Every once in a while a piece of gear comes along that completely changes your workflow, a piece that once it is implemented you can’t ever imagine how you got by before without it. This has been the case since we added this Dangerous ST Monitor controller setup to our workstation. I can’t praise the Dangerous Music team enough for their care in R&D and design– they are all audio engineers creating devices that streamline productivity, and the end result makes all of our jobs easier without compromising audio quality. This little unit has distilled all of my essential tasks to be easily accessible for efficient tracking and mixing. It recreates a console’s master section, with a stereo (upgradeable) remote-controlled input source and speaker switcher, cue/talkback system, and headphone amplifier all in one space rack.
While the best part of this unit is obviously the sexy lighting display, there are a few other features that make it indispensable during my sessions: a stepped analog volume attenuator (done via relays not level-controlled IC Chips, that’s why it sounds so good), programmable ins and outs for multiple sources, speakers with independent subwoofer control, and a built-in talkback mic and 20 watt headphone amp.The Monitor ST also has dual control and dedicated slate output, which allows me to give the producer his own talkback button and set up a great headphone mix. This setup can also be upgraded and expanded with other units they make to achieve 5.1 down the road.
Even beyond the pristine audio quality it is the ease of access that really sold me on this unit: the monitor ST allows me control the entire system right from the sweet spot. Being able to hear exactly what has been captured on all of our formats has greatly improved my mixes saving me and my clients time and money. It truly has become the heart of the whole mix room.
This month we have been working with the Portland-based Folk Pop duo, Builder of the House on their new record to be released in 2016 on sonaBLAST! Records out of Louisville Kentucky. Builder of the House has been racking up recognition recently, and is currently nominated for “Best in the State” at the New England Music Awards (happening April 9th). Their single There Is No Hourglass, Only Sand is also a semi-finalist for BEST AAA (Adult Album Alternative) Song and Best Music Video in the International Songwriting Competition.
We set the bar high from the last EP, but for me this record is less about a traditional band approach– Elliot is playing more guitar, they’re blending organic and electronic instrumentation, and using electronic sounds not just as effects, but to create a signature sound that is the foundation of this album. Since the EP they’ve been doing a lot of live shows and touring as a two-piece and they’ve re-invented how they pull off such a rich sound with just two people: it has changed their approach to how they’re writing these new songs. I’m also seeing more varied material in this album. It’s darker, poppier, and more adventurous (my favorite track so far is When No One is Here).
The album reflects a kind of evolution in our live sound. We used to be a pretty straightforward rootsy indie band, with Rob on guitar and vocals, me on drums and percussion, and other musicians filling in on bass, vocals, guitar, synth, horns, and other instruments. Because of the difficulty in maintaining a large band, we scaled back to three of us, then just the two of us (Rob and myself). We started to consider what changes we could make to maximize our sound as two musicians, which led to me switching to electric guitar and using live electronic percussion loops. Rob already utilized a vocal pedal for effects, so adding other electronic sounds was a fairly natural step, and it allowed us to have a fuller sound with fewer people. The change in instrumentation allowed us to play our existing material in a new way and changed our approach to writing new songs. I began co-writing songs, and we quickly had enough material to think about a full-length album. -Elliot Heeschen, Builder of The House
It has been fun to work with Elliot and Rob to follow suit sonically with the lush, thick recording style from the EP but with a more open ended approach– they’re delivering some refreshing performances in the studio and I’m looking forward to mixing the album. In the meantime, you can listen to the first EP that we did in 2015 at Acadia: