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“Music is a single language of the world”: interview with the owner of SmartAudio studio Mikhail Mamonov

SmartAudio Recording Lab is a modern, professional recording studio based in Kirov and consciously focused on working with an analogue. About this and not only in an interview with the founder and ideologist of the project Mikhail Mamonov.

“SmartAudio Recording Lab is a modern media center with perfect silence. “We built a recording studio in a picturesque suburban village, away from the hustle and bustle, where there are no airports, industrial enterprises and highways,” begins the conversation, Mikhail Mamonov. “But not only that, because without the Imlight project the studio would not have happened.” For about 30 years, almost since the founding of the company, Mikhail Mamonov has been managing one of the Imlight divisions.

Stage preparation for the concert of the group “Bi 2”

Mikhail Mamonov in the studio
– Michael, first of all tell our readers about yourself. Why did you decide to become a sound engineer?
– To tell you the truth, I’m not a sound engineer, but rather a stage person, in almost all aspects. A profession from the past is a teacher. I graduated from the Kirov State Pedagogical Institute. Yes, the sound engineer’s practice was, but completely different – the sound engineer at live concerts. And the main thing for me is working with sound and light on stage venues. Since the 90s of the last century, I have worked with almost all the performers and bands who have toured in our city. How did it all start? It just never ended. (smiles) It’s probably more interesting what’s happening now – the preparation of the Bi-2 concert at VTB Arena and the upcoming interview to develop cooperation with John Meyer from Meyer Sound, whose products we present and use. And the sound in the studio and the real sound engineer is my son Artem. (smiles)
– Three years ago you completed the construction of a new studio for SmartAudio. Obviously, it was not an easy process? What tasks did you set and did everything work out as a result? – Studios have been for many, many years. What we built three years ago is not a beginning, but rather a natural development. It all started almost in the home format. Today, the myth that you can achieve the same result at home as in a professional studio has become a popular thing, and even the pros are more concerned with new equipment and software than the acoustic mode. Therefore, yes, having embodied high requirements for acoustic design in SmartAudio necessary for the work of professionals, to some extent we went against the system. Moreover, we are currently positioning SmartAudio as a modern media center, on the basis of which workshops can be held including well-known Russian and foreign sound engineers. What happened? Listen to John Davis. If seriously, in order to get the desired result, we built a recording studio in a picturesque suburban village, that is, in a place where there are simply no sources of all these noise. And of course, the whole building was originally erected for specific tasks, and rooms with all their proportions were designed based on special acoustic requirements. As an example: the control room and the main tone studio are built as two independent buildings – that is, they do not have common walls. And the ventilation systems of these rooms are autonomous from each other, which avoids the penetration of sound through the ducts.

In the studio control room
– By the way, Mikhail, among the instrumental groups, this type of release is especially popular as a live session in the studio (often such a concert is simultaneously recorded in audio and video format).
– At SmartAudio, we paid special attention to the planned production light, which opens up more opportunities for videographers to create spectacular and colorful materials. It is also interesting that theatrical light (even if photography is not being conducted in parallel) has a definite effect on the musicians themselves – their play and mood. We already have experience when we selected an atmospheric lighting scene to record one of the tracks.

Tone studio
– Tell us about your team, how did it develop? And why SmartAudio?
– Actually, our entire project is a motivated family hobby, more likely even a way of life. And with the brand and logo there was a funny story: son Artem somehow drew a sketch of the logo, it turned out something similar to “Smart”. Then, when registering the site, they discovered an unoccupied name – that’s how it happened. Artyom started recording sound on his home computer, and five years ago he went to Nashville, to the States and studied with Vance Powell (The BlackBird Studios / The Sputnik Sound) . He returned completely analog (smiles). And he brought suitcases with analog iron, a tube microphone park – the basis of our sound.
– At the beginning of this century there were only two groups of “tape business” enthusiasts all over the world: The Tape Project and Fone Records, the latter never stopped writing on tapes in analogue. Over the past two years, the number of “tape” record labels has exceeded half a hundred … Do you believe in the renaissance of the tape as the main medium? – Rather, yes, because in all the top studios in the world they still work on “iron” equipment, where the center Of the universe…

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