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New Studio – Part One: The Move

It feels great to finally write this post.  A year ago, I didn’t see this coming.  Six months ago, I was still in shock that it was happening.  Three months ago, I was just starting to pack boxes.  A month ago, I was hunkered down in a makeshift “blanket fort” recording booth, wondering if my career would survive.

Since 2012, I’ve been working from a home studio.  I started simple, using acoustic foam and heavy curtains to construct my first “recording booth”.  My microphones and equipment were entry-level, but everything worked well for personal-use audio.  After a year, I realized that I was on the right career path.  I improved my website, invested in better equipment, and a custom built sound suppression booth was constructed in early 2013.  Business began to pick up.

A few months after those upgrades, my wife gave birth to our first child.  Having a recording booth in my home studio was perfect.  I’ll state emphatically, being a stay-home dad while growing a business was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  However, after our second child was born in 2015, my business began to evolve again.  I was regularly recording pieces for The Tonight Show, as well as matching voices for film trailers.

It was then that concerns began popping up.

The first big issue was that we lived under a commercial flight path.  Jets would approach/embark the Dane Co Regional Airport throughout the day.  While each one could only be heard for thirty seconds, it would force me to pause recording (sometimes in the middle of a patched session with a client).  The sound suppression booth could keep almost any noise from leaking in – except the rumble of a low-flying plane.  Add to that, the increase in fighter jets taking off and landing at nearby Truax Field, and the disruptions went from a couple of times per day to almost hourly.

The second issue is that children love to play (and they make noise when they do).  Having a recording studio located directly underneath a three year old’s bedroom was ill-advised, but there weren’t any suitable back-up options within our house.  I had two choices:  Either I work only when the kids are sleeping, or we relocate the studio outside of the house.  At first, I started pushing more and more recording sessions to 7pm and later, using the quiet hours to work.  But soon, I started running out of available time.  Renting studio space wasn’t an option, as it was cost prohibitive (especially when you’re paying to record auditions).  Building an external addition to the house would also be cost prohibitive – and wouldn’t address the air traffic noise.

So, the decision was made to find a new home.  One with the space to construct a studio from the floor up.  Ideally, that space would be far away from the sounds of the living areas.

Our real estate broker assured us that our house would sell quickly.  Residential inventory was sparse, and our home was in a price range with ample buyers.  The trick would be finding our new home.  Just to meet the studio needs (within our price range), we had to look thirty to sixty miles away from the city.  Fortunately, that would be close enough to see old friends regularly, but far from the flight paths of the Madison airport.

In April, we found the perfect place.  The garage was large enough to support a full studio build from the floor up.

Our offer on our new home was accepted, and our old home sold in two days.

I called on my friend Andy Kidd (who built my previous recording booth), and we started putting together the materials list.  He would be working his full-time construction job, then working several hours each night on the studio build.  I would be asking a LOT of Andy and his family over the course of the build, but we were confident that the studio would be done in a few weeks.

We took ownership of our new house on May 31st, opting to rent back our previous home (and old studio) until June 16th.  The new studio would need to be completed by June 19th if I were to avoid any down time.

But, as June 16th came and went, it became apparent that this new studio build would take a bit longer than we initially anticipated.

A lot longer.

More on that, and the conclusion of this story, in an upcoming blog post.