New York Metro, March 2010

Mar 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By David Weiss


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.

Studio co-owner Randy Crafton in Kaleidoscope's remodeled control room

Studio co-owner Randy Crafton in Kaleidoscope's remodeled control room "A"

For every studio that has its grand opening, sticks with it for a few years or more, maybe even hangs a few Platinum records on the wall, there's plenty to be proud of — and then there's the eventual need to gut everything and start all over again.

As the last quarter of 2009 rolled around, the owners of Kaleidoscope Sound ( in Union City, N.J., knew their time for a renovation was at hand. Although founders Randy and Amy Crafton had built up a strong local following and a steady stream of business since opening the two-room facility in 2001, with a client list that includes Richie Havens, Bill Frisell, Mingus Big Band and others, the studio was starting to look and feel long in the tooth.

Spacious Control Room A was dominated by a home-brewed, API-flavored “Frankenconsole” that doubled as a producer's desk and faced away from the action in the live room. Studio B was decently equipped, but lacked the necessary trappings to stand in for world-class mix duties when Studio A was booked. “The old control room was not a traditional setup,” Randy Crafton explains. “Established guys' basic take would be, ‘Great gear, great room, but it's too weird for me to wrap my head around.’”

Knowing that it was time to update Kaleidoscope, and also aware that a change in tax law would make acquiring a large-format console more advantageous in 2009 than 2010 or later, Crafton and his dedicated crew began the project in earnest in October. The goal: minimize mistakes, down time and cost overruns as much as possible, and emerge with a studio that would be more inviting and acoustically precise.

Step One: Bring In the Pros

The Kaleidoscope crew looked to the experience of architect Fran Manzella ( to get things started — and finished — on the right foot. “I've done it with a consultant, and I've done it without; it's a lot better with!” Crafton says with a laugh. “The fact that he's done it hundreds of times is important. It's the same as someone coming in to record: They do it once a year, but we do it every day.

“Fran listened to what we asked for, he didn't expand the scope — he got it. The project started with Fran, but the same staff that helps us with the running of the studio helped us with the renovation: We have a really good staff and our roles are well-defined.”

Step Two: Keep Ahead

Throughout the renovation, studio manager Carey Neal held weekly meetings with contractor John Ambrosi of Ambrosi Construction Inc., determined at all times to ensure that work crews, as well as expert craftsmen like carpenter Jeff Baker, always had the necessary materials waiting for them.

“It's essential to keep the supplies ahead of the demand because that's where the construction [schedule] really falls apart,” Neal says. “If the contractor shows up ready to start installing the insulation, and it's not there, boom! You're a week down. We ordered everything at least a week in advance because there's the assumption that everything won't be readily available.”

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