PLAYING CINCY: Tour the Nation’s First Smart Recording Studio

Producer Evan “X” Johnson’s awards line the studio halls. Photos by Victoria Moorwood.

When CEO / award-winning producer Evan “X” Johnson and President Cameron Napier rebranded, relocated and launched Timeless Recording Studio, they had one question on their minds—how can we improve?

The two tech-savvy music professionals had already made names for themselves as innovative and reliable recording studio owners, but they were ready to elevate their craft. And so, the world’s first ‘smart recording studio’ was born.

“A smart studio is defined as a recording facility that has interconnected devices to make the experience for the client very unique,” said Cameron, explaining the concept behind their Cincinnati smart studio. “Specifically, imagine being able to book a recording session and create the environment you want to have—from lighting, interconnectivity from the Wi-Fi, and also having a sense of security for your data and your files, all being transferred all at the click of a button, all at voice automation.”

It sounds pretty complex, but it’s the future of recording technology. Everyday we use smart technology and voice automation to look up directions to nearby coffee shops, lock our doors after we’ve left the house and even order groceries. It makes sense that these technologies should infiltrate the artist recording process, and in Cameron and Evan’s studio, clients see the benefits that these advancements can have on their music.

Unlike analog studios, digital studios offer more flexibility in going back and making changes to recorded audio. A smart studio expands on that and integrates smart technology into the existing and versatile options that digital recording already provides. With the addition of the new tech, more doors are opened in terms of the artist’s recording experience, as well as data security and sharing. But, sometimes, artists just like to use the tech to flex in the booth.

“People book time just so they can come change the lights,” laughed Cameron.

It’s all about creating the most comfortable environment for recording, while using the latest technology to perfect your audio. And if that sometimes means voice-automated lighting color changes, so be it.

Clients and recording artists sign the booth wall after recording.

Of course, smart technology is experimental technology, and a smart studio is not immune to occasional technical difficulties. Whereas Evan seems to have the magical vocal tone that allowed him to change lighting and play music via Alexa, Cameron joked “We fight sometimes” when referring to the voice-activated virtual assistant.

The guys are glad to make Cincinnati the birthplace of this studio tech integration and they hope to expand it to studios nationwide.

“I think this has the potential to be the next big thing,” said Evan. “We’re the first to kind of start the infrastructure and hopefully it can be perfected.”