Denver Music Scene : The Wheelhouse Studio Offers World Class Gear & Expertise for Any Budget

A view from the throne. The Wheelhouse Studio features custom drums kits and pinball!

One of the greatest parts about opening The Music Range is the people I continue to meet. I am constantly in direct contact with a diverse group of folks who have taken their love for music and the arts beyond casual enjoyment. It is incredibly inspiring to be around such creativity and, as a fan of the arts, its endlessly interesting to me. One such meeting happened recently with Jason Wheeler, owner and engineer at The Wheelhouse Studio, a full-service recording studio in Arvada.

Jason Wheeler at the helm in the control room of The Wheelhouse Studio.

A few months ago I began to notice pictures of a local studio showing up in my Instagram feed. It was, of course, The Wheelhouse Studio account and at some point I decided to reach out to say “hi”. A couple messages back-and-forth and a few days later Jason Wheeler, the man behind Wheelhouse, was standing inside The Music Range taking a tour. Jason has been an active drummer in the Denver music scene for a few decades and he has the names and stories to back it up. After taking a full tour and talking about all things music, Jason ended up booking some time for his band Black Yeti in one of our rooms. Then, a week later, Jason and Black Yeti were back again at TMR so Jason and I decided it was time I come up to see his project, The Wheelhouse Studio.

A pair of ELI Distressors, a staple in any serious studio.

Now, I’ve done a little DIY recording for demos and I watch all those cool recording studio tours on Youtube. I know just enough about this kind of stuff to know its not easy, it takes a decent amount of good gear (and knowing how to use it), it takes a good ear, and it takes a whole lot of time and patience. As a fan of the art and someone who really nerds out on gear and the inspired spaces people create to record, I was very excited to see The Wheelhouse Studio. When I first walked into the control room I immediately spied matching Distressors from Empirical Labs and dual Manley CORE channel strips. Yes, this is when I knew Wheelhouse was no joke and Jason is someone who swings for the bleachers.

I know that blue glow anywhere! A duo of Manley CORE channel strips at the heart of The Wheelhouse Studio.

While hanging out in the control room, Jason cued up a couple projects he is working on. On the first track Jason told me he had just tracked the drums that day. And they sounded big! That’s one great perk to recording with Jason, especially for solo songwriters. He’s your built-in drum machine! I know for many that would be a strong selling point. To add, we went over all the different mics he uses for capturing drums and the list was long. Depending upon the type of drum sound you want, Jason will select the types of microphones and placements, not only where to put the mics on and around the drums themselves but also where to position in other areas of the room in order to capture a fuller drum frequency. Recording drums involves a multitude of microphones and variables and having a drummer as your skipper in this area is priceless. Jason knows recording, Jason knows drums, and Jason sure as heck knows how to record drums.

Jason Wheeler’s reflection captured in the chrome of his sub kick mic enclosure.

Wheelhouse has a toolbox full of tools to use in the tracking room and I mean that literally. There’s a big red Craftsman tool cabinet full of guitar effects and microphones. One really cool piece is the Sonic Farm 2DI4 Pentode Direct Box, which is used by bass players so they can run their bass directly into the recording console. A studio must-have! But what makes this one super cool is the fact it is Sting’s DI box of choice! Hey, if its good enough for the tantric bobby its good enough for me! Next up is yet another Craftsman tool chest and this thing has drawers and drawers of microphones! That’s a good thing, because what’s a recording studio without mics?! If you know anything about recording music you are aware that different microphones affect a different sound character to the captured music. Typically any one of your favorite studio recordings can thank an amalgam of various microphones for its sound. Certain microphones sound best recording electric guitar, others are best for vocals and then others are best when placed in front of a bass drum. Even still, there are no rules and it all comes down to what sound you want and ultimately what sounds best. So having someone like Jason is priceless when going into the studio to record. The man has countless hours of experience with this gear and he knows the sweet spots in the room, he knows what to expect from each of his studio’s microphones and where to place them. Just from my experience alone, it would be a huge relief to simply focus on how you want something to sound and let someone like Jason do the rest.

A musicians toy chest! Many tools adorn the inside of this Craftsman cabinet.
Sonic Farm 2DI4 Pentode Direct Box, the DI choice of Sting! De doo doo doo…
Another tool chest, but this one is all mics!

Next I got a little tour of Jason’s custom drum kit and the various snares he keeps on hand along with the guitar amps and the oh-so-rad pinball machine. Sure, it takes up valuable real estate but inspiration is priceless and who doesn’t love pinball?! And finally one of the coolest features at Wheelhouse is the monitor system for musicians, the Behringer Powerplay 16 personal mixers. Each one of these little portable mixers can connect to any one of the ethernet outlets throughout the studio and it serves as a 16-channel headphone monitor. This way no matter where you are in the recording room you can plug one of these into the wall, plug in your headphones and then personally control the mix coming into your headphones! Even the most unserious home demo hack (me) can see how this would help immensely when recording, especially in an ensemble scenario.

One of the many microphones The Wheelhouse Studio offers for their clients.

The Wheelhouse Studio provides a professional recording experience for anyone from the hobbyist songwriter all the way up through the touring pros. From the modern construction of the rooms to the high-end professional recording gear and instruments, Wheelhouse is a turnkey service ready to put your dreams to tape. And with all this at only $30 per hour, recording at The Wheelhouse Studio is within any musician’s budget. So hit Jason up and see about booking him for your next project! You won’t regret it.

The Behringer Powerplay 16 personal mixers offer a personalized mix for everyone in the room.
Mics hang overhead of the drum kit, two of many positioned around the drums and the room.
Wheelhouse offers a high end custom drum kit and a multitude of snare options.
Jason at the wheel in the control room of The Wheelhouse Studio.