Music producer and mixing engineer, Ady Parzentny loves to travel. As a balance to his commercial work, he particularly enjoys getting off the tourist trail, connecting with real people and learning about different cultures along the way. So he combined his love of music production with this passion for exploring and set up Hit The Road Music Studio.
Ady was keen to “keep it fresh and interesting” and eschewed the idea of setting up a studio in his homeland of Poland. “I knew I would end up sitting in a basement,” he muses. So he packed up a camper van with eight mics, one audio interface and a laptop back in 2017, and drove off into the beyond to record musicians from countries as far away as Armenia and Morocco. Over the years he has built his RV into a fully functioning mobile studio.
Ady’s is an incredible concept dedicated to supporting and recording local artists and bands, especially those that wouldn’t usually be able to make a record. “I love all kinds of music, but it’s been really inspiring to discover and record folk music and instruments from all over the world,” he says. “You can learn so much about the heritage of a culture when you hear their music.”
“You can learn so much about the heritage of a culture when you hear their music.” ~ Ady, Hit The Road Music Studio
Whilst on travels, he offers his services to artists who want to share a story about their culture and life, while looking for assistance to move forward in their musical career. Ady always chooses the performers carefully. “We like peaceful songs and always check the message and vibe of anything we record.”
Having found his artist – sometimes he just asks at the local youth centre or bumps into someone at a gas station – he sets about turning any available venue into a studio.
“It’s important that musicians should feel as comfortable and creative as possible,” he says, prepared for anything. And he has recorded everywhere…literally! In a tent in the desert, deep in the forest, in an 11th century monastery, in the mountains, by a lake (once with an artist actually standing in a lake) and in a museum – no location fazes him.
“It’s important that musicians should feel as comfortable and creative as possible”
“Nature has a big impact on the way people play music,” he adds. “When we were in the desert, you could hear the desert going through the electric guitars. This was really special.”
The more he is on the road, the more interesting and diverse the recording locations are and the better his mobile recording skills have become. He has honed his mic positioning techniques over the years and thrived on finding workarounds for any issues that arise, learning new things at every session. His work has also helped him solve problems in the mix after the fact.
This time he wasn’t in a Moroccan sheep shed…
It was his bright, positive energy that caught Audient’s attention and we met up with him in California to offer him the chance to try out the new EVO 16 audio interface. With its compact size, time-saving Smartgain option and myriad of other features, we figured it would be ideal for him to take with him on his next adventures.
Ady decided to test it out by recording a song performed by Armenian band: Araksya Amirkhanyan & Friends. This time he wasn’t in a Moroccan sheep shed, but the offices of Kali Audio. According to Ady, the process is pretty much the same however, wherever the location. “I never change much in the room,” he explains. “I will move the artists, always keeping in mind the timbre and volume of their instruments. The bass amp will be moved away from other low-end elements like the kick drum or the traditional instruments such as the Dhol which was used by the drummer.
“With the Smartgain feature, I just pressed a button, the band played for 30 seconds and everything was set up with enough headroom. I didn’t even have to re-adjust once we had recorded the first takes!”
“In this case, after the first soundcheck I had to move the overhead mics down to get a more direct sound from the cymbals and less room sound. Luckily it worked!” As usual, he only had a stripped down setup. This comprised eight affordable microphones which went straight into the EVO 16 and “its amazing preamps.”
He explains, “Most important in these recording sessions is to simply record in phase. The bass and keys went straight from a DI box into the EVO 16. For monitoring, I provided every artist with a Kali Audio IN-5 speaker. No fear of sound bleed here, it actually helps me to get to the final mix faster as the elements glue together naturally.”
Apart from a couple of loans from Warren Huart at Produce Like a Pro, he was using the same gear he would use out on the road. “It’s the magic of the right positioning of the instruments when recording – and the good musicians. David Bowie recorded ‘Life On Mars’ with an SM57 and that sounds (and feels) simply gorgeous!” laughs Ady.
“It may seem weird, but when we record in different environments like an office or a clay house which aren’t built to be professional studios, the inexpensive mics work much better because they pick up less of the room sound.”
Embracing The Positive
Where others might have got frustrated “capturing the live vibe with a minimalist setup” and recording in sub-optimal spaces, Ady has managed to find three main positives:
- “The more gear I have and use, the more can break, especially in extreme temperatures, like 50 degrees in the desert or -10 degrees in the mountains. So I prefer to keep it simple. Similarly, the best mic in the world might not work in these situations, so it’s a double-win for me.
- “I have really learnt how microphones work, and can now choose the right mic for the situation without being hung up on the brand. This was crucial in my development and learning process. It took me a while but I am now ready in any environment and understand all the gear I have and exactly how to get the best out of it.
- “I don’t have to carry as much!”
He also admits to bringing his own secret ingredient: “Keep up the good energy during the session – even in stressful situations.” Luckily he has it in spades.
Trying Out EVO 16
So what were his first impressions of the new EVO 16 audio interface? “It looks sharp, sounds gorgeous and will definitely fit in my backpack when I’m on the plane to the next job. The handling is easy and I love the little details like the ghost when adding phantom power!”
On EVO 16 Smartgain: “Genius and convenient, it really helped to move things along more quickly.”
When asked how it performed during the session, Ady was effusive. “It was such a time-saver thanks to the Smartgain feature. I’m used to adjusting 8 to 24 knobs at the same time during the loudest part of the song, so I would have to ask the band to repeat that part several times over. Then after the soundcheck is done, we record the performance. The musicians’ adrenaline kicks in and the levels are way higher than they were and we have to do it all over again.
“With the Smartgain feature, I just pressed a button, the band played for 30 seconds and everything was set up with enough headroom. I didn’t even have to re-adjust once we had recorded the first takes! Genius and convenient, it really helped to move things along more quickly.
“Then those preamps. With my old setup, I had to use between 3 and 5 plugins per channel in the mix. The mic pres are so good I only used between 0 and 3 plugs per channel, which saved me around an hour and a half in the mixing process.” He attributes some of that to the excellent musicians who came well prepared for the session, too.
On EVO 16 Motion UI: “Now I can choose the exact channel I want to adjust using the display, which helps avoid mistakes.”
With the all-new Motion UI control system, Ady was able to see exactly which channel he’s working with using the full colour screen built into the unit. “I don’t know if you realise how much it helps me to have only one knob to adjust the input gain. Before I had 8 – 24 knobs and in stressful situations I might adjust the wrong knob! Now I can choose the exact channel I want to adjust using the display, which helps avoid mistakes.“
EVO On Tour
So the question is…will he be taking it with him on his next trips? “Oh yes, this will be going everywhere with me now. We’re going to record a five-track EP, documentary and music videos with American band Bondeko in Albania at a gorgeous olive farmhouse close to Tirana next. I’ll get another EVO 16 for when I need more than eight inputs, and I must get an EVO 8 which is USB powered so I can record in the forest.”
“this will be going everywhere with me now”
He’s definitely sold on EVO, now. “My old interfaces will go with me, but I’ll give them away to local artists in Morocco when I’m there.”
Wow! We’ll stay in touch with Ady to see how he gets on. Stay tuned for the next instalment, when we find out how EVO 16 fares on the road.
In the meantime, check out Araksya Amirkhanyan & Friends on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify …and find out more about Ady and Hit The Road Music Studio on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.