Facilities

Mix Regional News: Los Angeles

Cody Westheimer working at his Subaru rig.

COMPOSER TURNS SUBARU INTO MOBILE RECORDING RIG

When composer Cody Westheimer wanted to untether from his home studio (New West Studios) in Los Angeles and record projects out in the field, he decided to build himself a mobile recording studio…in his Subaru. “The main idea behind the portable studio is it acts as a sketch machine—to get the nuts and bolts of a track or cue laid out,” Westheimer says. “But I’ve discovered it’s not a bad full-production machine! It’s built around a maxed-out iMac with SSDs, and the audio interface is an Apogee Duet. I use Focals for monitoring, and just bring old/cheap microphones with me on the road since I’m likely just recording for reference—think ‘wind noise.’ For guitar, though, I usually record direct, and the Duet is great for that.”

Westheimer powers his studio using a tiny generator, but he hopes to eventually get a lithium battery/solar solution going.

He says the iMac allows him to boot his whole template while he’s away from his rig. Both the mobile studio and his home studio are based around MOTU Digital Performer. “The studios needed to be fairly seamless from going from one to the other,” Westheimer says.

Back at his home studio, for mics, Westheimer favors the Audio-Technica AT 4060 with Millennia pre’s and the AEA R88 for anything stereo—either with Millennia or the AEA pre’s. “I run it through a dinosaur known as the Panasonic DA7,” he says. “I keep wanting to get rid of the monster console, but I am just in love with the AD/DA converters! I monitor through a JBL LSR 5.1 system and my custom-made—by me, designed by Jim Holtz—Statement Monitors. They’re really special speakers—I’ve never heard a clearer midrange. I use Digital Performer, Pro Tools and VEPro all on my Mac Pro. This is mostly duplicated in my wife’s [Julia Newmann] studio upstairs—she writes for the Fox show Bones.”

Recently, Westheimer scored the IMAX film Journey to Space, which premiered in Los Angeles in October. “I had the opportunity to conduct an orchestra under the Space Shuttle Endeavor!” Westheimer says. “That was a really spectacular experience.”

SPHERE STUDIOS GEARS UP FOR L.A. OPENING

After relocating last year from London to Los Angeles, Sphere Studios L.A. is poised to open its doors in February 2016. The former Kung-Fu Gardens in North Hollywood has undergone extensive upgrades and remodeling.

Owner/producer/multi-award-winning engineer Francesco Cameli says, “I always strive for perfection in my work, and I’m doing the same with the studio. I want people to walk in here and feel it’s the best studio they’ve ever been to.”

Sphere L.A. consists of two large control rooms, one with a lovingly restored Neve 8078 and the other with a beautiful SSL 4072 G+, each with Pro Tools HDX2 loaded with Prism ADA 8XR conversion (48 I/O and 24 in/72 out, respectively).

A private lounge, 50 x 35-foot live room and four booths complete the Neve studio, with three further recording spaces dedicated to the SSL suite. There’s also a separate writing room, full dining facilities and private courtyard.

Sphere has an extensive equipment list; highlights include PMC BB5-XBD active monitoring in both control rooms, Studer and Ampex tape machines, a separate print rig with Lavry Gold AD/DA in the SSL room and an extremely comprehensive mic collection.

Each control room is loaded with large racks of carefully selected outboard. The collections include Fairchild, Pultec, Neve, GML, UREI, Bricasti, API, Manley, Avalon Chandler and much more.

The studio is also home to a variety of instruments such as multiple drum kits and snares; Steinway models D, B and upright; a Wurlitzer; Hammond B3 with Leslie; Stage and Suitcase Rhodes; Yamaha CP70; and a large selection of guitars and basses, plus amps from Diezel, Mesa, Marshall, Friedman, Ampeg, Vox, Lazy J and SWR.

INFRASONIC SOUND WELCOMES ENGINEER DAVE GARDNER

Infrasonic Sound, an audio and vinyl mastering studio in Los Angeles, has announced that engineer Dave Gardner will join the studio’s staff beginning this month. Gardner, the founder of Magneto Mastering in Minneapolis, brings more than 17 years of experience to his new position at Infrasonic Sound.

Gardner will join Principal Mastering Engineer Pete Lyman and engineers Phillip Rodriguez and Nick Townsend as a full-time member of the studio’s staff. Infrasonic is co-owned by Lyman and Jeffrey Ehrenberg.

“Dave’s approach to mastering really aligns with Infrasonic’s ethos,” says co-owner Pete Lyman. “His client roster is equally as diverse, from punk to Americana to jazz, and he thinks of the mastering process not as a one-way experience for the client, but as a collaborative one. We’re really looking forward to joining forces and utilizing the talent—and the collection of vintage Ampex tape machines!—that Dave will contribute.”

Gardner will integrate his existing mastering setup into the studio at Infrasonic, including his ATC SCM 100A speakers. While on staff, he will continue working as Audio Consultant for Noiseland Industries, coordinating the audio components of the company’s vinyl manufacturing process. The position complements Infrasonic’s thriving vinyl mastering department.

“Coming to Infrasonic feels, both from a facility standpoint and a client standpoint, like everything is coming together in exactly the right fit,” Gardner says. “Everything I do as a digital mastering engineer keeps an eye toward vinyl as the end-format. This approach has really dictated my creative decisions and informed the way that I handle audio.”

Some of Gardner’s recent projects include upcoming releases for Pkew Pkew Pkew (Gunshots), the forthcoming release from Mrs. Magician, Mean Jeans for Fat Wreck Chords, and Ceremony’s The L-Shaped Man. Gardner has also mastered projects for The Hold Steady, Black Lips, Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, Trampled by Turtles and Drive Like Jehu.

MORGAN MALLORY RECORDS CROWDFUNDED ALBUM AT HYBRID STUDIOS

Like legions of other artists do for their first recording, Morgan Mallory could have set up shop in a spare bedroom and record a decent-quality product. But his ultimate goal was to work in an inspiring recording studio, surrounded by the best gear and trained professional ears to produce an album of major-label quality. For Mallory, Hybrid Studios fit the bill perfectly.

When it came to the matter of how to finance a commercial recording in a world-class studio, Mallory had another goal: He wanted the album to be 100 percent crowdfunded. After raising $8,000 from 150 donors over six months through a GoFundMe account, Mallory’s debut studio album, Manifesto, was recorded, mixed and produced at Hybrid Studios by Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer Philip Allen and mastered by Hybrid’s Billy Klein.

“Making this album at Hybrid Studios with this talented team of people was really a dream come true,” Mallory says. “I am completely blown away at the sound quality, the depth, and the dynamics of the recordings and know that I could have never come close to bringing this project to life the right way without the Hybrid Studios team and Hitstorm.”

Backing Mallory in the studio was the band The Hitstorm; Justin Norman on guitar, Ryan Smith on drums and Phil Allen on bass, who tracked the songs together in Hybrid’s 1,000-square-foot live room.

“Morgan is an incredible talent, so it’s no surprise that he made an incredible album here at Hybrid,” says Studio Manager Mike Miller. “I think the amazing fans that crowdfunded this project are going to be blown away when they hear Manifesto; you can really hear the dedication that Morgan, Phil and the Hitstorm put into every track.”

Mallory believes that the fact that so many people came out of the woodwork to support Manifesto is a testament of the importance of community. “This project is a message to young, budding artists that they should dream bigger, plan farther and forge their own path towards making themselves heard.”

 

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