Los Angeles native Jason Serrano benefited from a highly musical upbringing. He spent some of his formative years in the award-winning Polytechnic High School Marching Band, and later went on to earn a degree in Sound Engineering from the Los Angeles Recording School. His notable efforts as both a drummer and DJ in the L.A. area earned him residencies all over America’s West Coast, and he has been producing, engineering, and collaborating for Skylark Recordings since 2003. Currently, Serrano is a live-sound engineer at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood and offers music production and live recording services through his company, Mimic Recordings.
Serrano’s PreSonus® StudioLive™ digital mixer is a common thread throughout his sonic endeavors. “I learned about PreSonus from a friend who had a StudioLive 16.4.2,” Serrano recalls. “He ran through it with me, and I was sold! I felt that it was an all-around great product for the price. I did my own research, bought one, and it changed my life. It covers all the parameters I need for live and studio recordings. I chose the StudioLive for its audio quality and diverse features, of course, but the price wasn’t bad either!”
Serrano and his StudioLive stay quite busy. “I can get anywhere from 10 or 15 acts to 30 or 40 in a week,” Serrano says. “They do a fabulous job at the Roxy—they keep me busy! I use the StudioLive 16.4.2 and Capture™ for mixing and recording live shows, while simultaneously using use the StudioLive for the monitor mix.
“It has everything I need right in front of me: gating, EQ, all the effects—there’s no guesswork at all,” Serrano continues. “That’s one of the reasons I chose the PreSonus. Not just the great sound but because of its user-friendly nature. I am now much more efficient in helping the band, getting a mix going, and creating a great final product.
“At the Roxy, it’s usually a little difficult because the board is behind a wall, behind the band,” Serrano points out. “It’s like back-of-house instead of front-of-house! Fortunately, I can use StudioLive Remote on my iPad. It lets me actually be at front-of-house to mix the band; I can control the board from a good 20 or 30 yards away. It’s so great, and with little to no latency at all. I move the fader on the iPad, and it controls the mixer perfectly.”
Serrano’s enthusiasm for the StudioLive is contagious. He has even begun to convert some of the other audio engineers at the fabled venue! “I introduced the StudioLive to On the Rox, the large performance space above the Roxy,” Serrano reflects. “I move the house board out and bring in the StudioLive almost every time I am there. It’s so much easier and sounds so much better, instantly. The other sound engineers there are jumping onboard with what it can do. There might be a time when it could actually be a permanent fixture at the Roxy, which would be great!”
Serrano champions the StudioLive’s Virtual StudioLive Smaart® integration as a critical element of his live workflow. “I’ve been using the Smaart Room Analysis Wizard on a regular basis,” he states. “The Spectrograph and real-time analyzer make tuning the room really easy. I can tune the room quickly, and dialing in the monitors using the Smaart Spectograph is great. The colorful RTA interface in Virtual StudioLive makes targeting and eliminating feedback incredibly easy.”
Serrano’s StudioLive winds up coming home with him after his shows at the Roxy, where it is a mainstay of his productions.
“In the studio, I use the StudioLive for everything you would ordinarily use a mixer for. I have it set up as an in-line mixer, like in major studios,” Serrano says. “When recording into Studio One®, I first set my gain structure for the recording and then use the FireWire returns to create a monitor mix with the faders. It’s exactly like an in-line board. I’m recording but still able to create a monitor mix. It’s efficient, and I couldn’t ask for anything else. I’m doing some mastering with it, as well. The RTA helps me out on mastering.”
On Serrano’s most recent single, "Guide of Souls," his 16.4.2 served as a critical sonic contributor. “With 'Guide of Souls,' I used the StudioLive for mixdown and mastering,” he explains. “I flip-flopped back and forth. But for the mix, I used the compressors and gating for some triggering, and it worked just fine! For example, I did some recording for a drum loop I needed. While recording into the StudioLive, I apply the mixer’s EQ and compression and recording the processed signal into Studio One. I use the Digital Out button to bring the StudioLive sounds into my recording.”