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Back from Hiatus!

Okay, admittedly, it’s been a while.

No, we weren’t in Prison… or Rehab… or hiding from lawyers in Mexico.

(Been to Mexico lately? Can you say “bumpy?”)

Many of you followed along while we built our “Underground Bunker” studio. It went from a lot of planning and organized construction practices to a well-performed “palace of solitude”… for about a minute.

We suffered a system crash and lost a lot of posts, so you’re gonna have to bear with us. We’ll get the photos of the studio back up asap.

But I digress;

The word got out on what we were doing, as we were doing it.

And… then along comes a crew of guys from Atlanta in SUV’s decked out like Saudi Palaces on Wheels… and the entire project changed hands.

We got the basics built and then the NEW owners took over.

Like Steve Miller says;

“Go On, take the money and run…”

WE didn’t get a heap of cash, but we got what we needed.

And now… we live “somewhere else”. I’ll give you a hint as to where that is;

elk2

And you know what that means… say it with me…

Home Studio - REV5Another Studio Project!

We’ve partnered with several Cats that  you need to meet, as we begin building the ultimate Man Cave.  We’re gonna bring in the crew at Elegant Insanity, a few custom amp gurus, a sound tech that makes those guys at NASA look like trained chimps and a few guitar luthiers that will make you salivate to the point of drowning yourself in your own spit…

Follow along, campers as we build  a box that rocks, as the “transition” to a migration that will ultimately move us even further up into the mountains to a stand-alone studio that will make the studios we’ve built in the past look like “poplar playgrounds”.

You keep looking at them harem beds, don’t ya? Well, it’s not where my guitars sleep. It ain’t even for my “gaggle of groupies”.

Ever been on a tour bus? ‘Course you have. Ever see how they build in those bunks for the roadies to get some much needed rest in? ‘Course you have. Well, we’re gonna do the same thing, with just a bit more panache.

Can you say; “Better Digs?”

This is the land where you can sit on the porch and play “Uncle Ted” as loud as you want to and the elk just stare at you… I guess they like Teddie, too! 🙂

Stay tuned.

Okay, we’re gonna rebuild, after a dramatic data crash.

You know, you think everything is going smoothly and then you get cocky… and somebody pulls the plug when you ain’t looking.

The blog took a pretty solid hit and we lost a lot of posts. We’ll restore them as time allows.

In the meantime, we’re going to start bringing you up to date and letting you look through the windows at the new digs.

We’ve moved from “hither to yon”. We’ve changed the way we work and even the client base. We’ve changed the latitude and longitude that we hail from. In fact, we’ve gone through so many changes that you might not recognize us! 🙂

Can you “hide” a guitar lab, a sound room, a podcasting operation, a media room and a “guest crew apartment” in a basement?

“YES – YOU – CAN!”

Stay tuned.

Okay, okay!!

Well, it’s been about a month since my last post, so I guess that an “update” is in order, huh?

After extensive conversations with manufacturers and an certain acoustical designer, it’s clear to me that in order to achieve my goals, I need to raise some serious cash. In fact, the truth be told, my budget has almost quadrupled since inception, even with us doing the lions share of the work, construction wise.

We’re in the process of connecting two separate buildings together, to form a large rectangular complex, that will allow recording and administrative spaces to reside side by side.

That has been hampered by delays, primarily in the “planning and zoning” end of the world, as the inspectors don’t know quite what to think about the fact that we’re connecting 40′ shipping containers together with masonry and concrete.

The end result is going to be almost 3000 square feet of recording facility, with enough room to do everything but record “orchestral epic soundtracks.”

Right now, we’re excavating the area out between the two “buildings,” so that we can build the box that will interconnect them. It sounded easy on paper, but it’s proved a sizable challenge. I feel like a dentist trying to fill a cavity. Literally.

Once we get into the “serious” part of deconstruction and reconstruction, I’ll start posting photographs so that you can see the progress. I think you’ll find it real interesting.

Stay tuned!

Okay…

So I was just hangin’ out in the Recording Studio Design forums lately, looking for some good “intel” on some sweet gear, and out of the blue (well, actually out of Corsica, PA) some really nice 3D drawings dropped out of the sky, and fell right into my lap!

Not just any 3D, but 3D of the Man Cave!

Now, here’s what I’m doing… I’m trying to figure out how much space I actually have now, so that I can determine how best to use the space. In the beginning, things got screwed up quickly, because I was in the WRONG space.

But, a few talks with Wes Lachot, and some more conversations with pals (who are paid to know better but still answer the phone when I call!) got me back on the right track!

FYI:

When I draw stuff, it looks like this. I’m kinda hesitant to show you this now, because the work that follows makes it look like bad graffiti under a bridge!

mancaveoneThe studio IS going to be up front, on the leading edge of the complex. It is going to be a ramblin’ man, travelin’ from front to wherever, by building a connecting annex between two warehouses, to make it one continuous space.

It IS going to make it possible to have not only a nice CR and live space, but some cool office space, and utility areas, as well. And, if I play my cards right, we’ll end up with a  lounge poolside. (Hey, it’s a lap pool, but it’s STILL wet…) 🙂

Welcome to the cavern that is… “The Man Cave!”

mca3It’s 1,800 square feet of total “Rock ‘N’ Roll” heaven, that’s what it is!

mca2I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner! Now we’re cookin!

mca1Ain’t it SWEEEEEEEE-EET?

Makes me so proud that I could just swell up and be dead until the wee hours of the morning!

But, it’s time to pay credit where credit is due, so here’s the “real deal;”

Although the recording studio design is solely mine (so I can’t blame anyone but myself), the 3D work is based on the talent of  Dave Hawk at Hawk Pro Media! Dave is a “giver,” and he’ll help you any way that he can! To use his exact words;

“If I can be of any help to you down the road, don’t hesitate to give me a shout!  I’ve got a hell of a linecard of mics, monitors, & signal processing, etc.  – if you’re into new stuff.”

So, consider this a hearty endorsement from “the Morons at The Man Cave!”

Dave, we appreciate you! And, we’ll send some business your way, to say a hearty thanks!

Now, I gotta get back to work. The sound guy is lookin like he’s runnin low on his “crazy meds” again… 🙂

Rock it if ya got it!

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Work progresses on the Man Cave!

Even though I’m on the road a lot lately, we’re heading in the right direction.

Several things have been defined;

First, this “open discussion”  about Man Cave Audio’s new studio that we’re having on the Internet seems to be finding a “niche.” We’ve gotten over 10,000 new readers in the last ten days. We’re measuring by tracking new IP addresses. Frankly, that just amazes me… That makes over 30,000 of you guys  and gals! I guess that there is something to this “Cyber stuff” after all! 🙂

On the “homefront” the work progresses steadily. While I’m out raising money for this damned money pit, the work seems to be falling into place  and it’s starting to take shape.  Hey, a pit IS a shape… right? 🙂

We’re definitely gonna use the front two warehouses, and build an annex between them, as a “connector.” There’s already a small 16′ x’ 16′ office there to build off of,  that mostly just serves as an access point for the “barracks” located in the basement. It’ll just house a desk and a babe…  I haven’t decided which one, but we’re accepting “applications!” 😉

FYI: The “barracks” is just a small crash pad (tucked out of the way) designed for  use by people my wife won’t let in the house!!!

Using these warehouses allows Man Cave to have a live space that is almost 1000 square feet. It grants us space for a medium sized control room, housing a Duality 48ch slab, with several racks stuffed full of goodies. Several conversations with both Don and George at SSL (email and phone), and conversations with pals overseas…  (the Peter, Peter, and Pete show) have basically closed the deal for me, where the Duality is concerned.

It gives us a decent sized ISO booth, with the potential for a “flip-down” podcast desk built in.

It gives us a nice flow, a cool vibe, and decent airlocks. We’ll build an exterior airlock to allow equipment handling from “outside.”

Here’s an idea that we’re batting around;

mca-update042209

We’ll cut the skylights out of the front warehouse, and use the wall extensions that already exist to help frame a “roof lift” that will allow us another 5-8 feet of air at least, allowing the drums to breathe.

(The exact height has yet to be determined. The math geeks will determine the number.)

The control room will be the same height as the live space, and we’ll build an office over it (accessed from the lobby), to allow business to take place as usual.

This layout is very similar to several places I already play, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to accomplish.

The biggest question is that of cash, or… the lack thereof. The budget has tripled since I started this, and it’s headed for quadrupled.

wes_lachotMay should bring Wes Lachot on board as the  official “Man Cave Audio Project” designer of record, and this most assuredly means that all of my scratchings and “brilliant sketches” will probably go right into the trash (where they probably belong), but we’ll see what happens… I know that Man Cave Audio will blossom under Wes’s care, everything that guy touched turns to “GOLD.” If you don’t believe me, go look at his website. It’s just freakin incredible! I got mad love for the guy!

And I want to publicly thank a pal of mine down Mexico way… you might remember him from both “Baby’O Recorders”  (if you’ve been playing the LA Music scene for as long as some of us “old dawgs”) and his US and Latin based top-ten hits including his  #1 hit “Cuando Mueres por Alguien, and Billboard Award Winner “You’ve Got It Baby’O “…

babyo1Rafael Villafane!

“Bud, you’ve been a great help to me, and I appreciate your advice and the fact that you’re willing to share your wisdom! Thanks, Bro!”

And now you know…

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Man, it’s nice  to be famous!

The exploits of the Man Cave crew are starting to get attention!

Not only have about 20,000 of you guys and gals taken a sneak peak in the last month, we’re getting contacted by people wanting to get in on the act. We actually have manufacturers who want us to use their stuff, so that they can be a part of the Man Cave Experience.

Man, just saying that makes me feel like Jimi… and I’m too old to start doing acid… especially that “blue stuff…” 🙂

I know that some of you have no idea what I’m talking about, but those of you old enough to remember Woodstock do… right? 🙂

Man Cave Audio is a recording studio suite, built into the earth. Duh! Everybody already knows that! But did you know that it will be totally self-contained? That’s right! It doesn’t matter if the grid falls off into chaos, or civilization breaks down, or even if Sharon Osbourne shows up screaming at the front gate…

sharon_osbourne_grabs_anastaciaDon’t ask…I just feel for Ozzie!

Nothing will stop The Man Cave from operating!

(Okay, almost nothing will stop us from working… except… maybe if we run out of frosty cold beverages and pizza…) 🙂

The Man Cave will get all of it’s power from the sun. Okay, I’m lying. It will get MOST of it’s power from the sun. The rest of it will come from french fries. Ever hear of “Bio-Fuel?”

No, it’s not a “Red Bull” copycat drink. In fact, I doubt you could stomach the stuff!

We make “bio-fuel” here on the farm, to power everything with a diesel motor.  Bio-fuel is made from used vegetable oil.  The only part of this process that really sucks, is that everything you drive smells like french fries. So, you’re constantly hungry! 🙂

biofuel-100galsperday

And what do we drive? Well, you already know that we ride. There are more than a few Harley’s here, but they’re not part of our GREEN theme (unless you count “envy”).

blue-by-you

“Blue-By-You”:  131 cubic inches of “fast-faster-oh crap” fun!

We drive regular vehicles, just like everyone else. Well, almost normal except that they are all diesels. This includes a rebuilt Cadillac Pickup truck (an “Insurance Total” we rescued, and then dropped a monster supercharged diesel into), a old HUMMER Wagon (from the 90’s… the BIG Hummer, not one of those sissy H2’s), a tractor or three (Green Acres is the place for me… as long as I ain’t gotta be married to that crazy Gabor!), (2) SUV’s (because you gotta go for groceries), and a Volkswagen coupe that breathes fire. (Just ask those “sissy tuners” that we blew off the road last month in Florida! ) We had a Prius that we “hotrodded,” but it died.  And every one of them runs on “Man Cave Juice!” It also powers our “auxiliary generators.” These “redundant” generators make additional power, when we need to push the sun’s bounty. After all, photovoltaic panels don’t work too well at night!

The air conditioning system is kinda novel too. It’s called “Geothermal HVAC.” We pump water  into the ground, use the earths coolness to chill it off, and then we pump it out into a tank that air lines pass thru. This in turn chills the air.  A fan then moves the air to the spaces we need it in. It’s an almost  totally passive system, if you consider that the pumps and fans required are electric, and they get power from… that’s right… the sun.

Why would we do this? Well…

A conventional HVAC systems rely on oil, natural gas, or electricity to regulate the environment, and that’s a really inefficient use of energy. Conventional HVAC systems can also adversely affect workplace productivity and affect the health of the people working there. Now, a recording studio is a funny place, where you need your eyes to work properly, and your vocal cords to be clear (unless you’re Joe Cocker, I suppose! Sorry Joe!)  Indoor air quality has become a major concern for management and slaves… um…er… workers.  We just felt real weird about locking employees into an airtight building that didn’t allow proper circulation. I can’t tell you how many studios I’ve been in that felt like stifling, toxic, and germ infested laboratories. (And that’s just while the “ponytails” were there!) 🙂

geothermal1Geothermal HVAC does not rely on any combustible fuels to condition the environment. Geothermal energy harnesses the natural energy resources that lie below the earth. To accomplish this, you drive  several PVC pipe loops  beneath the property to circulate water into the system. At the right depth, the Earth’s natural temperature is a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The designed system pumps water through the piping where it is either heated or cooled to 70 degrees, depending upon the season.

The water then moves through narrow heat exchanger coils inside the air circulation machines. Fans blow fresh air upwards through this heat-exchanger and into the buildings duct system. The result is a comfortable work environment for all the occupants, be they musicians or lackeys! 🙂

With a geothermal HVAC system, you can also realize significant long term returns on your initial investment into your facility. In a conventional build, you’d see this in your utility bills, but passive benefits such as a healthy workplace, and decreased absenteeism, are also seen by owners of these types of buildings.(Okay, so our guys still plead “Hangover!” but they can’t blame it on the air.)  In our case, we’ll stay cool, and we simply won’t use as much power. And since we produce the power ourselves, it means what we do produce, will go farther.

Remember that this works both ways. In the summer, it cools the air off. In the winter, it heats the air up! I’ve been monitoring the temperatures in the warehouses for almost a year, and they seldom move far from  68 degrees. So, whatever “bump” we require, will be minimal.

The heat for the facility is assisted by radiant in-floor heating, a system by which heated liquid is pumped into tubes buried in the floor slab, to slowly radiate heat up through the thermal mass slab.

Now, I’d like to take credit for this, but the original builder needed  “temperature stable” spaces, so he installed it himself. Solar panels heats the liquid, and Photovoltaic panels power the pumps. Once again, very few moving parts, and that means almost NO maintenance. All we did was beef up the panels and the pumps, to increase the “turnover” response.

It’s a technique where the heat is always in the comfort zone, and the only thing it requires is a heat source for  the liquid. And that heat source is the sun. The “radiant tank” is charged by panels that work just like a solar hot water heating system.

radiant-heatSee the difference?

But that’s not all…

Every Recording Studio needs isolation. You know the kind I’m talking about, right? Not the “look, we’re trying to work here, so why don’t you just bugger off” kinda isolation, although it does come to that sometimes. I’m talking about “acoustical isolation.” The studio is covered by several feet of earth, and then sod. Once the sound lock doors close, you can’t hear anything going on outside. Zero interference.

“The Green Roof”

greenroof

The studio is buried in a steel reinforced cocoon, covered in concrete and dirt. But a part of the studio actually sticks up thru the soil. It’s the “Lungs” of the live space, a height extension that we designed in, to allow more “breathing room” for the piano and drums. It’s just a concrete box that is built up about 8′ above ground. (The exact height is still a topic for debate.) And it’s covered by a large flat roof. Why flat? Because we wanted to cover that in soil too! From the air, I don’t want you to see the buildings, at all. And from the ground, careful landscaping will help to hide the “stuck-thru” points… 🙂

It will begin with the installation of concrete “beds” atop the live space, to form the “roof.”  Clerestory windows running around the underside of the perimeter of the roof will provide some sunlight into the live room. Each “bed” will be sealed with waterproof construction fabric and PVC piping is installed to provide drainage. These beds will then be filled with gravel and rich top soil.  Once that happens, we can do whatever we want. I’m tempted to plant a garden up there! But… I’ll probably cave to suggestions, and we’ll plant native vegetation in the soil to begin the roof natural growth of indigenous wetland grasses.

There are significant benefits to a Green Roof on any structure. The vegetation, soil, and gravel in the roof provide a natural form of insulation that will further reduce the demand on the HVAC system. This in turn lowers energy costs for the studio and it’ll benefit us  over the entire life of the building. The beauty and aesthetic value of the “building” will be enhanced by the abundant plant life. Plus, it’ll be cool, and we can take pride in the satisfaction that we are working in an environmentally sound structure, and ultimately that should lead to even more productivity!

So, we work below ground, fed by the sun, cooled by the earth, and stimulated by a powerful hankering for french fries! Oh Crap! We’ve become Hobbits!🙂

Stay tuned!

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If you’ve just joined us…

We’ve been talking about what a good AD (Acoustical Designer) brings to your project.

I’m really surprised, but The Man Cave has become something of a “sensation.” In a little under a month, I’ve gotten over 20,000 “reads” from places all over the planet, people just like you and I who are really interested in debunking all the myths that surrounds that hallowed land… “The Recording Studio.”

I’ve heard from musicians, techs, engineers, producers, designers, and Pro Music Hardware manufacturers.

I’ve even heard from a few different Cable TV networks, that want to get in on the act, and bring film crews out. I suspect that in part, it’s due to the “concept” behind this farm-oriented studio build.  My build is pretty GREEN, as green goes. In fact, there are some who refer to it as the “Green Studio on Steroids.” But I can live with that… if I’m doing an old thing in a new way, I’m okay with it.

It’s about learning what works, without hemorrhaging money…

Here’s the deal;

We all want to record, but we all don’t have the means. Part of my adventure here at The Man Cave, is to travel down that path, and try to avoid those forks in the road that dead end into a confrontation with a “Big Bad Wolf” who wants to take all your dough!

So… this time, we’re gonna talk some more about what you need to make sure you do, to insure that the two of you not only get along, but achieve success!

  • First, think about your studio needs and goals.
  • Get an idea of the different spaces your project needs.
  • Define the activities that will take place in these spaces.
  • Nail down the dimensions that you need in these spaces.
  • Figure out what you can live with, and without.

This was one of the hardest parts for me. It’s one thing to walk into somebody else’s million dollar room, it’s another to try and duplicate it, on a “french fry” budget.

Once you have the answers to all of these questions, then…

  • Define your budget. And after you do that…
  • Determine when you have to be operational.

I already had a building (3 in fact) but if you are looking for a new building, it’s a good idea to get your designer’s opinion before you make your move.

There are many things you may not think of that are necessary for a recording studio, such as adequate ceiling height to accommodate acoustical isolation, just to name one. If I’d had this talk with my designer before I started, I probably would have given up already.

9′ ceilings aren’t exactly coveted when building a “live space” that needs to breathe. And that’s exactly what I had, plus or minus a few inches.

  • Figure out how you’re going to pay for everything.

It’s important to realize from day one that your budget will probably double, before you’re through.

Construction is not inexpensive, and you have to approach it like you were sneaking up on a sleeping bear.

Be respectful and don’t do anything rash, or you’re gonna get bit! I went in, thinking I had enough cash, but within weeks, it had doubled. By the time we get through, it will probably have tripled. And, I’ll be lucky if that’s as far as it goes.

  • You have to have a good team!

Just like hit songs, the best studios are created when everybody works together, contributing 110% of their strengths. Your relationship with your designer is just like that. The client and the designer must work “together.” Every general knows that the key to good leadership is delegating responsibility, but don’t delegate decisions unless you really trust the person you’ve given authority to.

  • Take an active role.

Recording Studios are like wombs. It’s a building designed to “give birth.” And, designing that building can be very satisfying and positive, but is also really hard work. If at any time you are uncomfortable with the design process, you owe it to yourself to communicate your concerns to the designer.

I talked to some of the most talented guys in the field. But, some of them were really, really egotistical guys.

(For me to say that is saying a lot, because I can be pretty difficult to deal with, myself.)

There were guys who almost immediately let me know that whatever they built would be a “monument to them.”

I don’t care if you’re the hottest thing to ever hit L.A. Talk to me like that, and all I’m gonna think is;

“Wrong Answer! Meet your new best friend, the dial tone!”

  • Don’t EVER let the designer control the design of the studio to the point that it is no longer yours!

If you do, you’ll regret it. The key is finding that right “vibe,” that guy who knows just what notes to hit, to make sure that he’s in perfect harmony with you. Just like you, at his “thing,” he’s the artist. And, he’s a real creative guy, or you wouldn’t have hired him. So don’t restrict him so much that you are not getting the advantage of his full creative potential.

  • I know… I’m a Jew… but get it in writing!!

Get to know the designer you’re hiring, and then… it’s important to have a written agreement. This agreement, or contract, should include the following things;

  • The scope of work,
  • The services to be rendered,
  • The design and build schedules,
  • The construction budget,
  • THE ESCROW PROCESS,  and most importantly…
  • The Designer’s compensation.

Let’s face it, having a contract is important, not just for the designer’s protection, but also for yours. In fact, in almost every state in the union, it is illegal for an architect or general contractor to work on a project without a contract.

If he says your handshake is good enough, call a cop. He’s a crook trying to steal your money.

So there you have it. Everything I know about this, so far…

As you can see, Lexx’s “bucket  ‘o’ knowledge” is pretty damned near empty, when it comes to stuff like this.

Stay tuned, as we try and figure out how to fill it with something besides the B.S. that some of those sales reps have been feeding us!

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