Euphonic Studio ™

Recording studio and music instruction adventures since 1979

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Announcement: Welcome to the Euphonic Studio Blog!

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Euphonic Studio, a full-service recording studio with video capabilities located in Mount Vernon, Iowa serving Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Coralville, Marion,  and the surrounding area with top quality recordings in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere at affordable prices.  We have the best of both digital and analog worlds along with a professional grand piano (Mason & Hamlin) and Hammond organ with Leslie for your use.  We feature award-winning recording equipment such as RME Fireface UFX, Focusrite ISA 428, Michael Joly custom mics, Octava, R0de, Urei, Lexicon, TC Electronics,  Aphex, Alesis, Yamaha, Warm,  Audio-Technica, DBX, Shure, Allen & Heath, JBL, Crown, Otari, as well as software products Cakewalk Sonar Platinum, Cubase 8, Sony Vegas Pro 13, Celemony Melodyne, and plugins too numerous to list. We have a wide variety of fretted and unfretted string instruments, synthesizers, and amplifiers available for your use.

You are welcome and encouraged to arrange a free tour of our facility and evaluate our recordings.  You can get a feel for what we do here and what I’ve done as a musician by listening to the recording samples in the “Euphonic Studio Artists” link to the right.

For more information please write bill@euphonic.us or phone 319.895.8002.

Bill Niemi, Euphonic Studio Engineer

Bill Niemi, Euphonic Studio engineer, music instructor, arranger, and composer.

Looking for information about music lessons?

Please visit our lessons site, www.euphonic.us 

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Written by Mr. Bill

June 14th, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Sign up for the Euphonic Studio newsletter

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Euphonic StudioThanks for visiting our website!

To keep up to date on new releases, opportunities for musicians, gear updates and reviews, and general happenings in the studio and with our clients, please sign up for our newsletter in the form below.

We promise the following:

1. We will never share your email with anyone else!
2. We will never spam you or ask you for money!
3. We will never advocate for outside interests (political or otherwise)!
4. You may unsubscribe at any time!

Thanks for joining!

Bill & Lori Niemi
Euphonic Studio LLC

Please enter your email in the box below and then click the Sign me up! button.  You will receive an email asking you to confirm that you wish to be added to the list.  If you don’t see it within a minute or so, please check your spam folder… sorry about the inconvenience.

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Written by Mr. Bill

January 8th, 2015 at 11:43 am

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Happy New Year and Thanks for Your Business

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At this time of the year we always tend to look back over the prior year and take stock of our journey through life.  Euphonic Studio is a very big part of my life and I am grateful and humbled by the talented and wonderful people who have entrusted me to teach them how to play their instrument or to record their music.  I am well aware that there are other choices for these services;  your loyalty drives me to work on continuous improvement to earn your repeat business.

So first off, thanks to my students and their families.  I love teaching you and I look forward to my teaching days as new opportunities to help you with breakthroughs on your instrument and your understanding and appreciation of music.  My relationship with my students is interesting; lessons take a lot out of me physically but I get energy back on some other level.  It’s a mystery but I love it!

2012 was a very busy year in the studio.  We put out a 14 song CD of music created by David R. Weiss of Minneapolis and performed by Sara and Jim Klosterboer.  It’s a lovely work called “To the Tune of a Welcoming God”,  the same title as the book it accompanies.  This project preoccupied me for much of the summer into the fall when mastering was completed.

The year started out with another CD project of 11 songs, but unfortunately the band lost its guitarist and broke up before the project could be completed.

Besides the two CD projects, we had a number of other artists and clients through the recording studio this year for one or more sessions.  Not mentioning these in any particular order, but here are most of them (if I forget anybody I’ll come back and fix it):  Lisa Tracy, Dick Hakes, Angie Cannon,  Derrick Patterson, former bandmate Steve Pawlenty via email, Doralyn Bigelow,  Kaitlin Thune, Seamus Taylor, Todd Hammen,  Mike Michalski,  Brianna Schwenk and Lyndsey Reis for the Catherine McCauley Center, Sean Moore, the Underground Affair band  and of course my own projects.  I hope I haven’t missed anyone.

Other recordings here included two spoken word recordings, one by author Dr. Molli Marti, the other by Reiki massage practitioner Shari Stevens of Iowa city.

In the equipment/software department, we made a couple of quantum leaps this year.  I purchased an Otari half track tape machine and now master to analog tape.  This is an order of magnitude better than mastering to digital.  The process is a bit arcane but prospective clients are welcome to come over for a demonstration if this interests you.

The other addition is a set of Alesis DM5 Pro drum pads with some extra cymbals.  The kit can be played into either an Alesis DM5 head or a Yamaha RM50 head, and I am in the process of integrating this set into being able to play samples on the recording computer in real time through an Alesis Trigger IO module.  Stay tuned, I’ll let you know when it’s up and running.

The most notable software addition was the purchase of Toontrack’s Superior Drummer 2.0, which I hope to be playing in real time with the pads shortly.  This is an amazing drum tool, and a wonderful addition to the studio.

Hot projects on the list right now are finishing up the cast recordings for “Tick Tick Boom” which we hope to do in January.

Thank you all for a wonderful growth year for Euphonic Studio.  Your business is appreciated and we love all of you!

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Written by Mr. Bill

January 1st, 2013 at 12:43 pm

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Memorial Day, 2012

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Written by Mr. Bill

May 27th, 2012 at 9:40 am

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Sticky: Please “Like” Euphonic Studio

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As you may have noticed, there is a lot of content here; some of it may be useful to people looking for a place to record, or perhaps trying to track down a long lost bandmate.

If you are “into” social media, please use the gizmo to the left to promote this site.  We thank you in advance!

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Written by Mr. Bill

May 26th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

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Euphonic Studio Recording Buzz

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Two weekend recording sessions have yielded extraordinary results for our artist Lisa Tracy.  Yes, I do the techie stuff and sometimes some playing but mostly they play the tracks.  And what tracks they played!

Lisa Tracy warming up for recording at Euphonic Studio

Lisa Tracy warms up for recording at Euphonic Studio (photo credit to Mike Tracy)

On Friday, Lisa Tracy came in for a couple of hours to do a beautiful recording of her song “Laying Claim to My Deliverance”.  She did the song in two takes; one for the guitar and one for the voice.  In the past we have recorded both the guitar & voice at the same time as our general procedure but lately we have been tracking the voice separately which gives me much better control over the end result.

One thing I have been doing that is somewhat controversial is recording her guitar in stereo instead of mono.  There are differing opinions about this in the engineering world but in my opinion if you are simply tracking a vocal and guitar, and you have a controlled environment, you ought to at least try recording in stereo.  I use a pair of Octava MK-012-01 in an X-Y configuration at approximately the 14th fret and slightly above the fretboard line.  I find that combination with my Focusrite Prepack ISA 428 yields outstanding results.  The stereo image of the guitar provides more interest, in my opinion, and creates the illusion that you are very near the performer, which is what Lisa wants with these recordings.

Mike Upah in Euphonic Studio

Mike Upah in Euphonic Studio with his Pork Pie handmade drums

 

Euphonic Studio has been blessed or lucky or something.  We have had the nicest folks through here, fine musicians who have a clear vision of what they want and the chops and tenacity to get it done.  It would be great if we could repeat this last weekend with Lisa Tracy

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Written by Mr. Bill

March 12th, 2012 at 8:28 am

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Euphonic Studio acquires Steve Vai’s early mixer

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A Piece of Fusion/Rock Music History

Steve Vai's CMC 24

Steve Vai's CMC 24, or so it is purported to be. If it is, cool. If not, meh.

Euphonic Studio now owns the Allen, Heath & Brenell CMC 24 mixer and accessories purported to have been originally owned by Steve Vai. This, of course, if true, does not affect anything about it other than the fact that it has a connection to one of the top living guitarists on the planet. (And consummate gentleman, artist, scholar, and Renaissance man).

I should QUICKLY add that I have not yet received confirmation of this from Steve Vai himself; I am going by the word of the seller who tells a convincing story of having purchased the mixer and a Fostex 16 track tape deck from Steve Vai. Steve Vai indeed did own a Fostex 16. I have obtained samples of Steve’s handwriting from the ‘net and compared it to notes in the manual; I am not a graphoanalyist but I can say that there is enough similarity to not rule it out.

So we wait.

Allen and Heath traffic jam

Allen and Heath traffic jam? No, just a groovy sort of reunion between two somewhat rare pieces of history

As some of my customers know, I use a CMC24 for analog summing, the last step before mixdown to stereo. This mixer allows me to take 24 outs from my digital system, mix them in the analog world,  and then send them back to 2 digital inputs to record the mix onto a stereo track. This method is alternate to mixing the digital signals from 24 tracks (or more) “inside the box”, meaning everything is done within the computer’s software tools to mix down to a stereo track.

The topic of analog summing is one that gets people’s dander up. My personal experience is that I can clearly hear a difference and the difference is that analog summing provides improved stereo image, greater depth, more clarity across the whole frequency spectrum, and in short, a much more professional sound. The person who talked me into trying this is the author of Zen and the Art of Mixing which is, as far as I’m concerned, the most authoritative book on mixing that I’ve read. The author, BTW, goes by the name “Mixerman” and if you are in the mixing business and haven’t read this book then I have a distinct advantage over you. That is, unless you have 30 years of experience in the world’s best recording studios and can remember what is pertinent to getting the best mix on each different system you encounter.

CMC 24 Meter Bridge

CMC 24 Meter Bridge - these are nearly impossible to find, so I had a lucky day!

Getting back to the mixer for a moment… the reason I purchased this mixer actually had nothing to do with being a star-struck Vai fanatic (although if you watch this video and don’t end up being at least a jaw-dropping admirer then I’d say maybe there’s something not quite right with your hearing) but actually had to do with the fact that it has a meter bridge and a CMI interface to a COMMODORE 64 COMPUTER! That’s right… you can run this mixer from a Commodore! LOL! I can’t use that in my studio at the moment but I am looking for a Commodore to test it and may sell the CMI interface on eBay to someone who really, really wants it. A&H add-ons for this mixer are very difficult to find. My meter bridge is serial number 005. Since it cost almost $600 in 1988, not too many meter bridges were made. So… the cost of the mixer was worth the cost of the meter bridge, plus I got a spare power supply, a backup mixer, and the Commodore interface. Oh, and it might just have come from Steve Vai’s studio.

CMI interface

CMI interface for connecting the CMC24 to a Commodore computer. This allows you to change signal routing and muting along with the track's time code if you want to demonstrate early automation to propeller-capped pocket-protector types.

Now let me just clarify one thing about the possible Steve Vai connection. This has a lot of meaning to me on some level, but that has NOTHING to do with implying that you are going to sound like Steve Vai if you record here. NO, NO, NO. The way you get to sound like Steve Vai is to practice guitar for 10 hours a day for weeks or months or years on end. That’s how HE did it. Unless you are some kind of savant, you will need to put in the time, too.  And it’s not just TIME… it’s a special form of intellectual discipline that keeps you focused and curious about sound the entire time you are playing.

One last word. You do not have to play at the level of Steve Vai to record good music. You record good music by playing and singing what you know and that has to have a connection with your heart. If your performance comes from the heart, it will be good on some level. After all, music is one way we use to communicate with each other. It is very disappointing to hear a player who does great work but plays very mechanically and carelessly. There’s no communication there; it’s more like being talked down to. Play from your heart with an open heart and you will make great music, whether you have Steve Vai’s chops and mixer or an old cassette deck.

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Written by Mr. Bill

February 28th, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Sticky: Give the gift of music

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Euphonic Studio 11-22-11

Euphonic Studio provides extremely high quality service with industry standard equipment at prices that will amaze you

Do you have a musician or singer on your Christmas shopping list and don’t know what to buy?

Why not give them a gift of recording time in a professional studio?  Euphonic Studio will be happy to discuss gift certificate packages that will fit your budget and give them a chance to hear their performance captured and enhanced on terrific equipment and software and mixed by an experienced professional.

If you are a performer… how about giving your loved ones a CD of your own creation for Christmas? Nothing can be more personal than that.

Call 319.895.8002 or email bill@euphonic.us for information about gift certificates and recording packages.  The low rates will surprise you and the sound will amaze you.

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Written by Mr. Bill

November 22nd, 2011 at 8:19 am

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Euphonic Studio Recording Blog is here!

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Bill and Lori Niemi

Bill and Lori Niemi, co-owners of Euphonic Studio LLC

Having a second website might seem redundant to some, and we already have been using Euphonic.us for nearly a decade.  But since the Euphonic.us website is somewhat static as far as content on music business sites go, I decided to start this one up as a more interactive experience for our visitors.  This site will be much more oriented to the recording part of our business.  You will find a lot of audio and video content created at Euphonic Studio and elsewhere to show how our capabilities have evolved over the years.

We are coming up on the 30th anniversary of Euphonic Studio’s first full length album! My how time flies. I have decided to put up recordings of former bands for a tribute to my former bandmates and a treat for their families. (I hope you enjoy them, too… some of the bands were actually quite polished). I have had such a terrific time re-connected with old friends over the years.  Some of you are still MIA… meaning I haven’t tracked you down yet.  I hope I don’t have to call out Dawg da Bounty Hunter! If you are one of my students or hobbyist friends I hope that hearing this old stuff might pique your curiosity and maybe even move you to get started on that project you always had in mind.  Do  you have an aunt you’ve always promised a recording?  Well, now you can actually afford to do it! More on the this and many topics.

PLEASE CLICK THE EUPHONIC STUDIO SCHEDULER FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION ON OUR SCHEDULE.  IF IT DOESN’T MATCH YOUR SCHEDULE THEN LET’S FIGURE OUT WHO’S WRONG (USUALLY ME) AND FIX IT!

Phone 319.895.8002 for information about recording and scheduling.

email: bill@euphonic.us

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Written by Mr. Bill

June 13th, 2011 at 12:37 pm