In the face of tight travel restrictions and the industry-wide slowdown due to the pandemic, music producer Garth Richardson has spent several months renovating and updating The Farm Studios, located on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, an effort focused on extending the complex’s existing Audinate Dante network to another large cabin adjacent to the main house and other locations.
The Farm Studios, formerly the home of the iconic Little Mountain Sound, offers a cabin-in-the-woods workshop atmosphere for high end recording and studio production. The seven-acre property includees several cabins and the main house where the control room is located, with a 20 by 28-foot drum room just upstairs.
Richardson’s goal for the renovation is to expand the studio’s footprint and create a varied set of indoor and outdoor recording spaces. Rooms in the main house are connected throughout with a Dante network, and Richardson is now extending the network out to another large cabin adjacent to the main house and other locations.
“I want to make it so that anyone can record from anywhere,” Richardson says. “If a vocalist wants to sing alone from the band house, I can just plug a mic preamp into that network jack, and we’re good to go. If they want to sing outdoors in the woods, we can do that too. The network makes it very easy to set up whatever we might need. It’s a very cool concept, musicians can be together in a space, in separate rooms, or separate cabins — all with great views and fresh air everywhere — it’s very relaxing and greatly contributes to the artistic process.”
The Farm Studio’s main control room hass a Solid State Logic AWS 900+ mixing console, the latest ProTools workstation, and a mix of preamps and components from Focusrite, all connected over a Dante network. The Focusrite Pro RedNet units within the workflow include two HD32R 32 x 32 Dante to Digi Link (Pro Tools) converters, three A16R 16 x 16 Dante to Analogue Line Level converters, multiple MP8R eight-channel Dante mic preamps, X2P two-channel Dante desktop mic preamps with independent headphone and monitor outputs, and two AM2 Dante stereo output devices.
“I’m working to make this a very cool and comfortable place to hang out and create, not the regular recording studio,” he notes. “With all the tech available, we’re beginning to forget that we’re dealing with human beings who have feelings and need inspiration. We’ve even recorded drums outside, which has been phenomenal. The drummer raved that it was the best thing he had ever done. The Dante network allows us to pretty much try anything we can think of.”
Dante Controller’s user interface and network management features enable complex networks to be set up and configured quickly, allowing for easier changes to workflows, even with social distancing guidelines in place. “For probably the next couple of years, we’re all going to deal with social distancing concerns, so people can come up here and get away from the world, isolate, and make some music,” Richardson concludes. “While long-distance remote collaboration is possible, there’s much to be said for human interaction. Bands and performers can come here with their social bubble, get away from the city, and be safe. We just need to keep an eye out for bears.”
Richardson has worked with artists that include Taylor Swift, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Alice Cooper, and 2013 Best British Band winners Biffy Clyro. He also produced and engineered Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled debut album, which earned him a Grammy nomination for his engineering work. And, he co-founded the Nimbus School of Recording Arts and is also the owner of Vancouver Rockspace as well as The Farm Studios.