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Hit Factory Criteria at 50: Studio Marks Golden Anniversary with Upgrades

At Hit Factory Criteria’s new SSL Duality console are (from left) studio manager Trevor Fletcher, general manager Bob Lanier and chief technician Simon Soong

Photo: Les Stone

Hit Factory Criteria Studios (Miami) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and recent upgrades show how the studio continues to thrive in this tricky business. With help from SSL, the studio’s older Sony Oxford console has been replaced with an SSL Duality. In addition, with assistance from Guitar Center Pro, five Pro Tools systems were upgraded to HD5s with Apple 30-inch Cinema displays.

Bob Lanier, general manager of Hit Factory Criteria Entertainment says that the new console, with its flexible control surface, allows the studio to accommodate diverse projects.“One thing about this studio and where [late owner] Eddie Germano and Janice Germano, owner/CEO, always wanted it to be was to be on target as far as the versatility of the rooms,” says Lanier. “With the variety of clientele we have, we’ve got to have that versatility.”

“A lot of our clients have established a comfort level with SSL products,” says studio manager Trevor Fletcher. “We’ve bought our share of them over the years, and this is the next cutting edge. It’s got the analog control surface and the integration of DAW control. While we’ve got lots of established, large-format consoles here, we keep an eye to the future.”

During his 25-plus years with the studio—dating to long before Hit Factory acquired the facility in 1999—Fletcher has seen the clientele change, from primarily soul and R&B to rock to disco to today’s mix of urban, Latin, rock ’n’ roll, pop and more.

“Just in the past couple of months,” Lanier says, “we’ve had the Australian group Jet with Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell with Timbaland, Madonna mixes, Mariah Carey mixes.”

Fletcher and Lanier acknowledge that the proliferation of project rooms, low-budget gear and lower label budgets have changed the way they work over the years, but Fletcher says the studio will simply “grow with it. It’s just another day and another way you have to be creative to give your clients the best service for the money.”

“Would I prefer it was 1977?” Lanier asks with a laugh. “Yeah. That would be great. The business model for record companies then was essentially, ‘Here’s a starting budget. Let us know when you need more.’ Now it’s oriented to the business side and costs and control. But people recognize what we provide here—the service and acoustic spaces—and people are willing to pay for that when the best matters.”

Barbara Schultz is an assistant editor at Mix.