Daniel Uphoff has opened a state of the art recording studio in Chester. There’s no question mark behind that statement. Uphoff opened Full Circle Recording about a month ago just west of Chester proper on West Hundred Road.
His endeavor is the next step after Uphoff spent years studying music at VCU then deciding what he really wanted to do, adding two more years to get his degree in music engineering and management.
Uphoff has created what would make any musician salivate. A state of the art recording studio; each room’s walls covered with acoustic treatments with wall coverings installed over it. You would never know it was designed for sound until you leaned on the wall and realized how soft it is. Even the ceilings have sound absorbing treatments called “the cloud” that round out what seems to be sound recording perfect.
He has a bachelor’s degree in music from VCU, and a lot of practical experience.
“They have a recording class up there [VCU] and I’ve spent a lot of time at some downtown studios,” Uphoff said. “Met with the guys there, spent time with them. I’ve worked closely with a couple of guys up there [Richmond] who are doing it.”
Working with a studio Richmond engineer, who helped design the Full Circle Recording studio, Uphoff learned a lot about the finer details picking the brains of the guys who work there. The course he took, called the physics of sound, also added to his experience while he was studying the art of recording on his own.
“You can find anything on the internet,” he said. “The main control room is missing the banks of sliding controls. This control room is sleek yet high tech.”
A large computer monitor is the center of attention in the control room and a custom built deck in front of it, holds the equipment that acts as an interface to input the sound into the computer. Another two-foot square and shallow control panel takes the record information and allows musicians and the engineer to hear what’s been recorded.
A bank of 10 different amplifiers accentuate one wall, while a rack of top-of-the-line guitars lean in a rack on another. The control room has a couple of keyboards as well. Uphoff says one is a midi-keyboard to help make different sounds he needs when adding to a recording, and the other is a keyboard that replicates a piano.
“Some musicians that record here may not have the best of instruments, so I have them here for them,” Uphoff said. While Uphoff has recorded his own band, Dream Atlantic, a heavy rock band, he has also worked with some rap bands and pop groups, although he says he can record anything from rock to country.
“I like working with groups,” he said. “I like multiple voices and instruments, bringing them together and making something.”
Making an album and you’re starting from scratch; it could take weeks. People have to work and the project gets spread out allowing him to fill in the gaps with other smaller projects.
A recording is put together through a number of steps and sometimes a number of individuals will take on each job. The mixer is up first; he or she works with the sound levels during recording; the engineer comes next and he manipulates the sound in a way that could make the song sound completely different through the studios main tool, a computer program called Pro Tools; and then there’s the producer, who could be involved from the time the song is written through production and okays the final sound.
But Uphoff says it’s not uncommon for one person to wear all three hats. He says he has one person who gives him a hand, but for the most part he’s a one man show. The lack of personnel at Full Circle allows Uphoff to keep costs low and build a reputation. He says good artist shouldn’t have to depend on the cost of a studio. He keeps his rates low (for now) and stays busy. He says he’s had several groups come from as far away as Lynchburg and Northern Virginia.
“Once a group finds a studio that they like, they tend to go back to that studio again,” Uphoff said. “They sort of get comfortable there.”
And Full Circle Recording sure offers comfort with a lounge in which to hang out, “Sometimes band members will sleep in here,” he said. A full kitchen and plenty of rooms for recording. Small rooms with speakers to record emulating live sounds; microphones that look like what Edward R. Murrow used, but light years more sophisticated, and a fully-equipped band room.
The face of recording is changing. Not so much technologically, although it is making tremendous leaps in its techniques, but in its expansion into Chester. State of the art recording has reached Chester through the effort of Daniel Uphoff. Now Chester can brag about a top-of-the-line recording studio, a radio station (WGGM) and an arts center that is dying to get off the ground. As one Chester built, “Chester could become the performance arts center of Chesterfield.”