May 1, 2001 12:00 PM, 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.

Spring has sprung again in Nashville, bringing with it a few new studio developments. Here, you can see the ongoing trends in the industry: New studio start-ups are increasingly predicated on computer-/software-based technology platforms — as opposed to the heavy machinery of analog consoles and machines — and on the pursuit of niche business.

Soundstation Studios and Franklin Mastering are part of a complex of independently owned facilities linked to a new contemporary Christian record label created as a joint venture with Zomba. (At press time, the label name was still being formulated.) Although the recording studio and the mastering facility are independently owned, each owner realized the potential benefit of huddling the facilities together in the same building with the label. “Projects are getting channeled from the record labels — there's another one close by called Inpop — to the studio and the mastering studio,” says Franklin Mastering owner and chief engineer Jeff Baggett. “They're not the only sources of business for the studios, but it's nice to have them as kind of anchors for the businesses.”

Both Soundstation and Franklin Mastering are built around the upper end of the mass-market digital technology revolution. Soundstation, owned by Paul Wright, features a 64-channel Pro Tools 24|MIXplus with a 32-fader Pro Control, RADAR II, ADATs and DA-78s. Franklin Mastering is based on a SADiE system, with other gear such as Z-Systems z-Q2 digital mastering EQ, Waves L2 limiting, Apogee PSX-100 with UV22 dithering and Z-systems routing.

“This is a whole new way to do things for this area,” says Baggett. “We're not targeting the country artists as intently as the studios on the Row do. There's a huge group of people here who make music that's not country, and they don't have the budgets that studios on the Row need.”

With mastering services going for about $125 per hour, and the studio for $750 to $1,000 a day, the technical infrastructure available is sophisticated, considering the budgets those artists have to work within.

“The Nashville studio infrastructure, as it is, can't address all the [economic] needs of the growing base of different types of music that are out here that major labels don't sign,” Baggett says. “They need more budget options than the traditional studio setup can give them.”

Another somewhat higher-toned niche is also being addressed in what will become Georgetown Masters' new 5.1 surround mastering suite. In February, owner and chief mastering engineer Denny Purcell began gutting the mini-movie theater he had in the studio's basement, and, with input from consultant Rick Loomis, he expects to have a dedicated 5.1 mastering studio up and running by the beginning of summer.

The design could be called minimalist: There will be no specific console, just whichever small analog or digital mixer Purcell feels is right for each job. Monitoring will be via Nova speakers and custom subs powered by Nelson Pass amplifiers.

Purcell won't discuss the costs associated with the new studio, but he did say that a slew of surround titles from Warner Records are already coming to his door, perhaps a sign that the major labels are beginning to turn their attention toward new releases and away from legal battles with online music companies and the huge mergers they've been going through.

“I hope so,” says Purcell, “because I think that DVD-Audio is the last chance for the professional audio business to present the consumer with quality, with an idea of how good music can sound. This [format] is the closest they're ever going to get to being in the same room with the artist while they're performing. It's that good. So it's worth the risk.”

School of Audio Engineering's Nashville location now has a new 5.1 surround classroom. The studio, equipped with Mackie-powered monitors and a Mackie 8-bus console, was built by Nashville-based Michael Cronin Acoustical Construction. The studio has one unique wrinkle: Cronin added a second pair of rear surrounds behind the first rank to widen the surround field for a class of 20-some students.

Cronin will also be building the classroom studios at SAE's next location, which is in North Miami, not far from the Hit Factory Criteria complex. The 30,000-square-foot building will be a departure from SAE president Tom Misner's otherwise boilerplate designs for the company's other 30-plus studio/schools. In Miami, three control rooms, equipped with an SSL G-plus, a Digidesign Pro Control and a console to be named later, will face on a large central recording area. It will also, Misner explained, be an aesthetic departure. “This is going to be much more of an up-market type of facility in terms of design,” he says. “It will be closer to Studio 301 [Misner's opulent flagship facility in Sydney, Australia].” The reason? “Miami is critical for developing our school in the South American market,” the always-candid Misner replied. “Down here, we want the glitz.”

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