The ReAmp Studio G team (l-r): Daniel Martin, Stefani Rose, Joshua Brooks TUSTIN, CA—ReAmp Studios opened a second Southern California location in mid-October: a new flagship facility, dubbed Studio G, situated in Tustin, CA. The new space has been positioned to offer music production and post production services at affordable rates, complementing ReAmp’s smaller, more D.I.Y. Studio X in nearby Anaheim.
Located within a business park complex, the facility was constructed almost single-handedly by Steve Perkins, who diligently documented the build-out and equipment commissioning on the Gearslutz web site starting in November 2005. The centerpiece of the large control room of what was then named Creation Recording Studios was an 80-input, GML-automated Amek APC 1000 digitallycontrolled analog console, one of only seven produced in the late 1980s by the now defunct U.K. manufacturer.
The studio was subsequently taken over by Krayzie Bone of Grammy Award and American Music Award-winning rap group Bone Thugs-NHarmony and was run as a private production facility until recently. “Everything was pretty much here when we bought it,” says Daniel Martin, co-founder of StartBeat Entertainment, the parent company of ReAmp Studios. A music and film producer, screenwriter and composer, Martin opened his first studio in 2009.
Affordability is the watchword at ReAmp. “Most of these younger musicians have no idea what being in a real recording studio is like,” says Martin. “They see the people they look up to going to really nice studios. Why should you have less, just because you don’t have a couple of million dollars to work on a record?”
The initial plan was to take the gear over to Studio X, he says. “But then we decided to run both, because we can do two different price points. This place is more for people doing full productions. People who are on tight budgets can still get an awesome recording at the other studio, which is more like a project studio. There’s not a big console, but it has nice mics, a couple of Neve pres and some nice compressors.”
If Studio X’s rates are out of reach, he adds, “We have payment plans; they’re interest-free—just pay as you go. We tell people, don’t let money be the reason why you don’t do this.”
Unfortunately the Tustin facility was not well-maintained, according to owner Stefani Rose, co-founder of StartBeat Entertainment, head of artist development and client relations, and a creative producer, actress and singer/songwriter. “They had a different way of running things than we do. When we took over, we had to invest quite a bit of money into bringing all this stuff back to life.”
The team called in mastering engineer and technician Charlie Watts of Technovoice to work on the Amek console, along with the third member of the ReAmp team, studio manager and head engineer Joshua Brooks, a producer and songwriter who runs Studio X. “Josh spent every day with Charlie, helping him piece things together. Now he knows every channel strip like the back of his hand,” says Martin.
The console “sounds amazing,” he says. “I love the EQs. I’m able to dial in the sound that I want. It’s not close—it’s exactly what I’m looking for, every time. When we pair it with our outboard gear and mics, it makes for a really good sound.”
Apart from adding some items of outboard to supplement what was already in the racks, the only equipment upgrade necessary was the purchase of a new Avid Pro Tools 10 HD2 rig, which is integrated with the studio’s Apogee AD/DA-16X and Rosetta 800 converters. “Our biggest issue was not the board or the outboard gear, but sync,” reports Martin, who solved the problem with an Apogee firmware update. “We’re using awesome plugs,” he continues. “It’s funny to see some of the hardware here, like the Purple Audio [MC77 limiter]—we have the plug-in as well.”
The team had Studio G up and running a month ahead of the official launch date. “We opened our doors to our previous clients. That way, they could come in and we could dial-in our sound,” explains Rose.
The soft opening gave Martin an opportunity to try out the gear and evaluate the tracking space. “We have some really cool microphones that I wasn’t familiar with before: these Pearlman TM-2 tube mics. I really like those a lot. And the Earthworks QTC1 condensers are amazing for acoustic guitars.”
The mic locker also includes models from AKG, Audio-Technica, Audix, Cascade, Electro-Voice, MXL, Neumann, Rode, Sennheiser and Shure. “We’ve been having a lot of fun over the past month just experimenting. The drums ended up where they are because that’s where they sound best in that room. We ended up miking it 30 different ways; every time we had a drum session, we’d use different mics in different places.”
The team are keen to instill a sense of community among local musicians, hosting a variety of songwriting and production courses and offering monthly membership options that provide access to networking mixers, studio time and mentoring. “We’re well aware, being artists, that you’re not always going to be able to afford this kind of a place. But you can still be part of this community, part of what we’re doing,” says Rose.
“You don’t have to be a paying customer. You can’t do it by yourself these days; there’s strength in numbers,” says Martin, adding, “This is more than just a recording studio.”