Design Issue

Feb 21, 2008 8:05 PM


Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

By a long shot, the oddest place where I set up a studio was in an onion warehouse in Walla Walla, Washington. The town is famous for its "Walla Walla Sweets." This occurred in the late 1970s, and at that time part of my income was realized by trekking around the Pacific Northwest with portable gear recording anyone who would pay me.

Based in Seattle, I had a Tascam 80-8 and a rack full of outboard gear that was stuffed into my land yacht, a 1969 Oldsmobile 98. The band, a country-rock outfit called Tukanon, had heard about me from a group in Idaho I had previously recorded. I don't recall what I was paid for the gig, but it was enough to cover gas, meals, a cheap motel and have a few bucks leftover as profit. Tukanon wanted to record six original songs in their rehearsal space, which was the retired office area connected to the warehouse, which was still in operation. It was actually a nice space to work in. I set up in a room that had a door and windows so there was a bit of isolation while they played in a large adjacent room with high ceilings.

I hadn't produced a full-length album for anyone at that time, but my producer hat was firmly planted on my head so I worked over the band and got some great-sounding tracks. They were so pleased with how it turned that they brought me back to the warehouse to produce an album a year later.

One interesting sidebar is when I set up a stereo pair on the loading dock and recorded a tractor trailer pulling away. One of the songs had a trucking theme and they asked to add this as a sound effect on the intro. Their trucker buddy parked his rig, and on my cue started up the engine and pulled away. I said, "Great, got it!" But then trucker buddy came back and pleaded for another take. Turns out he grounded the gears going into second and would be terribly embarrassed if his trucker buddies heard it. Okay, take two on the semi...
—Paul Speer

The oddest place I ever built a studio was in the back of a refrigerated milk truck. The walls, ceiling and floor were already insulated. I built the unit in Atlanta, and its first job was a recording job in Harlem, New York. The album was nominated for a Dove Award for Best Traditional Black Gospel Album. The truck had a 32-track Tascam board, modified and gassed up for greater signal-to-noise ratio, a 16-track 1-inch Tascam recorder, miscellaneous bits and pieces of outboard effects and processing, Roland keyboard, JBL monitors and a kerosene heater that stunk like the dickens.
—Barney Conway

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