Arts & EntertainmentSpotlight

The Art of Audio Engineering

The recording studio is an important part of a musician’s life. Established in the early 1980s, Sound West has been a place for local music and history. This is where all the magic happens; it is a birthplace for art.

If you ever drive down Tacoma Ave., chances are you have seen Sound West Audio and never knew what was behind the front door. When you first walk through the door, the front room of the studio is disguised with a simple amp and pro audio repair shop. Shelves upon shelves of monitors, mixing boards, effects pedals, amps, and all other kinds of different music devices come here to get fixed by Sound West’s repair techs. The shop is what keeps this place thriving, not only financially, but if anything breaks in the studio during a recoding session, the shop can have it fixed right then and there.

When you walk through the repair shop, you will see a studio apartment, fully equipped with a kitchen and a balcony with a grill that overlooks the entire downtown portion of Tacoma. If artists cannot get inspired in this kind of working environment, then they don’t deserve to hold their instruments. Walking past the apartment you come to a hallway that is rich in acoustics, perfect for adding reverb or cathedral-like timbre to a recording. This hallway is really the icing on the cake. The studio itself is very impressive. When you walk into the room, the first thing you’ll see is this massive Soundcraft TS12 mixing board and tower of rack gear. A mixing board and rack gear are a studio’s tools that make or break its efficiency. Think of the mixing board as the engine and the rack gear to be the transmission of a high-performance racecar. The Soundcraft mixing board is wired so that it runs through a patch bay that goes underneath the floor and up into the racks and the recording models. This makes the studio very clean; you can hardly see any cables in the room.

Audio engineer Andrew “The Doctor’s In” Nalty explains, “When you think about this place it is a living breathing entity. It’s got its control system with its neural system. It’s all wired into the body of this beautiful house.”

The tracking room is where musicians set up their amps, drums, and other equipment to play their songs for the recordings. Sound West’s tracking room is huge, and has plenty of space even if a band wanted to record live. They also have isolation blocks to deaden the sound space so if one person wanted to record at a time they could do so. The track room is an essential part of the studio experience. Software is another aspect of the studio that is vital to a great record. The engineer needs to be proficient in the software that they use in order to effectively do their job.

When asked what kind of software is used, audio engineer Tristan McNabb said, “For my setup I use Cubase because the workflow is a little more straight forward for me and little easier to deal with. With Pro Tools you have to do the dual monitor thing and it’s easier for me to get at things with that program.”

Many musicians dream of going into the studio and making a record that will define their career. Here at Sound West Audio, you could very well do just that. Be sure to check them out on Tacoma Avenue.