Jun 1, 2001 12:00 PM, by Dan Daley


Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

Nashville is rapidly becoming a Pro Tools town. Few major conventional facilities can get by without at least a basic system in house, and the number of large systems in personal use is ballooning. That's prompting some fundamental changes in the studios business here, as well as creating a host of new opportunities.

The infusion of Pro Tools has inspired studio JamSync, one of the city's earliest PT champions, to offer Pro Tools data transfers to various other formats — including 24-track analog and MDM formats — as a stand-alone service.

“It's funny. Transfers were something that we always just did as part of a Pro Tools project,” notes K.K. Proffitt, chief engineer and co-owner, with her husband Joel Silverman, of the three-year-old studio, whose core business has been digital audio for corporate and special-interest video. “But more and more people began to come in and needed to have their audio transferred to Pro Tools, to the point where it made sense to offer it as a service.”

Proffitt — who stresses that she has been working in Pro Tools for a decade, long before it surfaced in the Nashville market and when it was often derided as sonically inferior — adds that where the transfer business clientele is coming from is also interesting. “It's from studios that I've never heard of,” she says. “A lot of home studios, personal studios, project studios; ones that had invested in ADAT or DA-88 as their main format. Now they're coming to transfer to Pro Tools so they can go and edit, tweak and mix.”

(JamSync also added another New Economy-type service this year: doing “upmixes” — creating a multichannel audio master from a stereo one using phase, EQ and other techniques to extract and isolate audio elements — and then authoring them to DVD-R discs, which serve essentially as previews for record labels considering catalog reissues in a multichannel format.)

If the Pro Tools phenomenon seems to be hitting Nashville a bit late, compared to New York, L.A. and Miami, then it's worth remembering that Nashville's studio community was the first as a group to significantly embrace digital audio in the late 1980s, particularly the Pro-Digi 32-track format, and later the 48-track DASH format. There was a time, in the early 1990s, when Nashville had more digital multitracks than either New York or Los Angeles. The major difference is that this technological round of renewal is coming from the bottom up, not from on-high at the city's major facilities. Milan Bogdan, general manager at East Iris, agrees. “Studios at this level in Nashville adding Pro Tools have been driven by demand from beneath, definitely,” he says. “It's not the [major] studios that are driving it this time. This time, the studios are reacting to a trend. But that's the way it's supposed to work. There's certainly no shortage of Pro Tools sessions; the session we're doing now with John Hiatt is the only 24-track analog session we've done since November.”

Predictably, Pro Tools proliferation has drawn considerable responses from major facilities. In March, Sound Stage opened its Drive-Thru studio, centered on a large Pro Tools systems with a 40-fader Pro Control. “It's definitely in response to client demand,” says studio manager Michael Koreiba. “But our approach is that everyone using Pro Tools on their own has certain limits. We see that as clients come in because their drives are completely full. We say, when you've maxed out your system, come in here and let us take it from there.”

Jim Stelluto, partner in Entropy Recording, watched his business go from recording band practice at rehearsal facility Soundcheck to becoming a full-blown, Pro Tools-based tracking facility using Soundcheck's 80×40 room. “Now there's so much Pro Tools in Nashville that you have to have something — in our case, the large tracking room — that differentiates one Pro Tools studio from another,” he observes.

The project studio was slow to arrive in Nashville, but now that it's here, it's proliferating at a very rapid rate. And, in the process, it's creating an ad hoc new audio infrastructure in Nashville: more personal/project studios based on hard disk recording and more conventional studios adding technologies and services to support them the minute the bedroom or garage door opens.

In other news, noted Nashville studio designer Steve Durr has merged his firm, Steven Durr & Associates, with A/V project management and installation company Broadcast Marketing Associates. The new entity is called Durrell, and its newly combined capabilities will broaden both its customer base and its range of competencies, Durr says.

Coda: A wag once described the U.S. and England as similar cultures separated by a common language. Nashville and Austin, Texas, have had the same sort of relationship; the fence they share being country music. So here's a little gem on that topic I ran across. Take it for what it's worth. From Brett Sokol's report in the Miami New Times on the South by Southwest music conference in Austin last March: “…Austin itself has become something of an exiled Grand Ole Opry, maintaining the same tortured love-hate relationship with Nashville that Miami's Cuban exiles enjoy with Havana: a longing to return to what's seen as their cultural wellspring, mixed with a loathing for a regime viewed as illegitimate usurpers.”

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