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22 Aug 2017

The Piano Store use Pre Sonus gear to build amazing recording studio

producer/news The Piano Store teams up with Pre Sonus for amazing recoding studio

Gazing through the windows, The Piano Store looks like other high-quality piano stores. Look closer: This is a piano store of the future, equipped with a professional recording studio. Explore, and you’ll find a live room, a vocal booth, and a sweet control room built around a PreSonus® StudioLive® 32 Series III digital console/recorder and Studio One® Professional DAW.

“It’s my dream to be a film composer, and I’ve wanted a studio for a long time,” begins Ben Nieves, founder and owner of The Piano Store. “My friend Eric Chun, with his company Creative Music Services, has been deeply involved in music education and in the music community in the Sacramento Valley. Talking with him, I realized there’s a need for a network to help young musicians learn and promote their music. When I was creating The Piano Store, it came to me that if I had a recording studio in the store, it could serve multiple purposes.”

One purpose is to give The Piano Store an edge in a challenging market. “You don’t see piano stores with a nice recording studio, and the gear I’ve put in this store is top notch,” Nieves avers. “Some is so high end that people initially think PreSonus gear doesn’t belong. But within ten minutes, there’s no more argument because PreSonus has upped its game, and their gear definitely belongs here.”

At other piano stores, it’s hard to compare how you sound on different pianos. Not at The Piano Store. “We record customers playing so they can hear how they sound on different pianos,” Nieves explains. “We have tie lines to the studio, so we grab a couple of 50-foot cables, set up mics and mic stands, plug in, choose our session template in Studio One, and record any piano in the store without moving it. We can set up a live session in eight minutes, and if you want to try a different piano, we just move the mics and cables. Afterward, you can hear recordings of you playing each instrument.”

That’s just one studio function. “Local musicians come in the store who write and want to give their music to family members,” recounts Nieves. “If they buy something, we sometimes give them two free hours of studio time. We provide quality video and audio for kids so they can create a portfolio for scholarships and make audition tapes. We lower the price for them—and parents love that. It’s about community and a healthy place for musicians to go.”

Studio visitors are surrounded by PreSonus gear. Nieves and studio engineer Chris Horton monitor with PreSonus Sceptre S8 coaxial speakers. The studio boasts a PreSonus FaderPort control surface and a PreSonus ADL 700 preamp. “We also have a whole lot of PreSonus HD7 headphones,” adds Nieves, “and back in my office I have a pair of PreSonus Eris E66 MTM studio monitors. The E66s are sweet, I love those monitors. They have their own characteristics, so I can start scoring a piece with them and move into the main studio to monitor with the Sceptres, which have a different sound.”

Nieves’ path to PreSonus began with Chun, a long-time PreSonus endorser and music-community activist whose studio in Auburn, California, is a dozen miles from The Piano Store. “Ben combined acoustic piano retail with a PreSonus high-end studio, and it fits into the strong community network I wanted to design,” praises Chun. “Ben has been a big supporter of music industry educational, business, and promotional events in the Sacramento Valley region. The Piano Store has sponsored singer/songwriter workshops, workshops for piano, concerts, and more. Ben is a forward-thinking person, the sort of entrepreneur that we need to promote music growth in this region.”

Chun even helps with some store customers’ recording projects. “You can record piano at the store, then come to my studio to do additional tracks, like recording acoustic drums,” he confirms. “We’re using PreSonus gear in both places.”

When designing and building the studio, Nieves got a major assist from engineer Chris Horton. “I had my vision,” recounts Nieves, “and Eric helped with networking and guidance. But Chris did the biggest part of the design. He did a great job, with attention to detail.” Originally Nieves hadn’t considered Horton as the staff engineer. That changed, Nieves says, “because he knows this place inside out.” (Assistant engineer Lyra McCarmey also helps on an assortment of projects at the studio.)

There was one rub. “We use Studio One, and Chris was using another well-known DAW,” Nieves recounts. “But within three days of trying Studio One, he loved it. He watches PreSonus’ videos and educates himself.” “The biggest advantage for me was mixing in Studio One,” responds Horton. “In the other DAW, if you are trying to add an effect or create a different sound, you have to think about a long series of steps. In Studio One, I decide what effect I want, I drag it to the track, I do some adjustments, and I’m done and moving on. Studio One doesn’t pull me out of creativity and into logistics; it keeps me in creativity all the time. That’s huge.”

When a customer buys a new piano and wants to record, Nieves sometimes gives them a free PreSonus AudioBox iTwo Studio bundle. The bundle combines PreSonus’ AudioBox iTwo audio/MIDI interface for Mac, Windows, and iOS; an M7 condenser mic; HD7 headphones—the type used at The Piano Store—and Studio One Artist. Thus equipped, customers can quickly start recording their masterpiece. “A lot of the youth who play piano are YouTubers now, and they want to record themselves,” Nieves points out. “In the context of the cost of a piano, giving away an AudioBox iTwo Studio is a smart investment that makes the close easier.”

Overall, The Piano Store’s PreSonus-equipped studio has been a major success. “The studio has helped my sales on high-end pianos,” asserts Nieves. “Everything is about combining now, having multiple options in one place, like fitness centers that include a tanning salon, restaurant, and ballet classes. In the Internet era, the way to stay in business is to provide customer service and product knowledge and keep improving. The biggest thing I love about PreSonus is their constant, never-ending improvement. Even if a cool feature only applies to 10 percent of their users, they update their products to do it. I find that awesome.”

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