New Stoughton Studio

Barn Jazz Studio has relocated to Stoughton, Wisconsin and is up and ready for business. We specialize in mixing and demo mastering for your audio projects.

Less Than Nobody

New track supporting my wife, Lynn’s, upcoming novel “Measured Time – The Traveler”. In the story a Viet Nam veteran returns to states, only to find himself grappling with fitting in, finding love, and ending up in a “lonely cafe” they call “All Ground Up”. In fact this is about a movie within a story, the movie made in the 1970’s, called “Less Than Nobody”. So maybe someday we can make a movie with this as part of the soundtrack, a movie about a movie with a soundtrack in a book. Whew!

Rivers of the Land CD

Rivers of the Land CD Cover
Rivers of the Land CD Cover

Latest from Diamond Jim. Meander down the rivers of the world, your companion, original instrumental electronica and acoustic music. Find yourself relaxing, meditating and imagining.

This is the second release in the “Rivers” series, following up on Rivers of the Sky. You can buy the album or listen to selected tracks here:

Here is a review from one of my long-time fans, Dawn Weiss of Oracle, Arizona.

“I have loved Jim Hewitt’s music since the first time I heard him play in person almost two decades ago.  Each time he has released a new CD, I have marveled about how he can top the one before. His newest CD, “Rivers of the Land” is truly  no exception, and is my favorite one yet.  From “Riverland” to “Fishin Blues”, each track takes me on a journey of audible delights.  The variety of music on this album ranges from rhythms that make me want to dance to those that bring introspection and relaxation. My personal favorites are “River of the Ibis,”  “Mist” and “Los Alamos-the Cottonwoods” as they are so peacefully enchanting.” (Email)

Maffetone Revisited

Singer-songwriter Phil Maffetone, former physician to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and an artist with whom I have worked in the past (Livin’ on a Dead End Road, recorded in Oracle Arizona) asked me to remaster some of his on-line offerings. I recently completed work on The Best of Phil Maffetone, and now I am working on songs from his Nashville Bootleg, released in 2012. The process I used for remastering was different from the way I normally work.

This was an unusual request because he asked me to work with mp3’s downloaded from his website, I prefer to work with original or mastered .wav files, however they were not available, being the work of various other mastering engineers, including some high caliber folks.

The one exception was Wizard Shoes, one of my favorite Phil songs. Since no one had touched it since we originally recorded it (back in, 2008, I believe it was), I was able to work with the original 24-bit .wav file, because I keep everything that I have worked on in my archives. After running it through my great analog chain, which includes a Rupert Neve Designs Master Bus processor and A-Designs Hammer EQ, the song ended up sounding better than ever.

But back to those mp3’s… Originally, I balked at the idea of using mp3’s in a mastering context, and if you know anything about the biases of mastering engineers, this is not considered a best practice. Fortunately, the songs were well recorded, and then encoded at the highest bit rate available, 384 KBPS. The results sounded very good. Since Phil is located on the east coast these days, I used my Dropbox account to send him previews. That was made easier by the smaller size of the mp3’s.

You might ask, why bother? Weren’t they already mastered? Well these songs were all recorded over a period of several years. They were all over the place in terms of average level, varying from about -14 dB (average RMS) to some really smashed rocking numbers, at around -6 dB. Some sounded better than others, but there was no consistency. The task at hand was to make them all sound good but at more or less the same average RMS level, so that they could be downloaded as a set. Given that some were very loud, and Phil’s fans seemed to like them that way, I decided on a target level of around -12 dB, similar to many pop tunes.

I ran the songs through my high-quality analog chain, after doing some level processing in Wavelab, and then reencoded to mp3 format at 384 KBPS as the final step. The results still sounded great, but more cohesive as a set of songs, and Phil agreed.

So, for me the lesson was to put aside my biases, and get creative. There are always ways to make the music sound better, provided you have the right gear and know-how.

New Rivers of the Land CD nearing completion

I have a new CD project, Rivers of the Land, that is not quite ready for duplication, but I have put up a couple of track samples below, One-Eyed Riverboat Gambler and  River of the Ibis. This 8 month effort incorporates a mix of electronica and acoustic music for meditation, relaxation, and just plain enjoyment. Imagine yourself on a river cruise in the jungles of Central America, taking a ride on the Ibis steamer, while the sounds of the river life stream past. Its about imagination, feeling, taking a trip in your mind to other places and times. At least that is how I approach these tunes. I hope you will take the time to enjoy them.

The CD should be available for purchase on CD Baby after the first of the year, in 2019, in the meantime take a listen and look out for that bird cry near the end of Ibis. Its an actual field recording. More on that later.

Hidden Gems in Hidden Canyon

Just completed a new CD for Grand Junction singer/songwriter Tammie Martin, titled Hidden Canyon (samples below). Tammie’s original songs are evocative of the mysterious expanses and loneliness of the red canyon country around Moab and points east and west.

Her vocal style transports me to the backwoods of Kentucky or West Virginia, delivered fresh and uninhibited, while the live in the studio instrumentation is strictly down home, laid back bluegrass. The songs are backed up by local players Bob Eakle (mandolin and dobro), Lisa Eakle (banjo), with Jessica Cooper on violin, and yours truly adding some overdubs on fiddle, viola, mandola, harmonica, and electric bass.

The basic tracks were recorded by live sound engineer, Chris Bollman, at the unique public recording studio located in the Mesa County Public Library in Junction. I was pleased to be able to mix and master the tracks and produce the final CD. Hidden Canyon is available directly from Tammie, but if you are unable to catch her performances in the area, you can contact Barn Jazz and we can arrange for you to get a copy.

Back in the saddle

Our new studio in Littleton, CO is up and running and ready for recording projects, mixing, and demo mastering. More to come.

Barn Jazz Vol. 3 Released

Just in time for the holidays, my latest CD project, Barn Jazz Vol. 3, “High Fiddility”, is now available for purchase on CD Baby. You can buy individual tunes or the entire album, as well as audition clips of each of the tracks.
This collection of original fiddle tunes and songs completes the Barn Jazz trilogy, which began back in 2001 in my original Oracle, Arizona studio. Given the recent political seismic shift, think of this as a metaphorical “high” to help put it all aside while we endure the next 4 years. The photos were taken at over 11,000 feet at Boreas Pass, near Breckinridge, Colorado.

Album Notes

I believe music, particularly instrumental music, should be all about imagery and imagination. High Fiddility is a collection of mostly original instrumental tunes and a few quirky songs guaranteed to take you into the highlands of your imagination. This is the third in the “Barn Jazz” series of albums, beginning with Barn Jazz Vol. 1, in 2003, Barn Jazz Vol. 2, The Night of the Dancing Vegetables in 2012, and finally Vol. 3, High Fiddility.

“Barn Jazz” is my term for bluegrass in a tuxedo, or jazz in hip boots played at night when the cows have gone to bed. In essence this music knows no firm boundaries, has no walls, and requires only that you listen again and again for the details, for the sounds of the crossing the high country, or marching along the Grand Valley canals of Grand Junction. You may remember lost friends like Banjo Joe, and others who are no longer with you, while you wonder where they have gone. Maybe you had a first waltz, when you awkwardly held that young lady or gentleman, or shuffled off to the stars in sidereal time. Please enjoy this music when you work, when you play or travel, or when the lights are down low and the music is turned up. Please let me know what you think, I am always curious to find out if any of these tunes touch you in certain ways.

New Directions

Barn Jazz has relocated to Littleton, Colorado. The wonderful studio space in Grand Junction has been decommissioned, while we are seeking better economic opportunities in the greater Denver area.
I am no longer accepting recording work for the near future, as I will be undertaking an intensive 5 month course in cybersecurity, beginning in mid-January. I will, however, be setting up a small composing and mixing studio in our new domicile, and will continue to accept small projects for mixing and post. I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of those wonderful musicians in the GJ area with whom I have had the privilege to work.

New Iso-Room Completed at Barn Jazz

After about 2 months work by myself and 2 local, talented workers, the isolation room is now finished. The area will serve as a drum room, vocal booth for voice-overs and singer-song writers, isolation for electric guitar cab recordings, etc.

The 9′ x 9′ x 8′ high room is (according to the experts) probably the worst shape you can have acoustically speaking (a cube), but with some good treatment from GIK and ATS, the sound inside is what I would describe as “neutral” for vocal and instrument work.  It is not overly dead, nor is it reverberant. Hopefully it will sound good as a drum room as well.

IsoBoothFinal1 IsoBoothFinalOutside
The acoustic treatment consists of four GIK tri-traps (bass traps) in the back corners, four ATS 2″ rigid rock wool panels, 2′ x 4′, on the back and side walls, and an additional GIK 2′  x 4′ x  2″ panel (white) on the right side wall. The ceiling has a 5′ x 5′ cloud of  1′ Auralex foam wedges, fastened using 2 tubes of Auralex adhesive.

The area was originally a corner alcove that was open on one side. The left and rear interior walls back up to the house stem walls (as this is in a walkout basement), and the right wall is adjacent to the bathroom.  We added a layer of 5/8″ Soundbreak board over the existing drywall to all three walls and the ceiling, using RC-1 resilient channel and soundproofing foam tape from to provide a buffer and air gap between the new and existing drywall.

A new front wall was constructed for the window, door, and patch panel, using wood frame and Soundbreak on both the interior and exterior of the frame, with sound proofing foam tape between the drywall and wood.  We used 2″ rock wool fiberglass from Home Depot for insulation. Mike Miller constructed the wall and put up the drywall.

Soundbreak is very heavy gypsum board that is used as a replacement for standard drywall for sound studios, apartments, etc. It weighs about 86 lbs. per sheet, and is quite expensive ($70.00). It has an excellent STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating of 53 – 60 when installed over both sides of a wood frame. We obtained this material, along with oodles of sound-proofing caulk, from a local Grand Junction vendor, Pioneer Materials.   The floor is simple utility carpet and pad from Home Depot, over vinyl and concrete.

The window consists of two panes of laminated glass, one 1/4″, and one 3/8″, set into a shallow V-shape, with about a 3/4″ to 1″ air gap between them. We used Rod Gervais’ book, “Home Recording Studio – Build It Like The Pros” for guidance on door and window construction.

The door itself is a very heavy solid core, 1 and 3/4″ thick, from Home Depot, with a door seal kit and threshold drop seal from Acoustical Solutions. Ron Standing made the window, built the door jamb, and installed the door and sealing kit. Because of the precise specifications needed for sound attenuation, this was a lengthy process covering several weeks.When the door is closed, the drop seal falls into place to seal the threshold and door bottom so that sound cannot leak under the door. The door jamb has rubber seal material attached to an aluminum backing. You know its pretty air tight when you close the door because you can hear the air squeezing out. It takes a bit of effort to close the door, which is good.

The patch panel is a through-the-wall set of jacks for 8 XLR microphone input/outputs and 4 TRS line input/outputs mounted in a black metal panel. I obtained the custom built and labeled panels from, and then made a wood mounting box. I soldered up each side of the panel to their respective jacks, requiring 72 connections. I am really glad I had the proper tools for this (hint: resistance soldering station).The edges of the box were sealed with acoustic caulk, and the box interior stuffed with rock wool fiberglass insulation. Ron had special metal trim plates made locally for both sides of the box, to help hold it in place and provide a nice border. He then cut a hole next to the door and attached the box to a stud, and sealed the edges.

The total cost of construction was about $7200, with $4470 for materials and $2730 for labor, spread out over 2 primary work men (Mike Miller and Ron Standing), as well as two assistants and a carpet person. In addition to being the general contractor, I built the patch panel and did all of the painting (the easy stuff!).

Given that a similar-sized pre-fab isolation booth from can cost from $10,000 to $20,000 plus shipping, this is a pretty good cost savings. The only thing missing is ventilation. Smaller booths require this, but given that the talent will be recording for short durations for the most part, the door does not have to remain closed for more than 15 or 20 minutes. Adding a vent system similar to that found in the design still may happen, but I did not want to risk compromising the sound isolation unless absolutely necessary.

The iso-room will help cut down on street and aircraft noise, which occasionally is an issue here. There is no such thing as “sound-proofing”, but with the ability to attenuate sudden rumbles or loud jet noises will improve our recordings and cut down on re-takes.

Next up, I will be doing some SPL measurements inside and outside of the booth to chart just how well we are doing at sound attenuation.