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Musician and recording engineer, Peterson Goodwyn, was looking for components to add texture to his audio recordings. With analog recording gear becoming increasingly sought after and consequently, expensive, Goodwyn sought other options. Applying “a little patience and research” Goodwyn realized that he could build the components that he needed for a fraction of the cost of buying them. Connecting with others with a strong DIY spirit, he saw a market for his DIY audio kits and founded DIY Recording Equipment (DIYRE). Like so many great start ups, DIYRE’s foundations were in Goodwyn’s basement. Realizing the limitations of his space and tools, he joined NextFab allowing a greater level of sophistication in development and production.

DIYRE circuit boards made at NextFab
DIYRE “Colour” modules

Goodwyn explains the genesis of his technical ventures, his engineering work and subsequent development of DIYRE, “When my band was recording our second album, I became really fascinated with ‘signal paths’—that is, all the circuitry any recorded sound has to travel through before it’s captured on a hard drive. Try as it might, none of that circuitry is perfectly neutral. So every choice in the studio—from which microphone to use on an instrument, which preamp to plug that mic into, and so on—affects the tone of the recording in some way.

Around that time I was also possessed by the naive assumption that recording bands would be a more stable career choice than playing in them. So I began my career as a freelance audio engineer and found right away that I need a lot of gear. But of course I had no money to buy said gear! So I Googled around and found this forum called GroupDIY where people were building their own recording gear for a fraction of the cost of buying it. This snowballed into an all-consuming hobby and now all-consuming business designing DIY kits.”

Close up of components for digital sound effect board
DIYRE components including the “FE2” DI box

Historically, with analog signals being recorded to tape, the signal path was messy. The sound, being translated to an electronic signal, passed through multiple circuits. Goodwyn explains, ” The “imperfections” of that circuitry and the tape, which we hear as “warmth,” “punch,” “mojo,” etc., became part of what we expect records to sound like.” Contemporary recordings tend to be much cleaner, sometimes as direct as a microphone feeding directly into a digital recorder or even a computer. In order to regain some of that “mojo”, Goodwyn created DIYRE’s flagship product, a modular component system that is highly customizable, called Colour.

DIYRE component close up

“I created Colour to give people a way to introduce a few stages of that old analog “color” into their recordings without spending a mint. Each Colour is a different type of circuit you would have found in an analog studio and imparts a different type to the sound,” says Goodwyn, “Most of our customers are freelance engineers or musicians recording themselves who want good gear at a better price. By buying the kits from us, they get to save some money, build really pro-quality gear, and learn a thing or two about electronics.”

The Colour system is comprised of a rack mountable unit called, appropriately, Palette. Each Palette has three sockets to accept Colour modules. These modules range from classic pentode tube saturation to telephone line distortion, with 20 modules currently available and more in the works.

With access to tools and software at NextFab, Goodwyns process was super-charged.

“I literally went from being able to drill 20 cases per day on my drill press to 200 on the vertical mill. And to a much stricter tolerance!” Goodwyn was also able to utilize the full version of the EAGLE software and quickly found himself developing skills on other machines, “I used the lasers to prototype front panels on acrylic (way faster and cheaper than paying a metal shop). I used the Shopbot to make drilling jigs for myself to up our productivity even further. I used the electronics lab to prototype new circuits.” He also cites the extended benefits of the NextFab facility, “I used the space as a professional place to host meetings and shoot videos. I used the community to get feedback on products I never would’ve thought of myself.”

Goodwyn’s business rapidly expanded via great ideas, hard work and crowd-funding and he realized that he needed his own space, moving his business to its current West Philadelphia headquarters. Maintaining his membership allows him to have access to the tools and community at NextFab without having to further invest in those expensive and specialized tools himself.

Philly Makers – DIY Recording Equipment from Cory J Popp on Vimeo.

Goodwyn continues to expand his DIY network with monthly blog posts and video tutorials. These posts bring traffic to his site which he estimates result in 1% of visitors becoming paying customers, a number that he is very happy with.

In addition to continued product development DIYRE is planning a series of workshops where beginners can learn to solder and learn the basics of audio electronics.Learn more at the DIYRE site: diyrecordingequipment.com

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