Small but powerful. Located in the fast-growing western suburbs of Melbourne, New World Audio Production studios are a smart and nimble option for your music production and rock and roll dreams. Combining extensive audio experience, industry standard gear and a get-things-done positive attitude, this studio confirms the growing global trend of home-based professional production environments.
We had the chance to sit down with seasoned studio owner and music producer Boris Markarian to talk about his approach and what his studio has to offer.
The story so far
How did you start in the music business ? And how did this idea of starting your own thing came to life ?
I’ve graduated in music production and audio engineering back in Argentina. Following a specialisation course in mastering, I moved from Argentina to Brazil, so that’s where I developed my skills with practical projects ranging from metal to samba.
Schools will teach you all about the theory of producing music, and as a young naive engineer you might think that is a one-size-fits-all formula. That experience, however, showed me what works and what doesn’t for each style of music that I came across.
Specialisation makes sense if you are, say, a hit maker who lives in Nashville and nurtures the country music segment, for example. But for the diversity we have in Australia that wide range of experience is an excellent match. When I moved here, I contacted all the studios I could find, but ended up working in a different field for a while. That line of work enabled me financially to then start my own thing.
The Australian business environment is favourable for entrepreneurs. And we are living in such a wonderful time for audio technology, with access to gear our parents could only dream of. This enabled me to get where I am now.
The right amount of gear
As we discussed, many home-based studios are basically a laptop based DAW, an Apollo Twin and a good set of microphones. Why go further ?
The goal is to have the best recording session possible, as the capture of the sound in its purest form is essential for a professional music production. So I have 4 options of pre-amplifiers from the likes of Presonus, Universal Audio, Audient and Focusrite, thus giving my clients plenty of options for the sound capture.
Mixing is done in-the-box using ProTools, but we do have an Avid control surface to make the process more user friendly. Being honest, everything could be done using a mouse and keyboard shortcuts. But the process is quite agile and intuitive with the control surface as it has the look and feel – with faders – of past mixing desks. No impact on sound, just workflow.
60% of my mixes are defined within the first hour of mixing work, and that is where the control surface saves a lot of time. The bottom-up process of adding elements to the mix to create that initial texture is quite powerful and intuitive. From there, all the final touches of the mix can be done with mouse clicks commanding all sorts of plugins.
Mixing with your ears
Speaking of mixing, one of the dangers of modern technology is the mixing with your eyes approach. It’s easy to get distracted by all the cool looking plugins and fancy colours in your DAW instead of listening…
If you’re using the mouse and the computer screen a lot, that risk is even higher as you have to look. But the control surface can be used to shortcut most moves I need to make at the early stages of a mix. Because it is physical, you can memorise positions and functions and then focus on the listening. Meters are checked for compliance with loudness goals, but the most important factor is how it actually sounds.
The value proposition
You certainly have demonstrable experience in your craft, but studios are everywhere these days. What makes clients come to you ?
Of course it can’t be just gear. Anyone can buy gear and plugins. I take inspiration from masters like Andrew Scheps who have proven that you can mix professionally in the box with the experience they have. Knowledge is the key factor here. There are a plethora of gear and plugins you can buy, but I know from experience the shortcuts, what works and what doesn’t. I’ve gone through the learning curve and can take the clients to their desired results quickly.
Add to that the sense of intimacy and exclusivity that a small studio can bring. Which reminds me that I can play the role of engineer only, or help with production as well. Mixing, mastering and production are all different services I can provide individually or as a bundle.
With a small environment, the human element is strong. I can mix the right amount of technical knowledge and people skills to extract the best results possible from the musicians who seek my services.
I’m more than happy to scope out any combination of these roles as the client desires. Besides the technical knowledge, I have enough music background to assist with arrangements and production as well. Some clients want me to stick to the technical engineering domain and that is fine.
Keep in mind that while the music starts with the musicians, all tone shaping that happens in between – which is why you go to a studio – can make or break the song.
The rise of the machines
Audio technology is evolving at a rapid pace. What is your point of view on the increased use of plugins and other artificial intelligence driven services in music production ?
To be honest, some of these tools – if well used – can be time savers. But human experience and intuition is still needed – and will always be needed – to produce a result which can be enjoyed by other humans.
I recently tried submitting one of my mixes to an online mastering service based on AI. I gathered some colleagues from the industry and did a blind test. There was a general preference towards the mastering I had done.
The general rule of thumb with the modern technology is minimising the use of plugins and effects while recording. Total focus on great music performance and professional quality of audio capture. This is an essential element of music production which was made easier with technology, but was not changed in its essence since this industry started decades ago.
Growing and adapting
How can you accomodate a full band ? Can you go mobile ? Do you have plans to expand ?
We can go mobile for sure. Drums are normally a challenging instrument to record if you can’t afford a studio with room treatment. But technology these days allow you to replace the drum sound recorded in your garage with studio level sounding drums. Triggers and drum replacement are therefore one of the techniques we can use if the band’s environment is not ideal.
On a recent project we recorded a full drum set using 10 microphones in a garage, and then replaced the sound later. It makes the mixing process a bit trickier, and that’s where my experience can really make a difference.
In the future we might move the studio to a bigger house. This will allow me to have a dedicated space in the garage, with proper sound treatment to record a full band including drums.
For more information
You can find Boris at New World Audio Production Studios online. From there you can find more specific information on his approach, samples of his past work, and a full list of the gear he uses. You can also check them out on YouTube and social media.
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