Founded with the goal of designing unique and creative tools
“Suddenly our little noise box was getting used on some pretty massive recordings including albums by The White Stripes, Depeche Mode and Muse.”
In 2007, recording engineers and friends, Thom Flowers and Ian MacGregor co-founded Standard Audio. Together, they’ve developed several pro audio products including the Level-Or and Stretch which have become recording studio staples and are used by top engineers and producers around the world.
While working on his Electrical Engineering degree at UC Santa Barbara, Ian MacGregor was working at Orange Whip Recording asa house engineer. This is where Ian and veteran producer and engineer Thom Flowers first started working together and the friendship began.
Ian would bring in DIY projects like mic presand compressors he had been working on and they would try them out in their sessions. At some point during that time, Ian started doing design work for pro audio manufacturers and would bring in products to test. At that time, there were only a handful of companies making new 500 series products. The two found the format interesting and felt that there was a lot of potential for non-traditional modules.
Thom Flowers was working on an album project in Los Angeles and the studio had an old Level-Loc PA limiter. Being a fan of TchadBlake, Thom put it on a room mic while tracking drums and there it was… that sound he had heard on those records but could never quite get with an 1176!
When he went back a few weeks later for more tracking, the Level-Loc was out for repair and was noticeably missing as part of the drum sound. Thom asked Ian if he thought it would be possible to build one as a 500 series unit. After Ian found some of the original schematics, he designed a new circuit based around the original FET limiter. The two then spent a considerable amount of time tweaking the circuit and comparing different components by ear.
Due to a wiring error, they discovered that driving the circuit harder than expected sounded incredible. They decided to include this as a selectable function, this eventually turned into Crunch mode. A faster Level mode compressor release time was also added. When it was all put together, they knew they had something that other engineers would find useful and began producing small runs. Standard Audio was born!
The initial batch of units was noticed by a handful of very talented engineer/producers including Joe Chiccarelli, Ben Hillier, Rob Schnapf, Billy Bush and Greg Wells. When word started spreading among this elite group, interest really picked up. Suddenly the Level-Or was getting used on some pretty massive recordings including albums by The White Stripes, Depeche Mode and Muse.
Drawn to the creative and technical aspects of the studio, Thom Flowers found himself making his living as an engineer, producer, mixer, composer and now running a pro audio company.
Into the 2000’s as a house engineer / producer at Santa Barbara, California’s Orangewhip Studios, Thom honed his skills while working with some of the area’s most successful bands, including Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Ataris, Lagwagon, Sugarcult, Summercamp and The Mad Caddies. In 2018, Thom Co-Produced Steve Perry‘s long awaited return album “Traces” on Fantasy Records.
Ian MacGregor is a man of many hats. In addition to co-owning Standard Audio, he’s an accomplished electrical engineer and provides design consulting for manufacturers in the pro audio industry.
When he’s not creating fantastic gear, Ian is working in the studio. The Grammy-winning engineer worked alongside legendary producer Greg Wells for almost a decade. Credits include artists like Katy Perry, The All-American Rejects, MIKA, Celine Dione and Twenty One Pilots.