The performances by Irma Thomas, John Boutte, and Kermit Ruffins were recently tracked live at the New Orleans Center For Creative Arts (NOCCA) by professional recording engineer and faculty member, Steve Himelfarb using the PreSonus StudioLive 32S digital mixer and Studio One DAW software.
Let’s get to know him a bit better and hear what he has to say about integrating Studio One and StudioLive for use in live recordings!
Steve began working in recording studios around Los Angeles when he was about 18, doing the midnight til 9:00 a.m. cleanup shift at Cherokee Studios. As a result, he had priceless experiences including meeting Mötley Crüe (still one of the loudest he has ever heard to this day) when Roy Thomas Baker was mixing their debut record. Another fond memory was that of Ray Manzarek producing X’s Wild Gift during the heyday of the 80s music scene.
“Cherokee was super rock & roll, yet they were very strict with what they wanted from their cleanup people. I was taught how to conduct myself as a young would-be recording engineer,” Steve fondly recalls.
At 19, Steve began working for Capitol Records in the famed Capitol Studios building putting in a solid five years of work. Some of his album credits include Sheila E’s first album, Crowded House’s Crowded House, Bob Seager’s Like a Rock, Dwight Yoakum’s GTRs Cadillacs and Tori Amos’ Y Kant Tori Read. (Fun Fact: Tori and Steve have been friends since high school.)
Steve moved to New Orleans at the age of 25, and the first record he engineered in town was Buckwheat Zydeco’s On A Night Like This, which was produced by Chris Blackwell and nominated for a Grammy. He subsequently bought the studio that he worked at in the late 80s and rebuilt it with a Neve console and Studer tape machine. In 1993, Steve sold that studio and took a couple years off, sort of. To date, he has worked on 15 gold and platinum records and has five Grammy-nominated record credits to his name.
Teaching himself to bake, Steve decided to open a small restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans called Cake Café, and became affectionately known as “The Cake Man” in the Marigny district. After 13 years of business (fast-forwarding past Hurricane Katrina to about four months ago), he sold the restaurant and wrote a cookbook.
Incidentally, around three years ago (after encouragement from Tori Amos) he started getting back into recording again and dove headfirst into the world of digital recording using Studio One.
Here are some thoughts by Steve, in his own words:
I really like the workflow of Studio One. It feels like I am working on a console and not a computer. The drag-and-drop integration is such a great feature. The plug-ins are very musical. Lately, my go-to has been the VT-1 on the stereo bus.
Using the StudioLive 32S in a live recording situation is wonderful. In all honesty, this type of setup used to be such an involved task with a mobile recording truck and countless hours of set up. The StudioLive 32S, along with the NSB digital stage box, is such a game-changer. Total set-up time takes about an hour. The sound is clean. I like the Fat Channel limiters. They are kinda my safety net against clipping in dynamic situations. I have used the StudioLive 32S on about eight projects over the past year, and it is truly a sturdy piece of equipment for such demanding situations. In live recording situations, you just need to count on your equipment and the StudioLive has always performed excellently.
I really like how the company has developed the workflow of the recording studio in the current digital age. I could see how, about six years ago, PreSonus was ahead of the pack in their development of studio ecosystems. Now everyone is building small-format consoles and integrated systems.
Developing young artists has always been a large part of the work I have done. Teaching at New Orleans Creative Center For The Arts (NOCCA) is a natural extension of the work I love.
My new CD, Mixture, was recorded with Studio One 2.5, has spent five weeks on the CMJ top 40 charts, peaking at number 9 alongside other jazz greats like Lee Rittenour, Chick Corea, Marcus Miller and Diana Krall. We’re getting many great reviews!
One of the powerful tools we used in producing this record is the PreSonus Studio One. My co-writer and co-producer Tom Rule used Studio One for his demo keyboard tracks at his home studio. When we brought the tracks in to my pro studio, Shadow Sound Studio, to finish adding real instruments and mix and master, I fell in love with many of the sounds included with of Studio One. In particular, we loved the stand-up bass sound that shipped with Studio One so much, that we actually left it on the record and never had a live bass player come and replace the MIDI. I have now made Studio One part of my studio tools and of course use PreSonus for my jazz band’s live performances.