LOS ANGELES, CA—L.A.-based English record producer, engineer, mixer, musician and composer Warren Huart has a well-deserved reputation for turning music into gold—or, not infrequently, platinum. He has also found a niche in the education market with his Produce Like A Pro website and YouTube channel, sharing knowledge and fostering the idea of community among the industry’s practitioners.
He didn’t start his online business for the extra income, said Huart, whose Spitfire Studio is in the hills above L.A. “I felt there was a gap: There was a healthy market in helping people with only $300 to spend. Then there was the elitist way of doing things, interviewing famous people. Which is great, but I wanted to be in the middle and bring all these people together.”
Huart’s goal is to demystify the recording process and demonstrate that talent, a passion for music and hard work, instead of an encyclopedic knowledge of the technology or a dependence on the best equipment, are the keys to a fulfilling career in the industry. “I want democratization,” he said. “There’s no difference between you and me and a kid in Wisconsin. If you have a passion for music, that’s all that matters.”
Initially moving to L.A. more than 20 years ago as a recording artist, Huart eventually found himself assisting, engineering, mixing and producing with a growing circle of industry colleagues—a pool of talent he can call on for his in-depth videos. “What’s more fun than sitting in a room with a guy that produced Beck’s first album on a Fostex R8? I want to talk to a guy like Rob Schnapf. He made a record on the cheapest, crappiest equipment available in 1994 and it happened to be the biggest album of the year,” he said.
Huart learned the old-fashioned way: “I had to claw my way up. I would find a young band, produce them, take them to a label, they would sign them and immediately be taken away from me. Eventually I got enough of a reputation that I was given a few projects.” His list of credits has since grown to include major projects with Aerosmith, The Fray, Daniel Powter, James Blunt, Ace Frehley and numerous others.
The studio came with the house that Huart bought six or seven years ago from TV composer Chad Fisher, the drummer on the first album he made as an artist after relocating to L.A. Fisher invited him to the house one day, he recalled: “I said, I love this house; 15 years later, I bought it.”
The equipment list has since grown. “The SSL desk was put in by a friend who sublet for the first year after I moved in. That was the first year I worked with Aerosmith, so I was pretty much gone. I bought it from him.”
Huart is a longtime user of Genelec 1031 and 1032 monitors. “The 1032s are frickin’ amazing speakers. Tim Palmer still mixes on them; he’s one of my favorite mixers,” said Huart.
He recently added a pair of Unity Audio Super Rock speakers and auditioned Genelec’s new 8300 series Smart Active Monitors. Both offer increased depth compared to previous generations, he noted.
“What used to be great about older speaker designs from the nineties was that everything was pushed forward, in your face. Twenty years later, everything is loud, compressed, limited and a lot more up-front, so what you need is something with a lot of depth.”
Listening to a project tracked at United Recording on both pairs of monitors, he said, “I soloed the drums, and it reminded me of being in the room at United. That’s where you start to appreciate the Super Rocks and the new Genelecs. The ribbon tweeter on the Super Rock, in particular, creates a lot of depth.”
These days, once the drums are tracked, engineers are typically working just with mono or stereo sources. Huart wanted to add an inexpensive pair of stereo condenser mics to his collection, which includes a Neumann U 47, C12As and RCA ribbons. “A friend of mine said you should try out this new company, Lewitt. I got two LCT 550s for the same price as one [AKG] 414. They sounded good and they became my stereo mics for piano, overheads and rooms.”
There is a lot of outboard gear in the room. “I go to many sophisticated, expensive studios and I now have more gear than them,” he laughed.
He added, “Part of the wonderful thing about the old analog equipment is that it was another thing that screwed things up. Now that everything is digital, I’m thinking of new ways to screw things up, and I’m trying to encourage people to create their own interesting ways of recording stuff.”
To that end, he said, ““What I’m starting to enjoy, and I think Waves is the first company to think this way, is the move away from stereotypes. We all know what an 1176, a 160, a Neve, an API is. But if I’m 13 years old and I want to start recording, why do I need to know that?”