Studio Unknown's Confessions of a Small Working Studio—Staying Small, Thinking Big

Apr 28, 2010 12:16 PM, By Lisa Horan & Kevin Hill, Studio Unknown


Charles Denler

Charles Denler


That’s not to say, of course, that just because you’re a small studio, you can chintz on equipment. While you don't you have to go for the Rolls Royce, you do have to figure out how to make the Acura sound like one.

“From a sonic standpoint, there’s a certain degree of quality that we demand and we don’t let a project leave here that’s not at that level,” says McBride, who made the choice recently to scale down some of the equipment at his facility, but wasn’t about to compromise on quality. “We had what I guess you could say was a shrine to vintage gear. But we realized that to make the studio accessible to bands who are struggling to survive economically, we’d have to make some changes.” One of those changes involved scaling down his large-format console to a Rupert Neve 5088 console. McBride says it was the right decision because they're still able to create phenomenal quality minus a lot of the hidden costs associated with the larger board.

It’s true, however, that the perception of smaller studios can cause high-profile clients to hesitate, even when considering working with engineers that have serious credentials like Reeves. “A producer I know was working on a major artist’s project and had decided to record and mix the album at a very well-known studio in L.A.  He was supposed to come to us just to recut the drums on one song for some creative reasons,” explains Reeves.  “Ultimately, he was so knocked out by the drum sound we were able to create that he wound up doing all of the drums and completing the second half of the project here.” 


You can do the highest-quality work with most impressive clients, but if you don’t tell others about it, it’s not going to help expand your business. “There’s literally no excuse for bad communication,” says Denler. “Everything from the iPhone to Facebook says that people want to communicate, so if you want to succeed, you’ve got to learn to do it well.” He practices what he preaches:  Each year, Denler, sends out thousands of emails to targeted industry professionals and is always available to give clients one-on-one time.  Is it any wonder that one of his recent gigs was composing the music for Honda’s summer “Mr. Opportunity” commercials?

In spite of their connections and stellar reputations in their respective segments of the industry, both the Jungle Room and Gravity also engage in actively promoting their studios by frequently updating their Websites with their latest accomplishments. 

“It's not enough to rely on what people hear about you, so I don't just depend on word of mouth to get new business,” says Denler.  “Most of the work I get has come from me working my butt off to get it!”  

Studio Unknown is full-service audio post production facility and recording studio that specializes in helping clients discover creative sound for film, video, web, gaming, and artist projects. For more information, visit  

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