Music Tech Magazine’s Show Off Your Studio: The best studios of May 2019: Matt Warren-Sound Solution Recording

matt warren studio sound solution recording

Sound Solution Recording

Interviewee Matt Warren
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Matt Warren’s Illinois studio is his “perfect” production environment

Key kit:

  • Digidesign/Focusrite Control|24 desk
  • dbx 386 tube-mic preamp
  • Avid Pro Tools
  • Farfisa organ

Let’s talk about your studio, Matt!

My studio, Sound Solution Recording, is located on the outskirts of Chicago, in Plainfield, Illinois. It’s part of my home and I opened it back in 2016. I designed most of the studio myself, while my wife helped with the interior decorations. I’m really happy with how the studio turned out, and out of all the studios I’ve worked in since my career began 35 years ago, this has been my favourite. It’s also the perfect environment for me to make music. The artists that have recorded with me have all commented on how comfortable they feel in my studio.

Give us an overview of the gear.

Digidesign/Focusrite Control|24 desk, Mac Pro 12 Core, dual Apple Cinema monitors, QSC K-12, Yamaha HS8, HSW-8 and JBL Control 24 monitors, Pro Tools HD 8, Digidesign 192, Digidesign SYNC and MIDI, Shure and Blue mics, Ampeg bass rig, Fender bass and a Farfisa organ. Outboard rack: dbx 386 tube-mic preamp, TC Electronics C300, Alesis MIDIVerb 4 , Novation DrumStation II, E-mu Vintage Keys, Orbit v2, Xtreme Lead, Proteus 2000 and Roland JV-880. Plug-ins: Waves Platinum SSL G series, API 550, 560, Focusrite Red Series LA-2A, Pultec EQ, Butch Vig Vocals, JJP Vocals, JJP Guitars, JJP Bass, Manny Marroquin Vocals, Manny Marroquin Delay, Manny Marroquin Reverb, Lexicon reverb series, Drawmer DS201 gate, Novation Bass Station and more.

Which DAW do you use and why?

I’ve been a Pro Tools user for many years. It’s an industry standard, and right now, I’m using Pro Tools HD 8 because I find it user-friendly and intuitive. 

What’s your favourite piece of gear?

That depends on what project I’m working on and what my role is: either a recording engineer, mixer or producer. It could be a Shure 57 mic, which I’ll use when I’m on top of recording, or the dbx 386 tube-mic preamp that’s usually part of my go-to setup when I’m producing. On solo projects, I still have a soft spot for my Farfisa organ that you can find in my live room, as well as my collection of vintage synths.

The Digidesign/Focusrite Control|24 desk is probably my favourite piece of gear. It may not be the most modern desk and it doesn’t have as many channels as some that are available now, but it’s the perfect partner for Pro Tools. When it first came out, it was a game-changer with a tonne of useful features, including the motorised faders, 16 Class A mic preamps, line inputs and dedicated EQ and dynamics switches on every channel.

Any dream piece of gear?

I love vintage synths sounds and drum machines. And if money was no object, I’d love to buy a Chamberlin Rhythmate, the first drum machine ever produced and only around 10 were made by Harry Chamberlin in his garage in Upland, California in 1949. If not, I’d settle for Wurlitzer Side Man tube drum machines, which were produced between 1959 and 1965.

What’s your top production advice?

Keep listening to tracks and producers who create sounds you love. Then, figure out what makes the record great. This is so important. Listening is part of any producer’s musical education. There are no shortcuts and it’s a case of putting in the hours.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out building a studio?

Don’t go out and buy lots of different pieces of expensive equipment at once. Instead, work on a less-is-more approach. This allows a new producer to learn how the equipment works and what it can actually do. Sometimes, it’s not the equipment, but how you use it and how well you know it.

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