Indianapolis, IN (April 23, 2020)—Azmyth Recording Studios, a multiroom facility in Indianapolis that incorporates the Azmyth School of Music Technology, recently entered its 21st year of operation. That’s cause for celebration in any city, but perhaps even more so in Azmyth’s case because, as owner and chief engineer Ryan Adkins wryly observes, “Indianapolis is not really a destination recording town.”
Many local area studios have come and gone since he got into the business, Adkins says. “It’s been quite a ride. I can probably count on one hand the number of studios that have been around since I started. I’m glad I’m still here.”
Adkins came about his success the old-fashioned way: he earned it. “I’m one of the only studios in Indianapolis that wasn’t funded by a rich guy who wanted to own a studio,” he says.
His story begins some time before he opened at his current location. “I knew out of high school that this was what I wanted to do. I was taking over my parents’ garage when I was 16 years old, recording bands in there. I started off recording my band, then ended up recording my friends’ bands and everybody I knew.”
Having fallen in love with his chosen career, he says, he went to Full Sail University in Florida. “I graduated from there in ’95 and went and worked for a couple of studios,” he says. An internship at The Lodge in Indianapolis led to him becoming chief engineer. He then went to work for John Mellencamp’s guitarist, Mike Wanchic, at his Echo Park Studios in Bloomington, IN. “I worked at his studio for a year or so and thought, I really want to open my own studio. My family had a place I could use and build my own thing. I opened my own studio in Carmel in ’99.”
You may not know this, but Carmel, IN, is the traffic roundabout capital of the United States, having built over 125 of them since the late ’90s. Unfortunately, Adkins fell victim to the city’s enthusiasm for safe, efficient traffic flow. “They decided they wanted to build a roundabout on the corner where my studio was and told my family they were going to take the building, so I had to move,” he says. “I lucked into a place that had a history and already had studios built, and we’ve been here 12 years.”
Thomas Reynolds, former principal bassist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, had established a 16-track recording studio named TapeMasters at the location in the early 1970s. According to the Sept. 16, 1972, issue of Billboard magazine, the main studio was formerly an auditorium used by WISH-TV, and TapeMasters’ control room was outfitted with an Audio Designs desk and a 3M tape machine.
Adkins had started out with about $15,000 worth of gear, he says, including a Mackie 24×8 board and some Tascam DA-88s. By the time he moved into his present location, he was using Avid Pro Tools. “When I moved, I also had an MCI 636 [mixing console], an Otari MX-80 tape machine and some outboard preamps,” he adds, including Neotek-like Sytek Audio units.
In addition to an SSL G Series compressor, he also had two Eventide boxes he had purchased from TapeMasters years earlier, he says. The Eventide H910 and Instant Flanger can be seen in the historical photos on Azmyth’s website. “They came back to where they’d started from,” he says. “I don’t really use them now, but they’re still on the shelf.”
Adkins replaced the aging MCI JH-600 console in Studio A late last year with a 1995 Neve VR purchased from Sonic Circus in Vermont for $25,000. “It’s not the Neve everybody talks about, but when I was at Full Sail, that’s what they had in their Studio A,” he says.
“The 636 needed an overhaul—I’d had it for 20 years—so I was looking for something different. I couldn’t afford the downtime to overhaul it. I was looking for a Neotek. I didn’t realize I could score a Neve VR for the price.”
Adkins and his staff are enjoying driving Pro Tools through the Neve, he notes, especially when recording full bands. “We’ve got some 1073s and Focusrite and API pieces, but a lot of times it’s nice to have 24 Neve preamps and EQs that you don’t have to spend 20 minutes patching in every day. We had to use the MCI to its full capacity for five or six years; you never knew what you were going to get.”
The analog desk is also paired with the Pro Tools HDX rig on the output side for hybrid mixing, he continues. “We get to use the SSL compressor on the stereo bus and feed it back into Pro Tools to bounce down. One of our engineers is a new-school engineer and has always been in-the-box. He’s never really mixed on consoles, so he’s getting a kick out of it.”
Studio B is an all-digital writing and production room that is popular with hip-hop and rap artists. “There’s a lot of hip-hop and pop in this town; that’s what drives a lot of our business,” he says. “We do about 60 percent hip-hop, and about 40 percent rock and everything else.”
A third space, Studio S, is a fully digital studio designed exclusively for the Azmyth School of Music Technology. The room, outfitted with Pro Tools HD and Native Instruments products, also offers access to the facility’s comprehensive microphone collection and outboard gear.
While artists may not be flocking to Indianapolis to make major records, Azmyth has certainly attracted its share of big names. “We get a lot of national artists, especially on the hip-hop and pop side, who are coming through town and want to record,” Adkins reports. The studio’s client list includes the likes of Eminem and D-12, Snoop Dogg, and local metalcore band Haste the Day. The facility has also been involved in the writing and production of music for TV shows such as The Voice, Pawn Stars and Catfish.
Having come into the recording business when bands such as Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden dominated MTV, Adkins has been happy to roll with the punches as the industry has evolved. “Name five rock bands that are killing it. It’s really hard,” he says. “But I’m learning new things, about music trends and music that I don’t usually listen to, so it’s always interesting.”
Azmyth Recording Studios • www.azmythrecording.com
Azmyth School of Music Technology • www.azmythmusictech.com