Out of the Ordinary with Nicholas Benik
Producer/Audio Engineer, Frontline Sound
While actively writing for, producing, and performing in numerous bands for eight years, Frontline Sound owner Nick Benik began pursuing and learning about a career in the recording arts. Primarily a percussionist, Nick developed a knack for production doing studio drum work and digital audio editing for producer Aaron Accetta (Brooke Hogan, Aaron Carter) on projects for artists such as James Garfunkel, Forever the Sickest Kids, and Tiffany Giardina. In the fall of 2009, he attended SAE Institute in New York City earning his Audio Engineering degree and graduated at the top of his class. Shortly after deciding to relocate back to his hometown of Melbourne, Nick began Frontline Sound.
Is there any certification or training necessary?
Not necessarily. There have been plenty of very successful producers and engineers who apprenticed under other successful guys and learned everything they needed to know that way, without ever completing a certification program at an institute. However, as with most career paths, it’s more about who you know than what you know and it’s not easy to know those guys. I knew I could only reach a certain level by teaching myself and decided that to do this professionally and be taken seriously I would need further education.
What inspired you to go into this field?
I would say my main inspiration originally was just having fun being in a band with my friends and writing/recording crappy demos in my bedroom. My obsession with sound slowly but surely overtook my obsession with performing onstage and that has led me to where I am now.
How did you get started?
I have been in bands since high school, and for every band the next step after getting a few songs together is usually getting into a studio and recording. I was never satisfied with how our product sounded so I vowed that I would somehow figure out how to make our band’s recording sound like our favorite bands’ recordings. It all started with a couple of cheap mics, low-end recording software and a lot of experimentation. After I graduated audio engineering school I moved back to Melbourne, worked two jobs to save up enough money to buy some equipment and built a small studio in Satellite Beach.
How long have you lived in Brevard?
I have lived in Brevard for about 12 years now.
Where did you go to high school?
I graduated from Eau Gallie High.
I have an AA degree from Brevard Community College and an Audio Engineering diploma from SAE Institute New York.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
There are quite a few, but the biggest would probably be the idea that expensive equipment automatically equals a great product. Don’t get me wrong, you get what you pay for when it comes to recording equipment but it’s way more about knowing how to use what you have. Obviously the best case scenario for a band would be working with someone who has the best equipment and knows what they’re doing, but more often than not people will go with the guy that has a couple of $3,000 mics only to come away with something that sounds like they recorded with a tin can because the engineer didn’t know how to utilize his equipment properly.
What kind of music is on your iPod?
My library ranges from punk rock to jazz to hip hop. If you stole my iPod you would see artists like Michael Buble, Miley Cyrus, Jimmy Eat World, Jay Z, Foster the People, Yellowcard, AFI, Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and the list goes on. I listen to anything with a good song as I am a sucker for pop music and catchy hooks.
Can you briefly explain the process?
A band or artist contacts me about recording. From there I will either come see a live show, attend a rehearsal or have them meet me at my studio so I can get an idea of the project and what I’ll be dealing with, and whether or not I’ll be just engineering or be involved in production/songwriting as well. Once we decide on dates, I usually have the drummer record all of his parts, then it’s either bass or guitar (I’m not picky about which goes first). Vocals come last with the exception of things like guitar leads to make sure they fit around the vocal. After everything is recorded I edit, mix and master, which is the final step before the product goes to press.
What type of tools do you use?
The short list would be drums, bass, guitars, microphones, pre amps, a laptop with software and plug-ins, monitors, and headphones.
What do you enjoy the most?
By far the most rewarding part is seeing the client’s face when they hear a final mix of their music.
What’s the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is and will probably always be figuring out how to find a balance between what the artist wants and what I know needs to happen in the studio to achieve that goal, because the two don’t always tend to line up.