In his home studio interviewed by Mitch Gallagher and Mark Hutchins for Sweetnotes Spring 2012
Musician, songwriter, arranger, sound engineer, voice over artist, music producer, Robby Benson has had a recording studio in his home since the ’70’s — the equipment has changed radically since then, but the purpose is the same: Music!!! (and recording his own voice overs via ISDN lines for clients like GE, etc.) After finishing 8 months work on his Creation Station for Lyric’s Love Light Revolution with his daughter Lyric Benson, Mitch Gallagher interviewed Robby for Sweetnotes, a publication of sweetwater.com.
By Mitch Gallagher and Mark Hutchins
Yes, that Robby Benson. He may be most widely known for his film roles and heartthrob status in the late ’70s and early ’80s —not to mention as the voice of the Beast in Disney’s hugely popular Beauty and the Beast. But Benson is more of a renaissance man than most people realize. He’s a best-selling author with a new book on the way. He cowrote the film One on One and has scored films, including Walk Proud, Die Laughing, and Modern Love. He placed a song in The Breakfast Club. (“We Are NotAlone,” sung by wife Karla DeVito.) He has been a professor of film for more than 22 years; his last teaching job was at NYU. Benson began as a stage actor, and he has appeared in several Broadway productions. But it may be his first love (aside from Karla and his kids), music, that truly defines him. From his early appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand to his Pepsi and Dr. Pepper jingles to his full-fledged recording productions (most recently, his daughter Lyric’s album Lyric’s Love Light Revolution), Benson has remained immersed in music. “My entire life has really been more about music than anything else, but it’s not the thing that has been publicized,” he points out. In fact, he’s maintained a home studio since the ’70s, and his enthusiasm has never waned.
“I started in the ’70s with TASCAM stuff,” he recalls. “I had an 8-track studio with the patch bay that I miss so much to this day, because that’s how my mind works: common sense.” He used the studio to work out songs and movie scores, and for demos for his wife (an accomplished Broadway performer and a recording artist — she also toured with Meatloaf during his Bat Out of Hell tour; you may have seen her in the “Paradise By Dashboard Light” video) as well as Diana Ross. “I’m very proud of what Karla and I accomplished in that little studio,” he says, adding that he’s excited about recording her next project with his current computer-based system. Benson points out that moving from analog to digital was a real leap. “It was a huge, huge crossover for me into the digital world because I’m 56, and there are probably a lot of people like me who understand that there are amazing possibilities in what’s happening and what we can do now in the digital world.” He also points out that his career dictated the move. “I had to make the transition based on my voice-over career. I used to do a lot of voice overs, and I’m a bit of a hermit, so I got an ISDN line into my house, and I would engineer and perform in a closet and make the clients very happy. And some of those voice overs were for credible clients — I mean, one was the GE account.”
Benson is a fan of how a professional-sounding project can be made in a home-studio environment. “When I made Lyric’s album, the entire album was made using a Creation Station. The idea that I could put my DAW in there and then have some plug-ins and just go at it [was great] — just me and the computer, no one else in the room, with some monitors at a really low level, literally trying to hear everything in the song that I could possibly hear. I had so much fun, I can’t tell you. And the whole thing was done with Sweetwater gear — everything.” Benson appreciates Sweetwater’s personal approach. “I have never worked with a group of people who have helped creatively like every single person at Sweetwater. There is not one person that I have run into who hasn’t gone out of their way to make me able to be more creative.”
Benson’s Go-to Gear
Whether he’s doing voice-over work, producing full-length album projects, or just following his creative muse, Robby Benson relies on studio gear that fits his approach and gives him the results he wants. Here is a sampling of his go-to gear and software.
Sweetwater Creation Station audio computer
Steinberg Cubase production software
Steinberg UR28M USB interface
Groove3 tutorial software
Sonnox R3 EQ plug-in
Universal Audio UAD card and plug-ins
iZotope Ozone mastering plug-in bundle
Neumann U 87 microphone
sE Electronics Reflexion filter
Novation Impulse 25-key controller
Novation UltraNOVA synthesizer
Native Instruments Guitar Rig software
Roland GR-55 guitar synth/processor
M-Audio active monitors
Sennheiser HD 380 headphones
Creation Station: The Heart of Robby’s Home Studio
Robby Benson counts on his Sweetwater Creation Station audio computer as the center of his recording rig. He explains, “You can make music all night long, all day long, and it’s not going to end up costing you thousands of dollars. A whole album lived inside my Creation Station. That’s fantastic!” Built from the ground up for audio, our ultra-fast and compact Creation Stations are perfect for running today’s powerful DAWs, plug-ins, and virtual instruments. Call your Sales Engineer today and choose the Creation Station that fits your needs best.