A few years, ago Peterson Goodwyn of diyrecordingequipment.com was living in Milwaukee, WI, perhaps an unlikely place to pursue his dream of becoming a recording engineer.
Goodwyn and his fiancee had been bouncing from one post-college job to another, hoping to land some kind of meaningful and sustainable work. At a certain point, he says that “we kind of threw our hands up in the air,” and the two decided to move to Seoul, South Korea for a year and teach English.
Almost immediately, things changed.
In Korea, Goodwyn met other temporary expats, and discovered there were “thousands of people, like me, who all of a sudden had disposable income.” Luckily for Goodwyn, a good number of them got to thinking it might finally be time to make that record they were always talking about.
“I think I ended up recording something like 12 albums that year,” he says.
Discovering DIY Electronics
While in Korea, Goodwyn also began toying around with electronics in earnest.
His first venture into this world was with a DIY preamp kit by Hamptone. From there, he branched out, trawling the web for new kits and tutorials, and scouring through the open-air electronics markets that Seoul had to offer.
One of the things that disappointed him was how “dispersed and intimidating” all the available information could be. Taking a cue from some of the online open-source communities he loved, Goodwyn began creating a free, comprehensive database of the most popular resources and tutorials available for DIY gear geeks.
“I wanted to bring them altogether in one place,” he says. “What are all the preamps that are out there? What are the compressor kits?
The website he launched, diyrecordingequipment.com, began with “no commercial aspirations.” Eventually, that would change too. Today, selling entry-level recording kits is Goodwyn’s primary source of income. (Although he still gives away most of what he does for free.)
From the Hobby to Job
One of the things that helps Peterson Goodwyn do his job, is that he brings with him the optimistic and self-effacing zeal of a die-hard hobbyist.
If you visit his website today, you’ll find that it is still predominantly a free online resource geared toward getting people excited about – and comfortable with – the idea of building their own recording equipment. It even provides links to other people’s kits and products than Goodwyn’s own. And to visit there is to feel that this whole new world of circuits and resistor values is something accessible.
“I guess I look into the camera and speak to beginners in a way that others don’t,” he says. “Because I still feel like a beginner.”
“One day in 2011 I thought “I know enough now – or at least I thought I did – to offer a re-amp kit. I kind of buried it on the website because I was very queasy about the whole idea of promoting myself or making any profit off of it. And then I got 5 orders, almost immediately. That was a revelation. I had bought enough parts for 3 kits, and I thought that would last a month.”
“Basically my job today is still a continuation of that: I choose a project I’d like to see offered in a beginner friendly way for a really good price; and get the information I need to complete that project.
“That’s pretty much the sum total of my electronics training. I mean, I have a broader base now. But I still come at it very much from the perspective of a musician and an engineer who dabbles in electronics.” That may be exactly what makes his site work.
More recently, Goodwyn has started developing a new project – a kind of ‘lunchbox-within-a-lunchbox’ called “Colour.”
“Sometimes we go to such great lengths to get that last 1% of color and tone,” he says, “harmonic distortion, transient shaping. You might run your signal out to a $15,000 preamp, that kind of thing. The idea here is to just focus on the parts of the circuit that impart that sound.”