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Saving Grace

The phrases, “Strength in numbers” and “Diversify,” may be clichés in the recording-services business, but “maxim” and “axiom” surely apply to these words as well.

The phrases, “Strength in numbers” and “Diversify,” may be clichés in the recording-services business, but “maxim” and “axiom” surely apply to these words as well.

In Richmond, VA, three partners have created a multi-dimensional production facility under one roof. 9WG Studios, at Nine West Grace Street, was recently launched in the 7,500-square-foot former storefront of an appliance company. The facility houses two audio recording suites, a two-story tracking room and iso booth, two edit suites and a shooting cyc.

Red Amp Audio’s control room houses a 32-fader Digidesign ICON D-Control with surround panner option, powered by Pro Tools HD|5. 9WG Studios is comprised of three distinct businesses that can operate as one: Red Amp Audio; video production company Spang TV; and editorial company Mad Box Post. Owners Jody Boyd (Red Amp Audio), Melanie Cox (Spang TV) and Marna Bales (studio manager) have worked together in the production industry for some 15 years.

For Boyd, Red Amp Audio and the larger 9WG facility are the manifestation of a yearslong dream. “I had a smaller studio for about the last 10 years,” he recalls, “and was building a client base. I also worked at several production facilities, doing music and post, before this—I mixed America’s Most Wanted for a while. I finally went on my own with a small studio, and gradually worked my way to building this place.”

Boyd, nonzero\architecture’s Peter Grueneisen remembers, “wanted to build a facility together with his wife [Bales] and also a video producer [Cox], and make it more multi-functional. They purchased a building in downtown Richmond and started planning. That’s what we got involved in.”

Nonzero\architecture incorporates its predecessor firm, studio bau:ton. It was another Virginia-based project studio bau:ton project—the private studio of the Dave Matthews Band—that led to nonzero’s participation in 9WG Studios’ design. Boyd’s friend, longtime DMB member/ collaborator Butch Taylor, recommended Grueneisen for the project. (studio bau:ton had also designed a studio for DMB drummer Carter Beauford, and worked with the band’s late saxophonist LeRoi Moore.)

“He and I basically grew up together near Roanoke,” Boyd says of Taylor. “I’ve known him forever—we played music on and off and have been friends. He said, ‘If you’re going to do this, I’ve got the guy for you.’ I talked to Peter, and he was just great. He’s very easy to talk to, and right off the bat seemed like the right guy. He came so highly recommended, and was great all the way through the process.”

Nonzero\architecture was responsible for the overall concept and design of the Red Amp, Spang TV and Mad Box Post studios. Common-area design and day-today construction observation were handled by Richmond firm Glavé and Holmes. “We laid out the floor plan and assigned spaces to different things,” Grueneisen explains. “It was nice that it used to be a photo studio, among other things. The photographer had a two-story space in a portion of the building. The second floor is cut out in an area, and were able to put the tracking room in that space, which is nice.”

Red Amp Audio features a 32-fader Digidesign ICON D-Control with surround panner option, powered by Pro Tools HD|5. “I’ve always been a Pro Tools guy,” says Boyd. “That has really been great. I’ve got a fair amount of outboard gear. Vintage King Audio has been really great to me. I’ve been using the LaChapell 992 2-channel tube pre—that’s killer. I got a couple [Neve] 1073s from them, and a big rack of API pres that I use for drums and other things. The Shadow Hills mastering compressor is probably the newest thing I got from Vintage King. That’s killer on the 2-bus or to track vocals.

“I can’t get over how the level of what I’m able to do has increased,” Boyd adds, “now that I have a real room to mix in, and a real room to track instruments. It’s just been a joy to do that since we’ve been here.”

Boyd, and mixer/editor Andrew Uvarov, in Red Amp’s Studio B, stay busy with advertising, film, documentary and infomercial clients. A multi-instrumentalist with two music degrees, Boyd adds production for bands and singer/songwriters to the mix. “I’m pretty much the one-man band here,” he says.

In its first few months, 9WG Studios has demonstrated the synergistic potential of multi-functional businesses operating under one roof. “There has been a lot of new business for everyone,” Boyd observes, “which is what we had hoped for. All kinds of new ad clients have come in, and folks I could never attract before. Having the other businesses in here has been so great, because we’ve been feeding off each other. We can offer a onestop shop, which is great.”

9WG Studios

Red Amp Audio

Spang TV

Mad Box Post