AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - April 20, 2022

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For the PNW Section April 2022 meeting, composer/musician/engineer/producer Steve Kirk discussed the unique challenges of building his new recording studio in a residential environment. About 35 persons attended the Zoom meeting, about 19 being AES members.

Section Chair Greg Dixon opened the meeting, announcing upcoming PNW meetings and elections.

Steve Kirk composes for multi-media, and runs Steve Kirk Studios based in Port Orchard, Washington. Projects include Ron Gilbert's Thimbleweed Park and, more recently, Bartlow's Dread Machine. Steve also uses his studio to produce and arrange music for other artists. Other projects include music for the iOS releases Skurvy Skallywags for Beep Games and Cookie Jam for SGN. Steve also composed Cantina music for the Star Wars MMOL game The Old Republic. Further projects include music for the Disney game version of The Princess and The Frog, and the FarmVille Theme for Zynga. Before that, Steve worked on the wonderfully creative Voodoo Vince (Beep Games) composing over three hours of music for the game.

Steve was joined by his studio designer Patrick Donicht, now based in Ecuador. In 2015 Steve had moved to Seattle and after a few years decided it made sense to move to a more rural area. It would still be a tight budget to build a new studio, and pandemic influenced construction costs were spiraling. Patrick had previously designed studios for Steve in Oakland and Seattle.

Steve ended up in unincorporated Port Orchard, WA, where he found a house with a 16ft x 12ft utility shed plus an RV parking structure. He figured he could move the shed to the RV area and remodel it into his studio. Patrick laid out a design suitable for the size featuring VPRs (variable plate resonators), bass control devices made of steel plates with dense foam blocks glued to them, hung in wood frames.

Slides showed the construction process, from pouring a new slab, removing the old RV canopy, moving the shed, electrical, adding a ventilation system, audio wiring, building the VPRs and interior, and room EQ with all acoustical devices including the VPRs and tube traps.

Steve also talked about his composition process. The studio is not only for mixing/mastering, but recording live instruments (he hasn't tried recording large drum kits). Several music examples of his work on games were played.

A lively Q&A session included talk about the studio construction, composing music for games and musical influences such as Frank Zappa.

Finally, attendees were free to unmute for self introductions and chat.

Media from the meeting will be archived at the PNW Section website, under "archive." (video note: Be advised, Zoom recorded audio is in mono. During the meeting audio was in Zoom stereo.)

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More About Pacific Northwest Section

AES - Audio Engineering Society