null Immersive Talk with Wayne's Room Studios

Immersive Talk with Wayne's Room Studios

We recently caught up with up-and-coming immersive engineer Wayne Romero at his very own Wayne's Room Studios, a small overdub studio in Warrenton, Virginia, that's found popularity amongst hip-hop and voice-over artists. There, Wayne took us through his journey into immersive engineering and how it's working out for him today.

Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and your studio?

Right now, I'm pursuing a degree in Music Production & Recording Technology at Shenandoah University, where I'm expecting to graduate during May in 2024. Going back a little, to the summer of 2020, my family relocated from the DC area to Warrenton, Virginia. Our new house came with a massive garage, and in 2021, we decided to transform part of it into a recording studio! My father and I divided the garage in half, creating a control room and tracking room. The control room spans 11 ft x 12 ft x 8 ft, while the recording room measures 9 ft x 11 ft x 8 ft.

Wayne's Room

Can you run us through some of your key equipment?

I prioritized the use of our budget for acquiring microphones and monitoring. We have a diverse mic locker for capturing a wide range of instruments. We also have a few preamps and a pair of Wes Audio Mimas compressors, and we use Pro Tools for recording and mixing.

What type of work do you do here?

Most of our work is in hip-hop vocal recording and mixing, and when it comes to immersive, I specialize in Dolby Atmos. The studio's core purpose is to provide me with valuable experience while I'm still a student, therefore, we keep our rates exceptionally affordable. This extra value has brought us many clients who are new to the whole recording studio experience. It's incredibly rewarding to witness the musical growth of the young artists I collaborate with and to contribute to their creative journey!

Wayne's Room Studios Desk shot

How and when did you become interested in immersive audio?

My journey into Dolby Atmos began at Shenandoah University. The University's room has an amazing 9.1.4 system layout with a multi-computer, Dante fed configuration. As part of my work study, I've been privileged to spend a lot of time in that space – troubleshooting the technical complexities inherent in a Dolby Atmos system, particularly in its early stages. This experience has served as an excellent foundation for my exploration of the format. After being exposed to Atmos mixes and noting the industry's shift towards immersive audio, I made the decision to equip Wayne’s Room for Atmos.

How did your upgrade to immersive go?

My father and I undertook the upgrade ourselves! I devised the system layout, selected the necessary gear and worked out the Dolby Atmos Room Design Tool (DARDT) to ensure we were adhering to Dolby’s best practices. Budget constraints and space limitations posed the main challenges. Our studio wasn't originally designed for an Atmos system, which prompted us to retrofit the space. This involved cutting into the back wall and ceiling to meet Dolby's specified speaker layout requirements. We were unsure if the ceiling joists were available for speaker mounting, but after thorough exploration of HVAC, electrical and plumbing pathways, we determined we could position the height speakers according to our DARDT. I have to shout out and thank my father for his unwavering support, allowing me to utilize the space and assisting in the installation process!

What does immersive offer you and how do you approach it?

Mixing in Atmos opens up a realm of creative possibilities, while also presenting artistic considerations for engineers. I feel fortunate to have worked on new projects that haven't been released, as opposed to re-mixing older catalog tracks in Atmos, allowing me more flexibility. For the majority of projects I work on in Atmos, I handle the tracking of the record and do both the stereo and Atmos mixing as well. This enables me to anticipate the Atmos mix early in the process. In some cases, when a client wants an Atmos mix for a track currently being recorded, I work with the artist to capture additional takes, giving me more to work with during the Atmos mix.

Can you tell us about your Genelec system?

We went with a 7.1.4 layout, featuring 8331 monitors for LR, an 8330 for the center, 8320s for side and height channels, 8330s for rear surrounds, and a 7350 subwoofer. This selection was driven by the monitors' ability to deliver close to 85 dB, with 20 dB of headroom at the given distances. Opting for Genelec was a natural choice, partly because we'd already been using the 8331s and 7350.

Waynes Room space

What role has Genelec Loudspeaker Manager (GLM) been playing for you?

We've been utilizing GLM, and it's proven indispensable! Given our spatial constraints, the built-in calibration of the Smart Active Monitors greatly simplified the process of calibrating our system. There is a noticeable change when you toggle the calibration on and off in GLM, and the change makes everything tighter.

What kind of immersive projects have you worked on recently?

The first Dolby Atmos record made at Wayne's Room, 'Mom Don't Cry' by JCE, recently came out on all platforms! There are several more projects coming down the pipe that I’m super pumped for as well. While I continue to navigate the business aspects of our Atmos offerings, it's a departure from our beginner-focused model. Although we offer introductory prices, Atmos might not be essential for newer indie artists at this time. Certain clients, however, can benefit from an Atmos mix, and these projects bridge the gap until a steady influx of Atmos-focused clients emerge. Time will determine the viability of this as a commercial venture, but the experience I am gaining is priceless!

What do you think about the future of immersive audio?

I anticipate that Atmos and other object-based immersive formats will soon sound truly amazing on headphones. While Atmos mixes on headphones might currently be perceived as novelties, their advancements are rapidly evolving. I believe that more comprehensive HRTFs will be able to be generated through consumer devices. This advancement will make binaural decoding of Atmos mixes sound absolutely stunning!

To find out more about the Waynes Room Studios, click here.

Do you want to be featured in our ‘Immersive Talk’ series? If so, just post some pictures of your setup on Instagram using the #GenelecImmersive hashtag. We’ll be keeping a look out for the most interesting setups, so who knows? We may be in touch with you!

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