Charlie Waymire blends Trident analog hardware with digital plugins for a hybrid approach to multimedia production.
From a young age, Charlie Waymire knew his life would be centered around music. But it took him several years to realize that audio production—not performance—would fulfill his musical creativity.
A drummer by trade, Waymire attended two different music schools and toured the country playing gigs. In fact, it was on tour with Speak No Evil in 2001 when his journey toward audio engineering began. Using early versions of audio and video editing software on his laptop in the back of the tour van, “I would just start making up new intros and outros of the shows every night, just sampling whatever I could,” he says. “That was the very beginning of me getting into the recording side of the industry.”
Around 2005, Waymire started building his own studio where he could record drum tracks for other artists, while also recording original compositions for commercials and television shows like “Malcolm in the Middle” on FOX and Disney’s “Zeke and Luther.” Word quickly spread, and soon, other musicians were asking if they could record sessions in his studio.
“It slowly morphed from me playing on the tracks to me doing more of the engineering for other people,” he says. “In a three or four year span, I went from full-time musician to less playing and more recording everybody else. It gave me more control to create the sounds that people wanted.”
Originally called Ultimate Rhythm Studios, Waymire eventually expanded his focus beyond drum tracks and rebranded as Ultimate Studios Inc., with the goal of helping artists in all genres achieve their musical dreams.
Of course, to accomplish that, he needed the highest quality gear—far more refined than the simple software he started using on the road. He built his studio around equipment from Trident Audio Developments, ranging from the Trident 88 Series Analog Console to the new collection of Trident Digital Edition Plugins. Here’s how Waymire takes a hybrid approach to mixing, recording, and live streaming by blending the best analog and digital tools from Trident.
When building out the control room at Ultimate Studios, “the most important thing was flexibility,” Waymire says. “I wanted something that would allow me to maneuver quickly through different types of sessions,” he says, “something I could use as a creative tool to create the sounds that artists wanted.”
Choosing a Trident console for this task was “a no-brainer” for Waymire, who had previously recorded on Trident 80B consoles at other studios around L.A. He knew a Trident desk would give him the best of both worlds—a clean transparent audio punch with the ability to add warm, thick analog tones when needed.
“I always loved the sound of the Trident,” he says, “especially on drums. The Trident takes a kick drum, and not only does it add some weight, but it actually helps punch it through without getting fuzzy. With the low-end EQ on the Trident, you can really drive the bottom and get fantastic kick sounds.”
With 27dB of headroom, the Trident 88 console allows Waymire to push the board hard to get the big sound he craves. “The top and bottom end are more open, which means I get a little more weight and air out of the instruments, especially drums.” he says. “It’s open but it doesn’t sound sterile; there’s still a bit of roundness to it that I really like.”
Whether he’s recording country, metal, pop, jazz, or anything in between, Waymire says his Trident console easily accommodates a full spectrum of tonal nuances for his clients. From metal bands like Blood Feast Ritual to the sweet pop-rock of Rikki Valentina, the simple input transformers make the Trident flexible enough to handle any sonic flavor.
“I could go from doing a death metal band to having a string quartet in the next day,” Waymire says. “For the death metal band, I may be pushing the board hard, especially on the transformer, getting some really punchy, fat, fantastic sounds. With the string quartet, I may use the channels that have no input transformers because it sounds so much more open. For any other pop, rock, whatever, I can go right to the transformers and get that gritty tone.”
Whatever sound he’s looking for, whether tracking sessions or mixing tracks, Waymire relies on his board almost daily, knowing he can depend on it to deliver.
“Besides my monitors, the only other gear that I literally use in every session is the Trident console,” Waymire says, explaining that the 88 is the centerpiece of his studio. “I actually don’t have many outboard preamps anymore because I’m able to get the sounds I want out of the Trident. Although I experiment from time to time, most of the time I end up right back on the board because I can manipulate the tones in so many different ways that it’s just easier to stay on the console.”
As a result, Waymire doesn’t do much additional processing after printing passes from the board. “If I need to do a little cleanup, I can, but usually that EQ sounds so good already—no extra processing necessary,” he says. “I may have a little compression on kick and snare, but the toms and overheads don’t need it, because I’m able to get all these wonderful sounds with the board. I’m happy, and the artists are happy, too.”
Although making music is the end goal at Ultimate Studios, Waymire and his production partner, Ernesto Homeyer, have built the business into a multi-media production hub.
Similarly, on the Ultimate Studios YouTube channel, Waymire regularly takes viewers behind the scenes with recording workshops, production lessons, and other instructional videos. As popular as these how-to posts are, it was the live streaming studio performances that ultimately grew his YouTube channel to nearly 20,000 subscribers.
“I went from having a YouTube channel of like 600 subscribers for 5 or 6 years, to 10,000 in nine months after we started live streaming,” Waymire says—all without spending a single advertising dollar.
Early on, they hosted Toys for Tots concerts during Christmas, with a small in-studio audience and a live streaming feed. Then, they began hosting Console Side Chats, where they’d discuss recording concepts and answer questions on the air. But then, in 2020, the pandemic hit.
“As soon as the clubs shut down, I went to my partner and said, ‘We already have a background in live streaming. We need to upgrade our rig and do concerts throughout this shutdown. Let’s turn this into a quasi-venue,’” Waymire remembers. So, they invested in three 4K Panasonic cameras, three 1080 Canon cameras, an eight-camera switch, a few GoPros, and a new iMac that runs it all.
Live streaming concerts have featured everything from all-world jazz fusion to indie rock, folk, string quartets, and pianists. Artists traveled to L.A. all the way from the East Coast to leverage this multi-media streaming service during the pandemic.
“This allowed me to find artists that I wanted to record and promote, and get them on a live stream,” Waymire says. “But it was also our way of promoting a new, expanded service. We now offer a live stream and a live recording session, all wrapped into one, so the artists get a multi-track recording that they can mix and release. Plus, we’re also getting all these great HD camera angles, so it’s a video shoot, too. Not only do we reach huge audiences on a live stream, but the artists also get all this content to keep things going through the pandemic.”
What really sets these live streams apart, though, is the professional-grade quality of the product, both sonically and visually. After watching plenty of other live streams that looked nice but sounded terribly out-of-sync, Waymire and his partner set out to perfect their streaming process with the Trident 88.
“We spent a massive amount of time figuring out how to get everything interfaced with the console, because I wanted to mix it live, rolling right off the Trident,” he says. “We interfaced that workflow with our video rig to make sure everything lined up.”
The live streaming sessions put Trident’s workhorse tenacity to the test. “Pretty much the entire board gets used for live streams, because I mix them all on the board,” Waymire explains. “One stereo aux-in feeds our mix buss that feeds the stream, and the others are set up for stereo effects that I can mix in real time, so nothing is coming from in-the-box at all. It’s all right there in front of me in the board, which makes it very easy for me to react to what’s going on in real time.”
In fact, the resulting sounds are so clean that Waymire has been accused of premixing—which he considers a compliment and a testament to the Trident 88.
Waymire and Homeyer just released a brand new video series on their YouTube channel called “ opens in a new windowSongs from the Studio” where they take viewers into the studio while they write, record and release original music. “We bring in different artists to write and record with us as well as set fun recording limitations to keep things interesting and creative” Waymire explains. “Each song will have a 3-4 part mini-documentary video series and we will officially release each song to all the streaming services once it’s done. This show is all about music and the people that make that music!”
Powering Up with Plugins
Being able to interface all his outboard gear through an analog console makes Waymire feel like he’s “in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon,” he says. But what’s a starship without some high-tech tools to boost its power? Likewise, Waymire’s studio has evolved into a hybrid approach using Trident’s new Digital Edition software plugins.
While he often uses the console’s built-in EQ, he favors the Trident CB9066 Digital Edition Equalizer Plugin to add extra punch to his mixes. “It has variable EQ settings, which I don’t have on the board,” he explains. “It still has that characteristic Trident sound that you expect from Trident hardware, but it also has the high-low filters, which I use all the time. Sometimes I just need a touch more EQ beyond the board, so I’ll go to the plugin.”
Trident’s LTS Tiltration Plugin has become another go-to tool in Waymire’s hybrid workflow. “I find myself using that saturation on my top and bottom filter quite a bit,” he says. “Sometimes I just need some high and low filtering, but I love the mid-band adjustment.”
The 9066 and Tiltration plugins are “such quick tone-shapers’ ‘ that Waymire often pulls them into his mix buss early in the recording process during pre-production. When he needs to quickly send a sample to an artist or another producer, the plugins help him make quick tweaks without sacrificing quality.
The main advantage of digital plugins, he says, is cleaning up resonance and other issues with tighter control than he can capture on the board. “If I just need a little push but I’m out of band on the board, I’ll pull up the 9066 to help out my analog EQ,” he says. “If I have a kick drum with some resonance that’s fighting with the bass, I can queue in on that frequency, and then save all my analog outboard gear for the fun pushing and tone shaping.”
After all, Waymire says, making music should be fun—not a tedious technical task. And it’s hard not to have fun when creative musicians are gracing his studio on a regular basis. Famous drummers like Ray Luzier from Korn, Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brian Tichy from Whitesnake, Glen Sobel from Alice Cooper’s band, and Lionel Richie’s drummer, Oscar Seaton, Jr., have all recorded at Ultimate Studios alongside up-and-coming indie artists spanning nearly every genre.
“I have to pinch myself sometimes because I’m sitting in the control room listening to these sounds, and I have to remember to look up and see these talented people making music in front of me,” Waymire says. “It’s so fulfilling artistically to work with musicians that are this good. These artists are the ‘ultimate’ part of Ultimate Studios, because without them, there is no studio.”