With combined worldwide artist sales of over 50 million albums in his back pocket, engineer/producer/mixer Michael Wagener’s credit list is a who’s who of the hard rock/heavy metal world. From Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeth to Metallica and Alice Cooper, he knows how to get sounds that make heads bang and speakers crank. We caught up with him recently amidst construction of his brand new “green” studio to find out more about not only the room, but what was going inside of it.
Q: Tell us about your new facility...
A: We started construction of the new studio at the beginning of September 2008. The control room is 30’ X 22’ X 11’, the tracking room is 22’x20’x11’, so it’s quite a big bigger than the “old” studio. It’s big enough to track a whole band at the same time, which is very important to me. We are using a lot of “green” in the construction, like Bamboo flooring, LED lighting and cotton insulation in the walls. The main goal is to provide a creative and comfortable environment to make music, with a modern technical approach.
Q: Whats the main console/recording platform?
A: The centerpiece is the latest version of Steinberg’s Nuendo and a SSL AWS900+LE analog console/DAW controller, which will also take care of the analog summing for otherwise ITB mixes. I do a lot of recording workshops, and it seems engineers can relate to an analog console quite easily. It’s also nice to be able to add analog mixing to the services I can offer with the studio. The DAW operations will be shared by the SSL and the Euphonix MC Pro controller, both of which will be installed in a custom console.
Q: Why build a new building versus finding one already done?
A: I am building the new studio on the back of my property, which means my commute to the studio is very short, saves time and energy. It also means I’ll finally have a creative, inspiring studio after my own taste, and I can build it exactly how I envision it. All those years working in different studios all over the world, have given me some pretty good ideas on what I like and don’t like in a creative environment. Also, with today’s mixing via MP3s, sometimes clients won’t attend the mixing sessions and want me to send MP3s to them somewhere else in the world. That means I will have to wait for them to get back to me with their comments, especially if they are overseas on a different time zone, and I much rather do the “waiting” at home. It will provide me with a much more flexible schedule.
Q: Which NHTs do you use?
A: Right now I have a pair of M-00 in my “Studio B” setup at my house. For the new studio I will get three more M00s and an S-20 sub for a full 5.1 as an alternate surround system.
Q: What do they provide you that makes you put them in the new studio?
A: They sound very accurate, not hyped at all. When mixing in surround, you can’t check your mixes on headphones, so it is important to have speakers you can rely on, that’s why I call them “the best headphones in the world”.