When one says they have a recording studio in their home, usually a microphone in a closet with some padding comes to mind. This is not the case at Gary Nieman’s house where he owns and operates Mattlind Studios.
In 1991, Nieman, the CEO and head engineer of Mattlind Studios, began building and operating the studio in Tucson. In 2003, he moved his studio to a house in Oro Valley.
Driving by the house, one would be none the wiser to know there was a Grammy-award winning quality studio within. Inside, the focus is on empowering people by helping them achieve their dreams within the music business while paying very close attention to the smallest of details to produce the best recording possible.
Walking into the house, there is a kitchen, and a dining room table. There is a refrigerator and microwave and all the amenities of home. White tile and a simple light-colored wood covers most of the floor. But after a few steps into the house, there is a room with an accordion-style sliding door. Within this room, there are large speakers lit by blue and red lights. Dials, sliders, keyboards, screens, monitors, and sound diffusers fill the room, clad with a soft, black leather couch. A screen above the main soundboard displays a live camera feed from one of the other two rooms in the house used for recording. One of those rooms is the living room, which has a concert grand piano and a set of drums. The other recording room is home to numerous microphones and other musical equipment.
Others are involved with the studio in making it run. Along side Nieman, Hector Moreno is the general manager. Jordan Prather is the assistant manager, and Gigi Gonaway is the musical producer and director.
“These days, I think everybody realizes that a lot of people have home recording studios,” Gonaway said. “I think that we are getting an influx of that kind of quality. What we are doing here is trying to keep the quality of what we do, the actual technological aspects of it as well as the honesty and perfection, and to just really try and do it well.”
According to the studio’s website, Gonaway has worked with Mariah Carey, Kenny G, Whitney Houston, and Aretha Franklin to name a few. The company has done mastering for Sony, Universal Studios, BBC, PBS, and NASA.
With clients big and small, Mattlind Studios fights for every decibel of sound.
Each piece of equipment in the house is there for one purpose, and that is to make the music sound better. Nieman has even put a regulator on the electrical input to his house to reduce a possible hum.
“We are trying to teach people about how great music is made,” Nieman said. “There is a lot of confusion in the industry now because of the home studios and people not knowing the difference. The reason we fight for every (decibel), that we try and capture and make sure it is perfect, is because the standard was already set before for us 20 or 25 years ago. Old recordings have that sound that everybody wants to listen to.”
At the helm of the recording studio is a large Neotek Elan board that had already recorded 50 major hits on it. With Nieman’s background, he made it his goal to make it even better.
Nieman’s introduction to music began when he was a young, studying as a concert pianist under Vladimir Horowitz.
His career in music didn’t immediately follow. He studied electrical engineering and microwave engineer. He then went on to work for NASA, and followed by Raytheon, which is what brought him to Tucson in 1991.
“That’s when I decided to put the engineering criteria together with music,” he said. “It wasn’t really based on me not thinking I was so good at it or such an expert at it. It really was to come and see if I could come alongside people and help people.”
Nieman works to help people fulfill their musical dreams by preserving their art so it lasts, while not cutting corners.