Grammy-nominated production duo Audio Blueprint is composed of Kimo Kaulani and Geri King, an inseparable pair of production wizards who have been working together since 2000. Kaulani broke into the industry when he was hired as a keyboardist for Capitol Records. In 2007, after a couple years of ivory tickling and filter sweeping, Kaulani hopped from New York to Los Angeles and founded Audio Blueprint with his longtime partner Geri King. King’s background in lyric writing, composition, and music for film and television dovetailed nicely with Kaulani’s instrumental prowess and golden producer’s ear, and they’ve got the client roster to prove it—it’s peppered with A-list names like Lenny Kravitz, Wu-Tang International, Maroon 5, and Cindy Blackman.
Audio Blueprint have escalated their operations over the past several years, and they now offer a full-service, one-stop shop for all things audio production and marketing, including recording facilities, graphic-design services, and specialty record labels Khepera Records, Sonic Flux Music, and Endless Soul Music. Audio Blueprint’s repertoire is completely genre-agnostic. Try to find another production duo that boasts both gospel and metal on the same resume!
Kaulani and King have chosen PreSonus hardware and software for their production solutions and are keen to share some insights. “For a long time we were using Studio One Professional 2, a FaderPort, and an AudioBox 22VSL,” Kaulani says, “But we recently added two AudioBox 1818VSLs and two Monitor Stations, and we have two sets of Eris monitors on pre-order!” The core of Audio Blueprint’s rig, however, remains Studio One.
“I am using Studio One for composing, recording, voiceovers, and scoring in our private studio, and I also have a copy on my laptop for use in other commercial studios with my AudioBox 22VSL,” Kaulani says. “I was first introduced to Studio One by Teddy Riley. We were both using another DAW, and I know how serious he is about his DAWs! At first, I was reluctant to give it a serious workout, but then Geri and I jumped right in. Although I didn't know at the time that PreSonus was a software manufacturer, I am pleasantly surprised with the product!”
“You know how it is when testing out a new program,” King adds. “I need my tools to be intuitive, and I had been preprogrammed to the idea that any robust program couldn’t be easy to learn. With Studio One, the so-called ‘learning curve’ was ridiculous—because there was none! I had to keep reminding myself that the functionality was much simpler than I was used to. Oh, you want an instrument? They are all lined up on the right side of the screen. Wouldn’t it be great if I could just drag it to the track? Oh wait, I can! Wow! Usually when I am writing, I just drag a VST into the Edit window, and a track is automatically created, armed, and ready to record without me having to do much else.
“I can just get my idea out and fiddle with the intricacies later,” King continues. “At first, I had some concerns. I worried that a program so simple would be missing some key elements. But Studio One hasn’t disappointed.”
When discussing Studio One, ease-of-use is a recurring theme for King and Kaulani. “I love Studio One’s layout, and the ease of finding what I want,” Kaulani states. “I love the fact that everything is only a click away: sounds, loops, instruments, everything. I also love the integration with the FaderPort. It's like having a large-format mixer in a small package!
“It’s really easy to build a song thanks to the drag-and-drop features,” Kaulani continues. “I see that other DAW manufacturers are adding this—Studio One is a trendsetter! If I like something, and want it somewhere else, all I have to do is drag it over and drop it in. It’s a lifesaver. When writing a song, sometimes I only have a few moments when my brain is hot to find the sound I want before I forget what I was thinking. Studio One makes this a non-issue.”
“It’s ideal for when I’m in my creative zone,” King agrees. “When I am working, my mind is going a mile a minute, and I don’t want to stop to set something up to get an idea down. I want to drag, drop, and go! Once I open up a song file, all my VSTs and audio files are listed on a side panel, and I can shift between sounds, effects, and audio files within the window—with no separate pop-up windows to navigate. I can drag and drop the instruments I want without losing any momentum while I write. I don’t even have to create a track! I just drop the new instrument below the last track.
The Audio Blueprint team is happy to expand on their favorite elements of Studio One. “Auto-save is a lifesaver,” Kaulani declares. “It saves often and allows me to choose a newer version of my songs when opening a file.” King appreciates this feature, as well, adding, “Well, in my case, Auto-save has saved more than just a song. I had a mental break one day and just shut down my system without thinking, so that saved me big time! I like how I can choose from various versions of Auto-save if I want to go back a version or two. When I open a file, Studio One lets me know if there is a newer auto-saved version of the project since I last saved it, and I have the option of updating my project to the new version, discarding that Auto-saved version completely, or keeping it as a separate version.”
Once King gets rolling, she doesn’t stop! “Oh, another feature I love is how quickly I can go from working on my tracks on the Song page to creating a stereo mixdown on the Project page. The song is sent to the Project page just by clicking Create Project and selecting the song file I want. Studio One mixes down the song to a stereo file, and opens it up in the Project page so I am all set up to master, or make a WAV or MP3, or export a file to send to the mastering plant. And if I make a change to the song, all I have to do is click Update Project, and any changes I made in the song file are automatically updated in the Project page! That saves a lot of time over re-rendering, mixing down, and then re-importing the file.”
“I also like the Revert command because it can get rid of all the changes I have made to a song since opening the program,” King says. “I don’t have to close without saving and then reopen the file. That’s like a super undo button.
“I used to try and compensate with other programs by creating different instrument set-ups and templates depending on what I might use,” King continues. “But I think that locks artists into over-using the same sounds and instruments. I really like the Impact drum sampler and how I can drag and drop any sound directly from the file browser into it and build a kit or sound shape natively. With Studio One, I can find all my audio files within the browser easily and preview them on the fly—in time to the project I am working on—to quickly see if a particular audio piece will fit or not!”
The Audio Blueprint team closes with some kind words for the PreSonus team. “Studio One actually exceeds every expectation and experience I have had with other DAWs. It sounds better right out of the box. It gives me ease of use and excellent time management by integrating everything from recording to mastering. And the Studio One support team is very responsive to questions!” “That is a big deal for me,” King adds. “Nothing sucks more than being in the middle of a writing or recording session and hitting a wall with a problem in the program and having to scrap what I are doing or redo it all in another program. Having access to the PreSonus support team makes this a non-issue for us.”
“We were recently working on a commercial for a Pharmaceutical company,” Kaulani says. “We were recording voiceovers and composing music in another DAW when it just crashed. Because of the dongle situation, it told me I was no longer licensed to use the product. Not good! Instead of trying to fix the issue with a client in front of me, we switched to Studio One. We completed the music composition and recording, mixed it, and delivered it to the client.”