Sound Advice

knobsFor my informational interview I chatted with Don Ross over the phone. Don owns and runs a recording studio here in Eugene. I decided upon doing this interview because I am interested in sound engineering and recording myself and someday hope to open my own studio. Everything Mr. Ross shared with me was very helpful and gave good insight into the realm of recording which I could look back on going forward with my own efforts. So here are the basic questions and responses from the interview, not exactly word for word. I asked him “What made you want to open your own recording studio initially?” and he responded with saying that he started out as a musician in his early twenties and had been helping out some friends with recording records and an engineer he knew suggested he try engineering. So he did that part time for awhile and later got a full time job, but that studio ran into hard times and he realized that if he wanted to continue his work in Eugene he was going to have to open his own studio. The next question I asked was “How did you manage to open your own studio?” Don replied with pointing out that he had secured clients from his previous work so that when he put money into building the studio he already had work and income right away. He didn’t just build it and hope he would find work, he was thinking ahead. Following that question, I asked “Do you mainly work with musicians or do you do more commercial stuff?” To which he replied that it’s mainly fifty-fifty between the two and, since it is a smaller market, he can focus on doing both. To which I then replied asking if he had a lot of competition due to the other studios in the area. Which then led to him saying that there are only a few other “professional studios” who have the more high end set up and equipment like Gung-Ho, Track Town and Sprout City and that the competition is mainly between the many smaller studios in the area. Which makes sense because they can charge less for studio time. I followed that by asking if he had gotten an education specifically in sound engineering or if he learned everything through just hands on experience and self teaching. He pointed out that forty years ago, when he started out, the kinds of  of programs that are around now weren’t around then and neither was the internet so, basically he was lucky to find a job where someone could mentor him and he could have that hands on experience. The next question was “What is the hardest part and what is your favorite part about your job?” Don said that he was not very fond of the business side of things like all the paperwork involved with owning a business. His favorite part of course is recording and working with clients. Don said “I enjoy the challenge and like helping musicians achieve their vision.” To me that was very inspirational. Don mentioned he has worked with lots of big names in the TV world like ABC Network, Disney and Netflix. He also mentioned he has helped on projects that have been Grammy nominated and even recorded records that have gone gold and platinum. I asked Don who are some of his favorite people to work with to which he said “Well that’s like saying, who’s your favorite son or daughter?” But he did say he enjoyed working with Sam Elliot, Mason Williams, local talent like Bill Barrett and many local musicians. I asked Mr. Ross if he had any employees and he said the only person that helps run the studio besides himself is his very supportive wife who happens to be quite tech savvy. I then moved on to asking what was his favorite equipment to use and he said he loves using all the retro recreations of classic equipment from the fifties and sixties. Finally, I ended the interview with asking what advice he had for someone who was an aspiring sound engineer hoping to open their own studio. Mr. Ross very wisely said “The biggest piece of advice is to learn as much as you can and work with people who know more than you do.” I plan to take that advice to heart. I really enjoyed doing this interview and it was great to get to talk with such an influential person with that many years of experience under their belt. Thanks for reading!


3 thoughts on “Sound Advice

  1. Kacey Baker

    I really enjoyed reading your interview, and just like you did, I will also follow by this advice to learn from others teachings, as growing is and always will be important to us all, in the hope of advancement. Nice read!


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