Red House is the brainchild of Raja Singh, who opened the Walnut Creek facility in December of 2005 with a vision of creating more than just a run-of-the-mill rehearsal facility. “There have always been places where people can rent a warehouse space for a few hours,” he explains. “But I felt there was an opportunity to create more of a community — a place to not only improve your “chops’, but play live, record a demo, and all while meeting and interacting with others.”
Singh brought together a team of veteran engineers, producers and instructors, creating a supportive environment where, for a monthly membership fee, musicians - either accomplished or aspiring - can take private lessons, join group seminars, rehearse their band, jam with friends, or even record a demo and play a live gig.
“We’ve found that a significant portion of our membership are people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s,” Singh observes. “They have families and busy careers, but still want to play their instruments and need to do it on their schedule, and in a classy environment. They may start by simply joining a jam session, many of which are designed for less experienced players, and often end up taking some lessons to tighten their chops.”
Singh continued, “We regularly make introductions of perspective band mates and set them up with a rehearsal space. Before you know it we’re helping them to book their first gig and even recording a live show. We’re a pretty complete service here.”
The rooms at Red House are all well appointed, offering high-quality gear and a comfortable, creative environment. The Music Lounges are pre-equipped rehearsal and recording suites with easy-to-operate gear and a do-it-yourself vibe. Each Lounge is outfitted with a Mackie Onyx 1640 mixer and FireWire interface, connected to a PowerMac G5 with a Mackie Universal Control Surface and SRM350 monitors.
“The Onyx was really the perfect choice for our Music Lounges,” explains Singh. “The mixer is simple and intuitive, so our customers and staff can get up and running quickly, but it’s also a professional piece of gear that people are excited to use. Plus, the breadth of recording options - including FireWire and 16-channel outputs - make it a perfect songwriting and pre-production board.”
Sound quality was also a critical part of the decision to go with the Mackie Onyx mixers. Singh explained, “People need to feel as though the equipment is helping them to realize their potential, rather than hindering it. I’ve been really amazed at the quality of the Onyx mic pre in particular. Combined with the EQ, which is very musical, we’re hearing a lot of amazing sounding demos coming out of these rooms.”
Those wanting more serious studio time can book the Recording Studio, equipped with a full Pro Tools|HD2 system, as well as a Mackie 24-fader control surface, Big Knob and Onyx 800R pre-amp. A pair of Mackie HR-824 monitors completes the setup. “The 824’s are awesome,” Singh remarks, “and the Onyx 800R not only sounds good, but its digital output helps us maximize our Pro Tools interface.”
The Performance Hall is where jam sessions, open mics and nightly performances are held. The venue accommodates an audience of 100 or more, and is equipped with a Mackie Onyx 3280 32-channel mixer, as well a complete selection of Mackie S400 Series passive loudspeakers. “The Onyx preamps (in the 3280) make recording high-quality live shows very easy,” Singh reports. “The recording of a recent “Private Concert” presented by (local classic rock station) KSAN sounded so good, they played it on air in its entirety.”
The sound reinforcement system for the Performance Hall is a combination of two Mackie S408 passive loudspeakers atop a pair of Mackie Active SWA1501 subwoofers. TAPCO J Series amplifiers power the Mackie S408 boxes. A selection of Mackie Active SRM450 and SRM350 speakers pull monitor duty and serve as portable systems for location work and special events.
“Red House contributes live music to a variety of outdoor festivals in our community,” reports Dustin Smith, Red House Principal Engineer. “We also move our gear around a lot - configuring it in our different studios to meet varying customer needs. We’ve found that the combination of power and portability in the Mackie SRM Series speakers is perfect for these applications.”
Smith continued, “The Performance Hall is relatively shallow and wide, so we required a system that could provide good coverage and high output, without breaking down at the outer edges. After considering several systems, we decided that the Mackie S408s provided the best sound, while delivering consistently strong coverage throughout the room.”
In addition to the various workspaces, Red House offers a Pro Shop, where guests can pick up strings and other supplies, or simply unwind with an after-session espresso and a bite at the Whammy Bar.
It hasn’t taken long for word about Red House to get around. In a world where musicians have become increasingly isolated in their home studios, Red House represents a much-needed opportunity for musical interaction. With an expansion plan already in the works, one hopes that the future holds a Red House in every town. Check out Red House online at www.redhouselive.com.