Industry Profile: Sweetwater Studios | Music Connection Magazine
I recently had the chance to meet Sweetwater Studios engineer-producer Shawn Dealey, one of the many talented engineers and musicians on staff at the world-class recording complex located in Fort Wayne, IN. Shawn was able to tell me about his background and work at Sweetwater Studios world-class recording facility:
“I spent 15 years traveling the road as a front of house engineer and studio owner operator when at home I ended up doing live production work for Sweetwater in 2017. asked to join Sweetwater to help produce their live events and eventually joined the team as a producer and engineer for Sweetwater Studios.
“Sweetwater Studios operates as a self-contained commercial recording studio at the center of the Sweetwater Sound complex. Here at Sweetwater Studios, an artist can enjoy one of the largest palettes of sonic choices in the world, allowing them to create music Sweetwater Studios’ primary goal is to create the most welcoming creative environment possible while providing world-class creative tools, all in a space where the artist feels free to create without distractions. We make sure we are always able to facilitate seamless sessions where technology does not get in the way of the creative process.
“Sweetwater Studios has a full staff of creative professionals to ensure that the artist’s creative process is not hampered by technology, allowing our artists to always have a great recording session and do their best creative work. We believe that whatever music you’re working on, it helps to have the right equipment; and we’re in a unique position to offer an incredible range of options because we’re part of the Sweetwater family. I am a trained drummer, and at Sweetwater Studios we have one of the largest selections of drums and accessories to choose from, so we can always [provide] a drum kit setup that adapts to the player for the exact musical style they are working on.
“At Sweetwater Studios, we know that every project is different. From the initial engagement, we try to learn and observe the artist’s vision and get a clear picture of what they are trying to accomplish. A lot of projects we start by talking to an artist about their music and their creative goals. At Sweetwater Studios, we constantly engage and interact with musicians and artists to find people to engage with who might not be aware of the full range of creative services we offer.
“Sweetwater Studios was open for in-person sessions for most of the pandemic and we learned a lot about how to keep sessions safe. We organize sessions “by mail” or remotely; for example, we recently did the drum track for Steve Hackett of Genesis fame, who was in the UK while we were recording in Fort Wayne. The studio also creates music and content for Sweetwater’s marketing channels. That said, the primary goal of Sweetwater Studios is to get people to come to Fort Wayne to enjoy live music recording and content creation right here in the studio. We really want our customers to come to Fort Wayne to do “in-room” recordings. We also get a lot of professional musicians coming here from Nashville so they can be immersed in the creative process without distractions.
“Our clients also have the opportunity to work on their tracks in their own project studios and then come to us to bring their artistic vision to fruition. We get a lot of repeat customers, as many of our clients return for sessions and are satisfied with Sweetwater Studios’ comprehensive on-site recording and production services.
“One of the ways we scout for new projects is by tracking Midwest tours and staying in touch with artists and people we know who are on the road. We tend to get a lot of projects through recording workshop participants who want to come and do a recording session after spending time with us at a session. In our recording workshops, we go from nut soup on how to set up and manage a recording session and we walk our students through the entire recording process, from concept to completion.
“At Sweetwater Studios, we also have access to great in-house musicians, as well as some of the best first-call session musicians in the industry. While some of our clients send in their demo arrangement to work on tracks core with our in-house session musicians, we’re always trying to present the opportunity for songwriters to enjoy the process of humans recording music together. We’re always looking for ways to get real people to play and to record their basic songs here in the studio.
“In Studio A, we take great pride in our fully-featured Neve 5088 32-channel recording console. It’s the centerpiece of the studio that ties the room together. With the help of Jumperz Audio, we installed and it went well. We recently posted a time-lapse video of the installation. We stripped the board from the frame and ordered the console ourselves, allowing our team to have a full understanding of every aspect of the console. It was a really satisfying experience plugging it in and turning it on for the first time. The Neve 5088 is the heart of Studio A and makes the whole atmosphere that much more impressive.
“We recently renovated Studio B into an all-PMC room, 9.4 Dolby Atmos, which was completed in early April. We had our first large-scale project and we are now crossing the bridge to multi-channel content creation. We’ve set up Dante connections from Studio A to Studio B specifically to record for Dolby Atmos and we’re learning how to facilitate a spatial audio workflow. Thanks to our close relationships with equipment manufacturers such as Dolby, PMC, Hazelrigg Industries and Avid, we can leverage the talents of some of the most creative people in the industry and transform our studio into one of the kitchens of most advanced test for tracking, mixing and mastering spatial audio workflow in the industry. We have a unique ability to make Studio B a playground for multi-channel content creation.
“Studio C is set up for mixing and overdubbing. It’s designed to be a flexible space and we get a lot of producers and artists who use the space to work on tracks or mix and master their projects. We keep vocal mics on hand in both iso rooms.
“We strive to keep the workflow at our facility as streamlined as possible, and with three rooms, we maintain the exact same IT and software setup with the same selection of plugins tailored to each platform, making it easy to move Sessions between studio A, B or C if needed Software is consistent between each room, which adds to the overall flexibility of our setup.
“Sweetwater’s 250-seat capacity theater features a versatile tie-line into Studio A, making it possible to follow live concerts, host streaming events and more while recording live. real time in studio A. The theater essentially becomes an additional space to follow and record live music.
“We’re proud of Sweetwater Studios, and we truly believe that once you experience what we have to offer, you’ll want to make your next record here! Pricing varies by project.
Contact Sweetwater Studios at 800-386-6134 or [email protected] for a custom quote. Learn more at: sweetwaterstudios.com