Audio Engineering, Mixing & Mastering

Popworks Music

San Rafael, CA

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About Popworks Music

I offer audio engineering, mixing and mastering. Currently, I am a TRI Studios staff engineer and personal engineer to Bob Weir. My career has taken me in every genre of music, and led me to very talented and intriguing artists. Spending most of my days in the Bay Area, I've worked primarily in studios in Northern California. During the course of 10 years, I've built a strong understanding in capturing sound and mixing. Editing, tuning and programming within Pro Tools is where I excel over others.

I've learned to work faster due to budgets, and yet, maintain my goal to capture something myself, and the clients are happy. I stay true to the analog world and pass signal through tape, if I can. The many projects that I've obtained have been to recreate old recordings or match certain records, and I feel I have an ear for that.

During my career, I've had the privilege to work with Santana, Lauryn Hill, Journey and Sammy Haggar, and more recently, Jonathan Wilson, Lukas Nelson, Jackie Greene and Pete Townshend. Out of the studio, I work for Sweetwater Music Hall Venue in Mill Valley, CA. Here, I'm a broadcast mixer for live streams of the performance. Over all of these, I feel I'm a very approachable, fun and an easygoing engineer.

Location

San Rafael, CA 94901

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Reviews

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  • 5/5 stars February 7, 2013

    Rick is the fastest, most thorough and laid back engineer I've ever worked with. I've made two records with Rick, "New Monsoon V" w my band New Monsoon and another record called "Which Way World" with a band called The Contribution and both records are in my opinion perfectly recorded and mixed. If you need the best, Rick Vargas is the man for the job.

  • 5/5 stars February 7, 2013

    What work was performed? How long did it last?
    Rick ran the video room/was the lead video engineer for our recent Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers show at the Sweetwater Music Hall. We streamed the show live through our website. The event ran from about 8-12pm.

    What impressed you about the service? What qualities about the service professional stood out?
    Rick is great. He's been a huge source of information about all things video/streaming and his actual work in the room was great, creating a pretty much perfect stream. He's also very easy to work with, easy going and gracious.

    What would have improved your experience? What would you like to see the service professional do in the future?
    I really have nothing negative to say, and i wouldn't even be able to make a suggestion. I look forward to working with Rick again soon and have dates on the books to do so.

  • 5/5 stars February 7, 2013

    Rick is a real pleasure to work with. I am producing a CD at TRI and Rick's engineering and mixing skills are stellar, and he always has some very astute suggestions to improve the sessions. I can always trust Rick's high sonic standards and willingness to operate outside the box!

  • 5/5 stars February 7, 2013

    Our band, MerryGold, won a contest to record with Rick at TRI Studios for a day. Thanks to his talent, efficiency, and professionalism, we were able to make the most of our time there and accomplish our goals. It was a pleasure working with him and we hope it won't be the last time we do! Top class!

  • 5/5 stars February 6, 2013

    I have been working with Rick tracking vocals, electic and acoustic guitars for some original music I composed. My experience has been outstanding. Ricks technical abilities, knowledge are first rate and he has an incredible ear. If you are looking for an outstanding product, I would highly recommend Rick and Popworks Music.

  • 5/5 stars February 6, 2013

    Excellent Engineer and Producer has a great understanding of music theory. I've been working with Rick for years and having some one so talented behind the board really makes my job easier as an artist.

  • 5/5 stars February 6, 2013

    I have spent the past two years recording an epic 4 hr jazz opera with Rick Vargas. Throughout the process, he has been the model recording engineer. He is at once calm and easy going, yet also inspired and focused. He offers consistently helpful feedback but only when you request it and always in a way that makes you feel safe and supported. His musical ear is as strong as his technical prowess. He is patient, smart as hell, and in short great at what he does. He is by far the best engineer I have worked with.

News feed

  • Mixing to film.
    Feb 05, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Question and answer

Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.

A. Engineering and Mixing is my passion. I strive to achieve a sound my client is looking for. To replicate Motown classics or polished modern day recordings. The past few years I feel I have produced quality mixes and mastered albums. I've had the privilege to work with such artist as DJ Shadow, Santana, Bob Weir, Journey and Sammy Hagar. Other artist such as Jonathan Wilson, Jackie Greene and Lucas Nelson are current mixing projects

Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.

A. Recently I finished a EP for indie group Black Cobra Vipers. Mixed a live streamed production for Nicki Bluhm and currently recording and mixing a series for Bob Weir along with a secondary series for Pete Townshend.

Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A. Don't be afraid to ask what rates are. If I'm into the music I'll do what I can to make it work within your budget. I work with all types of genres and recordings. Voice Over, Audio Books and Motion Pictures.

Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

A. Mix preparation is essential. Editing time or pitch should be done before mixing. Working with a engineer not familiar or efficient in tuning or time correction can add up fast. Using a professional studio to mix and to master is essential and can not be duplicated in a home studio. Really need to save $ on mixes. Ask about running your finished "In the box mixes" through the console or tape to bring fullness and warmth back into the recording. Bringing a pro-tools session or working on the same format helps workflow.

Q. What do you like most about your job?

A. Listening to someones composition and story behind their music is a what I like most about my job. When a artist attaches their soul or experiences to their music it motivates me to put my entire effort into their project. I try not to make this just a job but be apart of their creation.

Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?

A. My whole life I've been a fan of listening to music. Coming from a family of technicians I also had a understanding of how mechanical and electrical things work. My fascination of recording came from seeing old photos of the Beatles and Motown artist being recorded. My grandfather obsessed over classical music and composed small pieces in his spare time. His passing was a final push into following my dreams as a producer engineer.

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