Clean Cuts Audio now encompasses 16 audio rooms, including Control Room 4 (pictured) in Silver Spring, Md.
Full-service sound for picture providers Clean Cuts Music and Sound Design began 30 years ago as an independent record label. Founder Jack Heyrman was following his passion, producing artists such as Phil Woods, Wall Matthews, and Dr. John when, in 1985, he got a call to produce music for an ad agency.
“I liked the format and I found that being a generalist musically—there’s almost no type of music I’m not interested in—was a great help to me.” That agency project led to more, and then to the point when Heyrman realized he could hire composers and pursue projects on his own.
“That then led me to my needing to have my own studio,” Heyrman says. “I couldn’t beg studios to let me in whenever clients needed to revise something. You’ve got to have your own facility, and it’s got to be a place where your clients feel comfortable.”
Jack Heyrman founded Clean Cuts
What started as a sideline grew steadily into a multiroom facility in his hometown of Baltimore, and beyond: “We started working for cable TV networks,” Heyrman says. “We were doing a lot of music work for TLC, and we knew that if we opened in Washington, D.C., we’d be able to sound design and mix their work. We built a facility there with six audio rooms, so by that time we were up to nine rooms overall, and then we started a video special-effects graphics-editing company called Cerebral Lounge.”
Cerebral Lounge became the genesis of Clean Cuts’ third complex, in the centrally located (to the other two facilities) town of Silver Spring. Today, the three locations include 14 audio rooms and 10 Cerebral Lounge edit suites; 30 staffers provide sound design, music composition and tracking, and music and audio mixing for TV shows, spots and opens; advertising clients; and the newest growth area of Clean Cuts, videogames. Ongoing TV clients include Discovery (TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, etc.), the Travel Channel, PBS, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian Network. Clean Cuts also works for ad agencies and PR firms such as GKV, Digitas Health, Fleishman-Hillard, TBC and Ames Scullin O’Haire; and videogame developer Big Fish.
Heyrman says his company thrives because “It never feels like a big place. You’re always in a boutique environment, which is very important to us. We don’t ever want to be a factory.” However, just as Clean Cuts is focused on creativity and client service, they maintain cross-facility consistency with the installation of Pro Tools HD systems and Genelec 1030s or 1031s monitors in every audio room, so that engineers, composers or designers can take a project to another room or another stage of the project with no learning curve and no compatibility issues.
“We have a variety of mics, plug-ins, outboard gear and music libraries, including the Clean Cuts Music Library. Every sound designer has his or her preferences, but we have certain track layout systems and formats that everybody follows,” Heyrman says. “And when we upgrade, we upgrade across all three facilities. I find this to be beneficial, when one of our biggest strengths is how collaborative our business is; we take a team approach. Everybody is given freedom and opportunity, and rewarded. Seniority is not a big deal with us. Excellence is a big deal with us, and that comes from our great people.”
View Clean Cuts’ videogame music reel.