Freddie Feldman’s new studio, Vocomotion, was designed by John Storyk and project manager Matt Ballos.
While other engineer/studio owners live by the mantra “diversify or die,” Freddie Feldman has confined his career to a very specialized niche: a cappella recording. Feldman has been singing in a cappella groups since high school. While he was at Northwestern University pursuing a double-degree in vocal music and computer engineering, he sang in collegiate a cappella groups including Five O’Clock Shadow and Purple Haze. When he learned how to use a roommate’s Pro Tools rig, his artistic and technical interests melded together.
Feldman operated two other studios for a total of 10 years before opening his new facility, Vocomotion (Skokie, Ill.), which went online in April 2009 and was designed by the Walters-Storyk Design Group. Feldman says his is the first all–a cappella studio that WSDG has designed, but as an experienced owner/operator, Feldman knew just what he wanted.
“I told them when we started, I’m building this a cappella studio. It’s basically like a voice-over studio. I needed a small booth, but I wanted the booth to be big enough for more than one person. When you’re tracking a cappella, the modern style of doing it is overdubs—one person at a time. You want control over every single voice, but occasionally you want to do a small group of people hand-clapping or group shouts. So we built an 8x8 booth where I can fit four people. In the control room, I said to think of it kind of like a mastering studio. I wanted as little between myself and the monitors as possible. I don’t have a console. It’s all Pro Tools–based, and I do have a large rack of gear that sits behind me.”
Feldman’s studio is modest in size at just 425 square feet. It’s all about selectivity, not quantity, in the rooms and in terms of equipment: “I need much less gear than a typical studio that’s open for bands to come in,” he says. “I don’t need a huge mic locker and a board with all these pre’s to track drums because I’m not tracking a drum kit. And because the number of channels I need is low, I can take the same amount of money and focus on one channel or a couple of channels. So, for example, on my lead vocal channel, I’ve got a Retro Sta-Level tube compressor. I can run that when I’m tracking every channel because I’m tracking one at a time.”
Other gear includes Focal Twin6 Be main monitors, a Crane Song Avocet monitor controller, Great River preamps and that specialized mic collection: Lawson L251s, Neumann TLM 103, Sontronics Sigma, and Thumper, a throat mic that Feldman developed for beat-boxing and vocal percussion.