When I tell people that we’ve installed two studios for Diane Warren, one of two things occurs. Either they look puzzled and say “Who?” or their jaw drops and they say “Wow! You worked for her?”

For those in the former category, here’s some information about this amazing lady. Simply put, Diane is probably the most successful contemporary songwriter in the business, and her Realsongs is one of the top music publishing companies in the world. Some of her hit songs: (For more on Diane, have a look at her wonderful site, http://www.realsongs.com/)

Song Title Aritst Song Title Artist
“How Do I Live” Leann Rimes “Give Me You” Mary J. Blige
“I’d Lie For You (And That’s The Truth)” Meat Loaf “Have You Ever” Brandy
“Because You Loved Me” Celine Dion “I Don’t Want To Live Without Your Love” Chicago
“If You Asked Me To” Celine Dion “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” Aerosmith
“Love Can Move Mountains” Celine Dion “I Turn To You” Christina Aguilera
“Blame It On The Rain” Milli Vanilli “I’ll Be Your Shelter” Taylor Dayne
“Blue Eyes Blue” Eric Clapton “Live For Loving You” Gloria Estefan
“If I Could Turn Back Time” Cher “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” Starship
“Can’t Take That Away” (Mariah’s Theme) Mariah Carey “Rhythm Of The Night” Debarge
“Could I Have This Kiss Forever” Whitney Houston/
Enrique Iglesias
“Unbreak My Heart” Toni Braxton
“Don’t Take Away My Heaven” Aaron Neville “The One I Gave My Heart To” Aaliyah
“Don’t Turn Around” Ace Of Base “There You’ll Be” (from “Pearl Harbor”) Faith Hill
“Faith Of The Heart” Rod Stewart “Through The Storm” Aretha Franklin & Elton John
“We’re Not Making Love Anymore” Barbra Streisand “Time Love & Tenderness” Michael Bolton
*The songs above are just a fraction of her work. You get the idea.

rs-d-kbdStudio D (and by the way there’s, there’s no studio A, B, or C)
We were first contacted by Mario Luccy, Diane’s engineer in 1999. Realsongs had a beautiful Euphonix room, but there’d been some problems with the original installation, and the studio had accumulated far more equipment than the racks could hold. Rack gear was literally piled to the ceiling, and you had to step over cables to get around. One thing led to another and I soon found myself on the scheduling office with Mario, booking about 2 weeks of downtime to rewire, add a new improved equipment rack, and move the Protools gear into a new machine room.

As you might imagine, Diane’s studio has lots of gear. There’s a 48-channel Protools rig, plus a secondary Protools system. Outboard gear includes a Manley Massive Passive and Voxbox, Finalizer, Orville, M3000, two Vocal Distressors, and seven racks of Euphonix ES-108A dynamics. The huge synth rack has about 25 synths and samplers, with a Kurzweil for the master keyboard, and a “Linn” MPC3000.

Mario and I met with Bob Merrit, a cabinet maker who’s been in the studio business for many years. (Bob is an amazing craftsman, who’s built beautiful studio furniture many of our clients.) Together we sketched out a large double rack for all the synth gear, with an unusual contour. As you can see in the photo, the face of the rack has three sections. The upper and lower thirds of it are “plumb” , but the center is angled back. This gives easy access to the most important gear, without causing the problems on the top and bottom that you’d get with a big angled rack. The engineers like it, and it looks sharp. (Bob’s phone number, by the way, is 323-730-1886.)

We opened up the floor so that all the cables could be re-routed and concealed, and to make a path for all the Protools cables, which now went to another room. The G4 keyboard and mouse stayed (extended with special repeater cables), along with the monitor (extended with a high grade VGA cable).

The patchbays got special attention. There were ten 96-position bays in an low keyboard desk behind the Euphonix. Being close to the floor, the bays had always been a little difficult to see, and as the room grew and the gear changed, the labeling became very confusing. We reviewed every point on the bay, generated new color coded labels with large bold fonts, and replaced them all. Huge difference – especially with the lights dimmed.

rs-d-syn We also came up with a unique talkback mod. Realsongs does a lot of vocal recording, and Mario wanted a way to have two way, hands free communication with singers in the vocal booth. We accomplished it by adding a modified Alesis 3630 compressor/gate, fed from the mono mix buss of the console. A relay was added to the sensing portion of the 3630’s gate circuit, which provides an isolated contact closure when the mix out of the console is “quiet”. The contact closure is connected to the remote talkback of the Euphonix via an enable switch. With the circuit enabled, the engineer’s talkback is activated if the track stops, and the vocalist is not speaking or singing. In that way, the two have hands free communication every time the track stops rolling. If the engineer isn’t physically pressing his talkback button, the two can take turns talking, as if they were on a “speakerphone” call. If the engineer does press talkback, they can speak to each other at the same time. It works well, and makes the vocalist feel a little “closer” to the people in the booth.

As part of the testing process, we checked for background noise on every piece of gear in the room. My procedure is to connect a scope to the mix buss (via a weighted filter) and using a console line in, bring up each output of each device – first with its input shorted, and then with its input patched from another piece of gear. I listen at ear splitting levels while watching the scope. The digital recorders and Protocols must be totally silent, period. The synths, samplers and outboard gear will all have some audible noise of their own (“self noise”), but any possible hum or buzz (“interface noise”) should be buried way, way beneath everything else. If not, we fix it and make it quiet.

The project grew and took a little longer than everyone expected, but it turned out great. The minute we finished, the room went on line with a project, and it’s been busy ever since. And the next thing we knew, we were building another Euphonix room for Diane, “Studio W”. But that’s another story!