A Recording Session at Studio 2002

by Joseph Dinwiddie

The task awaiting Jim Snyder at Rob Magallon's Studio 2002 was a two-fer – to record an original song, "The Songs I Like To Hear," and to shoot video tape for his public access show, "Writer's Night." He brought along a couple of semi-unwitting accomplices for the job.

We arrived at the inconspicuous, single story house in a quiet New Albany subdivision, parked and went around back, where the only hint that this house was also a recording studio was a backdoor sign: "Please Knock Before Entering."

Magallon greeted us and immediately mentioned that we had approximately an hour and a half "window" before the tree crew working in his front yard returned to-their task and removing a large tree from his yard. While he thought it wouldn't be a problem, there was no point in dawdling. Snyder unpacked his camera and presently was filming me interviewing Magallon on his back porch for the TV show.

Magallon, a musician for thirty years, went from being a booking agent to running his own in-home studio business some ten years ago. His claim that the sound quality is not compromised by the location was validated later, when we left the studio and were greeted outside by the sound of the tree crew's chainsaws. (We did, however, feel the "thud" when the heavy trunk hit the ground.)

Downstairs, Snyder set about putting new strings on his guitar and getting tuned up. Magallon gave us the nickel tour, which was not lengthy, even if we went around the movable room dividers twice.

Like any successful studio, Magallon records a wide variety of jobs in a equally wide variety of styles: rap, R&B, folk, blues gospel, rock & roll and country . He does demos for bands wanting to gig, records albums, cuts singles on DAT and has just bought a new CD "burner," AKA a CD recorder, which has helped some of his clients get songs on the radio. He has a reliable 16-track analog reel to reel in addition to a hard disc recorder, plus an array of new technology. Even with the new tools, however, his rates remain at a maximum of $35 dollars an hour. Longer jobs have lesser per-hour rates.

He has a policy on lyrics: if he finds it offensive, he won't record it. That rule extends even to the bathroom, where names, drawings, dates and messages from visitors cover almost every square inch of the walls and ceiling. Magallon pointed out one place where he had to do a bit of editing with a Sharpie. In spite of that, the messages were mostly positive.

Back at the board, Magallon got all the assorted patches, plugs, wires and channels operating and, after a few run-throughs and false starts, Snyder got a good take of his song onto the first two tracks of the 4-track hard disc recorder. He then added a second guitar track to fill out the bottom. One of the handy features of the 4-track hard disc recorder is that "punch-in" corrections are quick and seamless: Snyder fixed a single sour note in the second guitar track with ease.

Magallon's custom is to suggest to his clients that the final mix down happen on a different day from recording, in order to let the ears recover. However, since Jim was just recording one acoustic song, they decided to go ahead and make the final mix. From the hard disc recording, Rob mixed Snyder's song onto a DAT tape and then copied it to a regular cassette.

Excluding the time spent interviewing Magallon for video and the time spent in general socializing, Snyder spent two hours or less in the studio to get his single tune recorded on DAT. The outside videotaping took another twenty minutes or so, so Snyder got his two-fer done in an afternoon and I got an article.

Not a bad day's work.

Snyder will show an edited version of the session on an upcoming edition of "Writer's Night," which is shown on TKR Channel 14 or 18, depending on where you live in Jefferson County,. at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays.