NY METRO REPORT

Jan 1, 1999 12:00 PM, Gary Eskow

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Mix Regional

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Quad Recording has been a fixture on the New York scene for 22 years. When Lou Gonzales first opened the facility (to record a Sesame Street album-he engineered and contributed kazoo parts), the business climate in the Apple was far different from what it is today. In particular, decisions regarding console installation involved a wholly distinct set of parameters. Studios tended to build their own boards, and the freelance engineering business was not a factor. "Engineers had to learn how to use one particular board or design concept," Gonzales says, "and it wasn't so easy for them to hop between studios."

The standardization of consoles by SSL, Neve and others has changed things dramatically. Now Gonzales is taking the next step, having signed a deal with SSL that will make Quad's Studio B the first room in the country to offer an Axiom-MT. The stakes are high-if you'd like a fully loaded Axiom-MT, be prepared to shake your jeans to the tune of almost a million bucks. Although his decision to purchase the new board puts him in uncharted waters, Gonzales was relaxed and amiable the day we met.

Gonzales has been studying the digital console market for several years, and he believes that one of the Axiom-MT's design features sets it apart from the competition and will allow Quad to book Studio B enough to turn the board into a money maker. "The big hoopla about this board is its resettability," Gonzales says. "The console lets a mixer segue between different songs effortlessly. Let's say you're mixing song B and the producer walks in wanting to hear song A. In today's world you'd have to spend an hour-and-a-half to bring that song online, and then you'd eventually have to spend the same amount of time putting song B back to the point where you left it. With the Axiom-MT, all you have to do is execute a few keystrokes and either tune is exactly where you left it. That's a big advantage for album work-there will be no more staring at a monitor and matching EQs. This instant recall is the feature that sets the Axiom-MT apart from every other digital console on the market, and believe me, I researched them all."

Quad is known for its work in the hip hop and contemporary R&B fields, and Gonzales confirmed that engineers working these styles are particularly adventurous. "They want to get their hands on as many tricks as they can," he says, "and I'm sure that this board will attract hip hop artists and engineers to Quad." Gonzales adds that Quad is also attracting more rock sessions, and he plans on building up that area of the business as well.

The Axiom-MT is a 96-channel surround sound-ready board. Every control is dynamically automated, and there are 48 multitrack, 12 main mix and 12 aux buses, as well as over 200 mix returns. Gonzales also stresses the fact that Quad currently owns a pair of SSL 9000 J consoles, which will interface neatly with the Axiom-MT. The new console will keep Quad several steps ahead of the project studio environment, to say the least.

Suffern, N.Y, is a funky town-I can say that 'cause I went to high school there and played for coach Jerry Magurno, just as Walt Weiss did after me. (Why Weiss made it to the big leagues instead of me remains a mystery.) Spyro Gyra's Jay Beckenstein liked Suffern enough that in 1982 he built himself a studio there-Bear Tracks-along with his partner, the late Rich Calandra. Business has grown steadily over the years, and today the studio handles a wide array of major label projects. When Mix checked in recently, Beckenstein was tracking his next album at Bear Tracks, with help from engineer Doug Oberkircher, who lives next door to the studio and has tracking facilities at his place as well.

Beckenstein brought in a horn section to play on the new album, and these backing parts were originally tracked to Oberkircher's ADAT rig. Bear Tracks general manager Phil Brennan says that Beckenstein and crew have extremely high standards regarding the sound on tape of horn performances; the ADAT recordings did not yield the sound they were looking for, and so it was on to plan B, which involved recutting the horn section to an Ensoniq PARIS digital recording system.

According to Brennan, everyone associated with the session was extremely pleased with the sonic quality of the PARIS recordings, as well as the ease of its operations. Brennan says that Bear Tracks will be making a decision regarding the purchase of a hard disk recording system in the near future. "The final contenders are PARIS and Pro Tools," he says. "PARIS has a lot of pluses-it sounds sumptuous and is very cost-effective. Pro Tools has the third-party plug-in market, and that continues to be attractive as well. Ensoniq claims that its relationship with third-party plug-in manufacturers is growing, and we hope that's the case. Jay really felt that PARIS captured the essence of what the horn section sounded like. As a business decision, I believe that a hard disk recording system is essential for any studio that wants to attract clients in the metropolitan area."

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