slate

When it comes to recording narration and interviews, Frisch typically tracks Paskin on an Electro-Voice RE20 in the Slate studio. When a guest is a major focal point of an episode, like when Rebecca Black came in to discuss her 2011 viral hit song “Friday,” he prefers to record them at HQ or over an ISDN connection.

Pre-COVID lockdown, the show also used tape syncs often, but when the podcast lost access to the studio, Frisch gave Paskin a Rode NTG-2 and a Zoom H5 recorder so she could track from home. Guest audio is another story, though; he’s content with using VoIP audio from video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype for ancillary sources.

“I have never been nearly as obsessed with the sound quality of guest audio as some people are,” he says. “It’s only the two of us, and the way we work, it would not even be feasible for us to tape sync every person we want to talk to, just for cost and time reasons.”

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There are also benefits to having audio tracks with tones and textures that listeners can easily distinguish from each other, he says. “What I like about having a lot of different sources of audio is it allows you to shift the focus. It separates the two scenes from one another, which I think is actually a really valuable thing.”

Unlike podcasts that work forward from a script, Decoder Ring goes in the opposite direction, starting with the idea. The real story only reveals itself through research and interviews, when they’re able to peel back the layers. Frisch develops audio as the story itself develops, shaping it to reflect the emerging narrative, and scripting is usually one of the last things completed before they record an episode.

“What we get in those interviews is what really dictates what the episode is about in some ways,” he says. “Sometimes we come in with a stronger idea about the big philosophical question of the episode, but a lot of the times, it’s really a process of discovery.”

Decoder Ringhttps://slate.com/podcasts/decoder-ring

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Enviyon Grows from the Garage to the Future

Over the course of 10 years, Romel Williams (center) has grown Enviyon Entertainment from a parttime gig in his garage to a fully staffed multi-studio facility.
Over the course of 10 years, Romel Williams (center) has grown Enviyon Entertainment from a part-time gig in his garage to a fully staffed multi-studio facility.

Chicago, IL (July 29, 2020)—Since establishing a studio in his home’s garage, Enviyon Entertainment owner Romel Williams—better known simply as Will—has been sensible about building his business, only upgrading his gear and expanding his facilities as his finances have allowed. It’s been a long road, but Williams is now celebrating a decade in business with the recent addition of a podcasting studio and the introduction of Enception, a latency- beating remote recording service.

With a long history as a musician dating back to high school, Williams started out making beats in the living room of his house in Country Club Hills, a southern suburb of the Chicago metropolitan area. “It wasn’t a lot of equipment—just a MIDI keyboard, a laptop and an interface,” he said. But he moved out to the garage once he started a family because his young daughter liked to mess around with the controls.

“In the summertime, I would open the door because it would be hot in there. People from the neighborhood would walk by and ask, ‘Hey, is this a studio?’ And I’d say, ‘I guess it is!’ So it all started by accident.”

Before taking on any clients, Williams worked on his production chops. “I wasn’t so much into engineering yet because I didn’t have anybody to record, so I would practice on my own vocals,” he said.

Not only are Chicago summers very hot but winters are very cold, so as his recording clientele expanded, he decided to get out of the garage and find a commercial space. “But I knew the equipment I had would not be sufficient. People wouldn’t want to come into a commercial studio and see an old-school Mbox 1 and a laptop and be charged whatever I would have to charge because of the overhead that I had,” said Williams, who was still holding down a day job at the time.

“While I was in the first rental space, in 2012, I would buy a piece of equipment with every paycheck. I’d get a check and buy a mixer; get another paycheck and buy a mic. It took me a whole year. For that year, I paid rent, electricity, gas and insurance because I didn’t have enough equipment to open the studio. It was a long struggle, but when you have a vision, you just keep doing it—even though they tell you that you’re crazy.”

Studio B of Enviyon’s four-room facility centers around a Universal Audio Apollo 8XP interface and a 48-channel Mackie board.
Studio B of Enviyon’s four-room facility centers around a Universal Audio Apollo 8XP interface and a 48-channel Mackie board.

The commercial space, a former dental office at the end of a row of storefronts in a local strip mall, needed remodeling to work as a studio. Looking back, he said, “I didn’t realize how important construction was. You’ve got to soundproof everything.”

Fortunately, Williams is good with his hands and was able to do much of the work himself, including building studio furniture and a novel dual-computer display for his DAW. “I built it in 2013,” he recalls, before he was even aware of the Slate Raven, which it resembles. “I didn’t even realize there was a system like that,” he said. “I’m very handy so I just took some wood and made it, and it’s been that way ever since.”

Studio Showcase: The Record House

The original room, Studio A, was a success, and Williams soon found himself needing to expand. “The store next door was a clothing store, and the one next to that, they did some dance exercise, and the fourth store was a hair salon. When the opportunities arose, I would take the space. I grew from one to the next and ended up obtaining all four storefronts.”

Many of Enviyon’s clients are from the worlds of hip-hop and dance music, and over the years have come to include the likes of 147 Callboy, DramaGirl, DJ Casper, G-Herbo, Queen Key and the late Juice WRLD. But while those productions typically involve a lot of collaboration in the control room, Williams designed his next room, Studio B, in the second storefront, for versatility. The room offers several iso booths to accommodate live tracking of musicians and vocalists.

“We’re running everything through an Apollo 8XP interface,” he said of the B room. “I have a 48-channel Mackie board in there as well, but I really like the clean sound of the 8XP.”

Studio C features multiple booths for multitracking vocals, instruments and more.
Studio C features multiple booths for multitracking vocals, instruments and more.

By the time Enviyon had expanded into the fourth storefront, Williams and his staff had a different plan for Studio D, too. “When we built Studio D, we had a lot of different ideas on how we wanted it to be. I didn’t want a conventional studio; I wanted it to do more than one thing.”

As a result, Williams has added a podcast studio in Studio D, outfitted with Shure SM7B mics, that enables artists to move straight into marketing mode at the end of their project. “As soon as they’re done, they can go over to the podcast area to be interviewed,” Williams offers as an example. “We can do a livestream from there or record the audio professionally.”

The entire facility operates on Pro Tools, he added. “If I’m not available, it’s easy for another engineer to access a recording session from another studio using the network and pick up where we left off.”

With fortuitous timing, Williams introduced Enception just as the COVID-19 lockdown began. The new service flips the script on typical remote recording workflows and offers additional growth potential for the business. Devised in collaboration with several developers and similar to commercially available remote access and support software, Enception enables the Enviyon engineer to take control of the artist’s home workstation. “The artist doesn’t hear any latency because the recording is at their end,” he said. “There’s maybe a second of latency at the engineer’s end, but that’s fine. Then we can either mix it live or mix it at the studio and send them a copy.”

Most importantly, the service gives the client real-time feedback. “That’s what people want,” said Williams. “People still want to come to the studio if they can, but this is a great idea for those who can’t, or who are out of state or are overseas. That’s who we’re targeting with this program.”

Enviyon Entertainment • https://www.enviyon.com/

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com