Atlanta's ZAC Digital Reopens Studio B For Session Bookings

Apr 9, 2009 2:37 PM


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photo of ZAC Digital Studio B

The first Neve Genesys console in North America was installed in ZAC Digital Studio B.

This year, ZAC Digital, one of the Southeast’s leading multi-room recording facilities nearing the end of its first decade in business, purchased the first Neve Genesys console in North America, which was installed in Studio B in February (for more on the Neve Genesys installation, read "Atlanta's Zac Recording Installs Neve Genesys Console"). An early proponent of Digidesign’s Pro Control desk, ZAC Digital founder and president Jim Zumpano wanted an analog solution for the smaller-sized Studio B. “What some people would regard as small, we looked at as intimate, and the clients who used the have room definitely agreed,” he says.

While the studio was successful, Zumpano saw more potential there. After a three-year search, long-time colleague and friend Dave Malekpour, at Professional Audio Design in Boston, introduced him to Neve’s newly launched Genesys digitally controlled analog console. With its 24 88RS-style preamplifiers and expandability, “It was just the right combination of high quality analog circuitry and digital functionality,” he says.

Zumpano also added Augspurger single-15-inch-loaded main monitors in soffits above the console, augmented by BBI subwoofers. “Augspurger monitors are associated with large rooms, but with the single-15s they can be scaled to fit a space like Studio B. This combination of the new Genesys and the monitoring system has made Studio B into a powerhouse room—it pumps like nobody’s business, which really fits with the bottom-heavy music we do these days,” including artists such as Fergie, Snoop Dog and R Kelly.

In 2006, a writer renting one of the studio’s composing suites introduced producer Polow Da Don to ZAC Digital. Polow—who was quickly becoming known for his work with artists like Chris Brown, Ludacris, Ciara, Nelly and Pussycat Dolls—found a comfortable, creative home at Zac Digital. He also earned the interest of renowned producer and Interscope label chief Jimmy Iovine, who sought to negotiate a multi-year lockout of three of the facility’s studios for Polow. “That was a tough decision,” Zumpano says. “You have to feel honored when people like Polow and Jimmy choose you to be the home for their creative venture, but from a business point of view, you’re also taking part of your studio off the market for an extended period.”

Zumpano hedged that risk by configuring the deal as a one-year lockout with mutually agreed extensions in one-year increments. “That gave Polow the peace of mind he needed to further develop his talents and his artists, it gave Jimmy the assurance he wanted that Polow would have uninterrupted space, and gave the studio flexibility to manage our existing clientele. It worked out fabulously for everyone.”

With the end of the second year of the lockout at an end, and with Studio B newly contributing to ZAC Digital’s array of five distinct studio spaces, Zumpano is planning the next round of strategy. He recalls his time as manager for L.A. Reid’s legendary Atlanta studio, La Coco, where careers for artists including Usher, Toni Braxton, OutKast and TLC bloomed, and where Zumpano learned the workings of the recording and music business from the source.

“L.A. really brought the West Coast level of the business to Atlanta,” Zumpano says. “It gave me perspective that you couldn’t get any other way. That and the kind of supportive relationships we’ve built up over the years with people like Dave Malekpour, Neve and Polow makes me quite confident that we’re going to be able to continue to be the independent home base for Atlanta’s thriving music community for another decade—and then some.”

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