Just like millions of people, the global pandemic opened my eyes and really put things into perspective for all areas of my life, especially when it came to my true life’s passions. In my previous role, I was a lead audio post mixer at one of the biggest, most successful entities in the entertainment business. I was front and center for virtually every major creative project, for every major event, 52 weeks a year, no offseason, no repeats.
While that work was thrilling, once restrictions began lifting and things began to open back up, I was ready for a change. I chose to shift my mindset and began dreaming of opening my own audio post production facility as remote work was now more viable than ever. Was I scared? Yes. Was it a risk? Yes. Was I confident in my abilities? Yes. I struggled with all these thoughts, but I took the plunge, and Brown Lab Sound Studios was born.
How do you build your own studio? When it comes to equipment, many people will go with what they know, myself included. However, I was just about ready to pull the trigger when a friend and colleague made the point that the days of the standalone audio person are limited, if not already over. I needed to diversify my post production business by offering picture and sound.
When I saw Fairlight integrated into DaVinci Resolve Studio, I was impressed. What sealed the deal for me was the fact that this system is not just a DAW, but it’s an entire post production platform. I began to realize how powerful Fusion VFX is and how this system could expand my business’ horizons with video editing, graphic design, etc. Now I have a three-bay Fairlight console complete with a Fairlight Audio Editor loaded with just about every SFX library on the market, all running on Windows 10. This system has a DeckLink Studio 4K I/O card for capturing, archival duplication (clients bring VHS tapes), etc. The console display monitors are Dell UltraSharp U2211H, which make viewing the console in clear detail easy on the eyes. The main video playback monitor is a Dell U2421HE 24-inch LED monitor with multiple HDMI, USB and DisplayPort inputs, affording me plenty of options.
The mix room has been acoustically treated by GIK Acoustics, which designed a reflection-free zone for world-class acoustical treatment. Sound is powered by Neumann KH 120 active monitors, complete with a KH 810 active subwoofer with hi-fi bass management, Yamaha NS10MMs and Auratone Super Sound Cubes.
Sound design is controlled via a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2. The four-directional encoder provides instant audition, a unique feature that allows instant playback of each sound as you scroll through, rather than having to load each sound, which cuts down on the time needed for SFX searches significantly.
Tools like SoundWeaver, an application that automatically picks, slices, aligns and layers sounds, also sets us apart by offering virtually limitless sound design scenarios. Our sound design engines include UVI Falcon, Drone, Meteor, Xtreme FX, Whoosh FX, Walker foley libraries, and Sample Logic’s Trailer Xpressions 3. Our SFX libraries include pretty much all of the major professional libraries (Ultimate SFX Collection, Legacy Collection, ProSFX, Boom Library), and we also offer forensic audio services (noise reduction for court cases) and general noise reduction services supported by Izotope RX 10 Advanced Post Production Suite, Lexicon PCM Native Effects & Reverbs, as well as plug-ins such as Waves Diamond Bundle, SSL 4000 Collection, CLA Effects and more.
I am using a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 as an audio interface for doing ADR work, connecting with clients via Skype so I can assign an uncompressed, full-fidelity audio path for client playback. I also run Source Connect through Skype for voiceover recording. Once the session is over, the native DaVinci Resolve Studio clips easily import into my timeline. From the DaVinci Resolve deliver page, I can create client-specific assets for easy exportation.
My system is a beast, and most importantly, my workflow does not slow down the creative process. It’s a significant assemblage of technology that feels professional and has already supported my desire to branch out beyond audio post production. I am actively learning exciting technologies such as Unreal Engine for video gaming audio, video podcasts and graphical sound design, as well as mixing in 5.1 and stereo for TV and streaming services.
In closing, trust yourself, and don’t be afraid to put your ideas out to the universe. I have learned that you will be blown away by the good energy that will be created by staying true to yourself, your dreams and your ideals. Life is but a dream, the question is, whose dream are you living?
Tim Roche is the founder of Brown Lab Sound Studios (https://brownlabstudios.com) in Bethel, CT,, which offers a range of audio post services, including sound design, dialogue editing, mixing, ADR and Foley.