Chris Andrews in the control room of his Monument Sound studio
Photo: Shikai Photography
Engineer/producer Chris Andrews has moved his studio a few times in the past several years, and each time the facility has grown in size and capabilities. The first incarnation was a Pro Tools LE — based home studio called TBR Studio (The Basement Recording), where he did work that he describes as “slightly above demo quality” for musicians in his (then) base of Washington, D.C. In January '07, a job offer brought Andrews to Denver, where he set up a mixing studio in his rental home.
“I had something like $100,000 worth of gear sitting in the living room,” Andrews says with a laugh. “But then I had to take a job just north of Colorado Springs, so I bought this killer house in Monument and moved the studio yet again.”
Andrews current facility, Monument Sound (www.monumentsound.com), is in a 1,000-square-foot, purpose-designed space, acoustically treated with natural materials and Ready Acoustics panels. The studio includes four rooms: a 17×16 live room, 121×5 guitar room that he calls “the wood room,” 67× vocal booth and a 13×18 control room. The new studio is equipped with Pro Tools HD3 Accel; a Digidesign Control|24; API, Trident and Vintech preamps; a range of high-end plug-ins; and analog outboard gear all tied to Apogee conversion.
“But the secret weapon is definitely API summing,” Andrews says. “The 16-channel API DSM setup — I love it. I think the mix setup is really slick because it's a virtual, seamless patching system in Pro Tools. I can insert all of my analog gear without having to patch a single thing because it's all hard-wired into the converters. I then sum back into Pro Tools coming out of the API 7800 into a Benchmark ADC1 2-channel converter. It's really slick; you can set the levels as hot or as nice as you want and keep everything crystal-clear.”
Sitting at an elevation of 7,400 feet, Andrews' new home and studio are situated between Denver and Colorado Springs, and he has now become plugged into the music scenes in both towns. “I'm producing a Denver band right now called 66 Rising,” he says. “I've also gotten tracking and mixing projects from Colorado Springs where there's a lot of Christian music and surprisingly one of the biggest death-metal scenes I've seen in my life. [Laughs] But I also get the majority of my mixing projects from out of state. I hang out on some of the online recording forums — The Womb, DUC, The Pony — and network that way. For example, I'm working with a guy named Ashton Allen, a singer/songwriter who recently toured as a part of Barnes & Noble's ‘Discover Great New Artists’ program. He lives in Florida, but I just did a commercial spot for him, and I'm mixing a full-length album for an artist he produced named John Miller — really cool stuff!”
Other projects Andrews has recently taken on include Wisconsin rockers Annex, Colorado indies Light Travels Faster and a Colorado Springs — based singer/songwriter called PolyJane. He's even had bands become houseguests in his 3,600-square-foot home — he didn't necessarily intend Monument Sound to become a residential facility, but he's glad to have plenty of room in the wide-open spaces of Monument, Colo. “This place sits on half an acre on Monument Hill,” he says. “I have a view of Pike's Peak, there's a big open field in the backyard and you can hear howling coyotes almost every night.
“I'm hoping that with a dedicated professional attitude, I will start to build a larger clientele who likes the laid-back atmosphere where you can create and grow your music, hang in the mountains and have a very high-quality, professional product in the end.”