On the Cover: 25th Street Recording
Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Tom Kenny
OPENING UP THE CONTROL ROOM
At the time construction started, Lichtenstein still hadn’t selected a monitoring system or a console. He was pretty set on the ATC 400s, and was finally sold following a listening test at EastWest Studios in L.A. He went for full-range surround monitoring, with a dual-sub.
As for the console, Lichtenstein says that while he was definitely going analog, API wasn’t even in the running until he visited Dan Zimbelman at the San Francisco AES in October 2010. Zimbelman invited him out to Nashville, where they spent some time on a Vision at MTSU, then headed over to Blackbird Studio D for a look at the 96-channel Legacy. The next day he booked the order for a 64-channel Vision.
“I checked out every major brand of console, new and reconditioned,” Lichtenstein says. “The light bulb sort of went off for me at the AES show. API is known for its sound, tracking through the mic pre’s—very punchy. Then it’s full surround for mixing, with all-discrete analog circuitry. No ICs in the circuit path. Plus, there are people who love their SSL or they love their Neve, but this was the only console where nobody has a negative opinion. Nobody.”
When it came time to begin amassing equipment, Lichtenstein turned to Stephen Jarvis, one of the best resources and consultants around, and he’s become something of a sounding board, business partner and mic supplier at 25th Street. Much of the gear came from a liquidation at Rumbo Recorders in Los Angeles, where he started picking up some of the classic vintage outboard gear that now dominates his racks. On the day of this interview, they were running the remote to an EMT 240 plate reverb. The Hammond B3 in the photo is Daryl Dragon’s—the Captain’s—very own from Rumbo.
The outboard racks are a Lichtenstein and Stearns special, something this writer has not seen before in countless studio visits over the years. They are angled and on wheels so they can be rolled out of the way, as they are on the cover, or pulled in lengthwise for the more traditional approach. “I never really understood the producer’s desk,” Lichtenstein says, “because it’s not ergonomic for the engineer to crouch down to make adjustments and turn away from the speakers. And it separates the room into two exclusive areas. This way, we can open it up for a more relaxed listening environment. Or we can seal it off if the engineer prefers.”
The API was installed in early July, and the last few months have involved testing and tweaking. Manzella came out the first week of September to listen and they ended up putting “maybe 1 dB of EQ in the monitors, which can be popped out if it seems to make a difference,” Lichtenstein says. “But we were 95 percent of the way there right when we turned everything on.”
Scott Bergstrom, a recent graduate of Peabody Conservatory’s master’s program in recording, has been hired as assistant engineer and has been central to shaking down the room with cue system testing, patchbay labeling and rack wiring. John Smart, who graduated from Ex’Pression in September, has also been brought onboard. They all love the sound of rock drums in the big space (local artists Let Fall the Sparrow), and they had Mark Wilshire in engineering the Cypress String Quartet; he gave a ringing endorsement, which bodes well for some of the scoring work they hope to pick up.
The goals are lofty but completely realistic in and around 25th Street these days, with an eye on the local community and plans to reach out to artists and engineers across the country. “I’ve grown to believe over the years that a great-sounding room can accommodate all genres of music,” Manzella concludes. “Rock, pop, indie, jazz, classical, hip-hop. You may have to adjust a few things, but the room still functions as a room. And this is a great-sounding room.”
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