Project Studio: Ryan's Place
Mar 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Matt Gallagher
Los Angeles-based engineer/producer Ryan Ulyate parlayed his hard work and his vision into a dream career. Since 2005, Ulyate has worked closely with Grammy Award-winning artist Tom Petty, primarily in Petty's home studio; in Petty's rehearsal space/recording studio, The Clubhouse; and in Ryan's Place, Ulyate's home studio in scenic Topanga Canyon. “I'm pretty good at recording and mixing, and as a producer I see myself as more of a collaborator with the artist; that's my favorite thing to do,” Ulyate says.
Ulyate learned his craft in commercial facilities beginning in 1978. “That's the most valuable education you can have,” he says. “You realize that there are as many different ways to make a record as there are people.” In 1997, Ulyate met producer Jeff Lynne, which led to his work on George Harrison's final album project, Brainwashed, and the soundtrack for the November 2002 tribute to Harrison, Concert for George. “Right after that, Jeff was producing, along with Tom Petty and Mike [Campbell], Tom Petty's Highway Companion album. After that, Tom started pulling me more into the things he was doing. Ever since then, I've been co-producing his stuff. It's a great relationship.” Ulyate worked with Petty and Campbell on their latest release, the CD box set Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: The Live Anthology, which presents selected tracks from live concert recordings spanning 1978-2007.
Notably, Ulyate's studio is tightly integrated with Petty's home studio for the smoothest possible workflow between the two rooms. “I made sure that Tom's room had the exact same Pro Tools system — the same amount of cards, a similar I/O, the same plug-ins, software and speakers,” Ulyate says. Ulyate's studio is housed inside of a 12×24-foot structure on his property; he treated his room acoustically with shoji screens, foam, curtains and bass traps, and configured it for 5.1 surround with five ATC SCM50ASL Pro three-way midfield monitors. “Those ATCs reveal so much more detail in the midrange,” he says. He also uses KRK 7000s, a Bag End Infrasub-18 Pro subwoofer and Auratone speakers.
Ulyate's studio has a Pro Tools HD6 system, Pro Tools Version 7.4, a quad core Mac G5 PowerPC, a 24-channel Digidesign D-Command console and two Digidesign 192 I/O interfaces configured with 24 inputs and 16 outputs. Ulyate uses a dbx 120A Subharmonic Synthesizer that “adds a bit more thump to kick drums and tom-toms, and sometimes bass. I do everything else inside the box with plug-ins.” Ulyate's main plug-ins include the Massenburg DesignWorks Parametric EQ and Universal Audio's UAD 1176 TDM plug-in, which is no longer supported. “That's why I've held onto my old machine,” he says of his Mac. “As for reverb, it's pretty much between [Audio Ease] Altiverb and [Digidesign's] TL Space. I like Eventide and Sound Toys [plug-ins] for effects.
“[This] studio came into its own around 2005, and it had everything to do with being able to mix inside the box in Pro Tools,” Ulyate says. “The most important thing for me is being able to take the time to mix. With more time, I feel I can mix better.”
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