Despite getting a late start compared to most involved in music, Studio Baumhaus’ fascination with melody, voice and rhythm was instilled from an extremely age. Upon finally picking up a keyboard at age 16, the teenage musician quickly set about writing his own songs and fine-tuning them for his first trip to a recording studio.
“I recorded my first album in a ‘pro’ studio when I was still 16 and it was really frustrating because I spent all this money on a recording that ended up sounding like a cheap demo,” he says of his initial studio experience. “A few months later with new (and marginally better) songs in tow, I booked time at one of the top studios in Houston, and once again it sounded like ass, but it was much more expensive ass this time.”
While the studio owner knew his songs could use improvement, he also knew the studios and producers he was working with weren’t doing him any favors. Armed with acoustic foam, a few preamps and some inexpensive microphones, he started working in his parent’s pool house, listening to classic recordings and trying to recreate their magic on his own projects.
Pleased with his pool house efforts, he was certain that he could achieve great tracks on his own. However, there were limitations to working in a 300 square foot room. There was a need for expansion. Cue what he calls his “Field of Dreams” moment.
“There came a point when all of a sudden I knew I had to build a studio of this caliber,” the studio owner says. “I knew it had to be big and have a certain vibe to it with a large assortment of instruments and mics. It had to have an analog console and 2-inch machine. I wanted the ability to control all transport functions from anywhere in the studio. It had to be an artist's dream studio.”
In his search to find his first analog console, the budding studio owner stumbled upon Vintage King during a Google search. Enter Vintage King co-owner Mike Nehra. After listening ideal console qualities and educating him on the sounds of different desks, Nehra made a few suggestions, including the Wunderbar from Texas-based Wunder Audio.
Sent out on a personal fact-finding mission, the studio owner went to Austin to test out each console, per Nehra’s advice. “The Wunder was actually the last of the three consoles that I test drove. Right when I walked in the room and sat down in front of it, I knew it was 'the one.'" he says of his first impressions of the Wunderbar. After spending some time at the desk, the studio owner fell in love with the console’s “delicious sound,” simple design and easy-to-use controls.
“Later that month, Vintage King actually sent me some of the modules from two of the different consoles I tried so I could compare them side by side. When I heard the EQ of the Wunder PEQ2, it was unreal how natural it sounded,” he states. “I later picked up an album that had some of its songs mixed on the Wunder, and it was exactly what I was looking for... Big, open, airy, excellent stereo width, and massive low end. I was completely sold.”
With a console selected, the building of Baumhaus studio continued under the guidance of Skip Burrows and Martin Pilchner. With an aesthetic dubbed “modern vintage,” the studio’s philosophy quickly became about counterbalancing old with new. Whether it was the recording gear, the furniture or the physical building itself, the team worked to bring elements from both worlds to his new studio.
Continuing his budding relationship with Vintage King by teaming with Sales Rep Jeff Leibovich, he began sampling more gear in an effort to decide what to bring into his new space. “I love the fact that Vintage King mails you the gear you're interested in and lets you try before you buy,” the studio owner says. With carts full of unique vintage pieces and modern essentials, Baumhaus picked up a wide array of gear from a Spitz ATR 102 and Studer A827 to ATC 300 monitors and a whole host of classic Neumann pieces.
After taking nearly a half decade to build out the space, work has finally ended on the studio. First up in the process of perfecting the space are recording sessions with a few local acts, some orchestral sessions and a big band project.
Once he's done testing the room’s capabilities and working out any kinks, it’s his turn. “I'll initially use the studio to record a backlog of ideas I've been working on,” he states. “But a space like this is meant to be shared and in the not too distant future hopefully others will record here and find it as inspiring as I do.”