It’s not many studios that can lay claim to being the centre of a banging live scene, but Smalltown America Studio (STA) can certainly attest to being where it’s at in Derry, showcasing acts from across the UK and Ireland with their series of ‘Live @ STA’ events. “The bands play live on the floor in our 1600sq ft live room,” confirms studio engineer, Caolán Austin. “We run our lines through our ASP8024 then to ProTools; we send the mixed feed from the desk to an encoder box and stream the audio and video on our website. People can watch at home if they can’t make it to the gig.
“the focal point of our whole studio – and quite a magnificent one, at that”
“Fitting bands, PA and a crowd into the space is quite a feat,” he laughs, explaining that the small audience usually numbers about 50. It’s not a problem if you missed it – or want to relive the experience, either. “After the show we mix everything and each show is released as an album.”
Austin describes the 36-channel Audient desk as “beautiful” and “the focal point of our whole studio – and quite a magnificent one, at that,” taking pride in the Northern Irish facility. “For traditional recording sessions, our tracking/monitoring workflow has been entirely designed around the analogue desk.
“As we have such a spacious live room, most bands want to come in and track live. We have devised a system of ‘stations’ within the studio. Drums are permanently set up, we have an amplifier room to send signals to, there is a vocalist station and so on. This reduces initial set up time to around 30 minutes. Bands on a budget want to get working straight away; using this method, we can get great results quickly. It wouldn’t be possible without the ASP8024’s flexible routing and the use of TFS for line/insert points for patching our outboard presets.
“For monitoring, we run a Behringer Powerplay headphone system with P-16 modules. Each auxiliary bus on the desk is wired to correspond with a headphone channel, including control room foldback. During a session, we can route new audio paths quickly, while still giving bands a flexible channel count to ensure headphone mixes are good as they can be,” adds Austin, continuously mindful that some clients need to watch their pennies – but not scrimping on quality. “All of this ensures our workflow is still incredibly quick and efficient.”
Check out the STA website for past gigs and what’s coming up next for Smalltown America Studio.