South River, NJ. October 2021: Based in New Jersey, High Level Entertainment are an independent record label and recording studio that offers artist development, recording, mixing, and songwriting services. It was founded in 2012 by father and son team, CEO Shon Martin and Vice President, Qwanir Martin.
Finding a Home for High Level Entertainment
With broad experience in music creation and artist production, and a desire to create an inspiring environment to help them achieve their business ambitions, the Martin’s moved into their current studio space in 2017. Located in South River, New Jersey, just an hour outside New York City, the town is home to a lively community for families and young professionals. The location was ideal for the Martin’s, but the studio space which was initially built in the 1980s was designed predominantly for recording hard rock and metal and long overdue a 21st-century refresh.
The brief was to create a stimulating and uplifting space suited to various purposes, including content creation, branding, artist development, and label management offices.
“While the Martin’s didn’t have a fixed idea for what the studio should look like, their general directive was a clean and modern look, with an extra touch of elegance and timeless design that would maintain its relevance long into the future,” remarks Malekpour Design Partners founder, Dave Malekpour.
As with any studio re-design, working inside an existing physical structure can present challenges. The Martin’s called on Malekpour Design Partners to reconfigure a standard studio format into a multi-room facility and build an additional control room within the space. While also taking extra measures to eliminate bi-directional sound transmission issues from monitor playback or tracking. The original layout included an oddly placed control room alcove, which presented a challenge to the team on the best way to utilize the space without compromising acoustic response.
The final physical format of the studio features two control rooms, Studio A and B, with a live room adjacent to control room A for tracking. The awkward alcove in Studio A was converted into a bar for additional creature comforts and fitted with a door to preserve the room’s acoustic response. The smaller Studio B, which was not in the original floor plan of the studio, has been constructed with an isolation booth for vocal tracking.
Having spent time at Quad and Premier studios in Manhattan, the Martin’s also wanted the familiar sound of Augspurger monitors in both control rooms. The Augspurger team was happy to provide the same level of treatment. They installed and meticulously tuned 12” DUO 12V monitors with Sub 18s in control room A and smaller 8” DUO 8 “MiniMain” monitors with SUB 212 in control room B—both systems powered by 4,000W per-side SXE-3D power amps with DSP.
“Now, a project started in control room A could be seamlessly ported and played back in control room B and vice versa with no change in frequency or spatial response. As a result, High Level Entertainment now boasts the world-class audio reproduction that Augspurger is famous for,” explains Malekpour.
Looking to the future
The project took around ten months to complete, with the main build completing in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Inevitably, like so many others, the studios had to remain closed temporarily until it became safe to invite artists back. But now thankfully, High Level Entertainment is fully functional and going from strength to strength.
“Our clients love the atmosphere! Our local clients don’t often have the opportunity to record at bigger studios in NYC, so they value and appreciate that we can offer the same quality and vibe, but here in New Jersey,” notes Shon.
“Malekpour Design Partners offered everything we needed in house. From the design, to the equipment. Working with the Team was truly a blessing and a fascinating process. They understood our vision and brought everything to life,” he continued.
HLE has several projects in the works with each of their in-house artists and many external collaborative projects. They aim to continue to grow their artist roster and provide a home to future upcoming local talent, establishing High Level Entertainment as the premier place to record.
Malekpour Design Partners has also earned a TEC award nomination in Outstanding Creative Achievement/ Studio Design Project. Winners will be announced on January 22, 2022.