Project Studio: Tonysound

Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Matt Gallagher


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Photo: Ed Colver

Photo: Ed Colver

Engineer/producer Tony Shepperd made a life-changing decision in 1999: Following a particularly grueling stint in a commercial facility — and having had enough of long commutes and time away from his family — Shepperd transformed the garage of his San Fernando Valley, Calif., home into Tonysound (

This is Shepperd's fourth project studio, and it provides the ideal setting for his recording and mixing projects, including work for Kenny Loggins, Take 6, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, the Backstreet Boys and many others. “It took me a year to build this studio,” Shepperd recalls. “It was a 17-by-19-foot garage with an off-center A-frame roof. I kept saying to myself, ‘I'm going to do this [with] cash,’ because so many of my friends had typically taken out second [mortgages] on their houses [to build a studio]. So I'd get a little spare change here and there, and built everything for $35,000.

“We floated the floors, the walls, the ceilings,” Shepperd continues. “There are no standing waves because there are no parallel surfaces in this room. I built sound traps into the wall. I built this room around my main source of monitoring. I knew that the NS-10s were going to sound good in here because every step along the way, I'd listen.”

Tonysound comprises three rooms. “One is a control room that is 12-and-a-half feet in the front and 13-and-a-half feet on the back, and it's 16 to 17 feet long. I have an entryway that's 6-by-6 feet, which also houses all the [noisy] gear. Then I have an iso [room] that's 6-by-10 feet. We've tracked drums, acoustic guitars, vocals and strings in there. We tracked the Tower of Power horn section in there.”

The studio offers a Mac G5 and Pro Tools HD6 system with Digidesign 192 interfaces and a C|24 control surface. Since 2001, Shepperd has mixed entirely inside the box, and now employs analog summing and processing as needed using multiple Tonelux hardware modules and A-Designs' HM2EQ Hammer dual-mono 3-band tube EQ. He also has an A-Designs Pacifica solid-state mic pre, Neve 1073s, Tube-Tech CL1B compressor and Bryston SST Series amps. Along with the NS-10s, he uses Westlake BBSM-10 monitors. Shepperd's mic cabinet includes an AKG C 12 VR, Neumann M149 and Sony C800G, as well as models from CAD, Electro-Voice, Shure, Marshall and Sennheiser.

Shepperd uses Gefen Extender systems and Cat-5 cables to connect the computer stored in the entryway to the monitor and QWERTY keyboard on a mobile desktop. “I can move it anywhere,” he says. “When I'm tracking I like to face the iso. When clients come in, I can move [the desktop] all the way to the right and let the clients sit in the middle and listen to the mix in the sweet spot. And I can still sit on the side and make changes that I need to make.”

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