Playback Recording

Jul 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Barbara Schultz



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Playback ( has been the name of engineer Tucker Bodine's studio since he started flying solo in Manhattan four years ago. Building on his years of experience at top New York City facilities such as Sony Music and Tonic Post, Bodine opened Playback to support his freelance business that he enjoyed with national acts such as rappers Run-DMC, and Smiff & Wessun, and reggae artists Half Pint and Bushman.

The dramatic glass-mosaic echo chamber has sight lines to the control room and other isolated spaces

The dramatic glass-mosaic echo chamber has sight lines to the control room and other isolated spaces

“Things were going well,” Bodine recalls. “But it was a smaller studio and I got to the point where I needed a bigger facility. That's when I decided — looking at the state of the industry — to move to the West Coast.”

Bodine sold most of his gear to help subsidize the new Playback Recording Studio, now in Santa Barbara, Calif. Bodine worked with Chris Pelonis of Pelonis Design and Acoustics to create a singular studio design where five isolated spaces are arranged around the control room in a horseshoe configuration. This arrangement allows for sightlines between the control room and every musician, and between all of the players.

“All [of the five iso rooms] have different tonal characteristics,” Bodine says. “We did a vocal booth that was super-dead with custom fabrics. We built a 1,000-square-foot live room with retractable curtains, so it has variable acoustics. Also in the live room, for the back bass trap, we didn't just put perforated wood up; we put up perforated copper that is patina'd so it has a vibe to it.

“Another room we call the drum room has new TopAkustik treatments from RPG, which makes the room nice and bright. This room also has a Flutter Free wave on the back wall, and behind that lights react to the sound. Then there's the echo chamber where it's all broken-mosaic mirrors. It has a great natural delay for tracking brass or vocals.

Bodine's wife, Stephanie Bodine, is an interior designer, and she helped define the aesthetic of the space. “We wanted an acoustically perfect studio with a creative vibe to work in,” Tucker Bodine says.

Equipment-wise, Bodine chose an SSL AWS 900+ console because he appreciates its sound and analog/digital flexibility. There is also an installed Pelonis Signature Series surround monitoring system (PSS215A far-fields and PSS110 5.1 surrounds), and Bodine's collection of new and vintage outboard mic pre's and processing gear.

Since the facility went online last August, Bodine has completed post work for feature film Creature of Darkness; voice-over work with actor Michael Keaton, Stacy Peralta of Powell Peralta Skateboards and others; and he's recorded the Mad Caddies and numerous other West Coast bands.

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