From left: Ted Joseph, Wally Simmons, Sean O'Dwyer, Bob
Ferrari, Kirk Elliot and James "Bonzai" Caruso
Odds On Recording Studios in Henderson, Nev., just southeast of Las Vegas, is undergoing an extensive $2 million-plus renovation and expansion while remaining open for business, recently hosting sessions for artists such as Akon, T.I., Smash Mouth lead singer Steve Harwell and Huey Lewis.
"You’ve got so many people coming through here [Las Vegas] and they don’t just play for a night; they’re here for anywhere from a couple of nights to a week," says Bob Ferrari, Odds On Recording's head of audio production and development. "A good example of that was Alicia Keys, who was in with her engineer, Ann Mincieli, to do a remix of 'Superwoman' [for the WNBA playoffs], and it was perfect for them because Alicia was here for four nights and Ann could come over and work for two or three of those nights. We are off the beaten path, so if you don’t like being in a hotel with all of that excitement and flash, you can still come here and get away just like you’re in Nashville or New York or L.A. We’re five minutes from [McCarran International] airport. We’re right at the edge of Las Vegas."
The expansion includes the addition of a new client lounge and three new purpose-built studios within an unused 7,500-square-foot warehouse space; each of the new studios will feature a Solid State Logic console. The new studios comprise a new main tracking room with a 96-input SSL Duality; a new mixing room with Odds On Recording's existing 80-input SSL 9000 K console; and a Studio C, dedicated to writing, editing and pre-production, which will house a newly acquired SSL Matrix console. The final phase of expansion is expected to take place in early 2009 with the addition of a new mastering suite.
"It’s kind of a stair-stepped build out," explains Ferrari. "I’m looking at somewhere between mid-December to the first of the year for the big Duality tracking room to open, and then January for moving the 9K [console] and installing it in that room. And then we’ll take the Matrix and put it in Studio C, and I’m thinking that will be end of January, mid-February. And then we’ll immediately install the mastering room from there."
Ferrari adds that the new tracking and mixing rooms will each have Allen Sides' Ocean Way Monitor Systems. "We want you to be able to go from room to room without hearing a big change in sound, of course. And Allen is also involved in the tuning of the rooms and some of the acoustic treatment."
Ferrari also says that the philosophy behind Odds On Recording's new purpose-built rooms allows clients with lower budgets to be able to afford to accomplish all that they need to accomplish on a project. "I’m really big on workflow," he says. "I’m sure you know from all the guys you talk to that people don’t do all the work in one room anymore because budgets have changed. So if you can offer to people that they can go down the hall to do all their edits and a few overdubs in a room that’s much more cost-effective, I think they’ll stay in the facility and not jump all over, back and forth. They can stay in a place for a month or however long because they’re not getting hit at full price for one room for that whole time. It’s a cost-conscious world now."
Ferrari has been planning and guiding Odds On Recording's expansion in conjunction with Grammy Award–winning mixing and recording engineer James "Bonzai" Caruso and multi-Platinum engineer Sean O'Dwyer, who are also on staff at the facility. Ferrari says that the three of them "work together like a creative think tank. We all have different backgrounds and experiences, but the chemistry we have together makes for great recordings."
In planning the new tracking room, Odds On Recording’s team felt that offering a choice of acoustical environments was of primary importance. “Sean, Bonzai and I sat down with Carl Yanchar [of Yanchar Design & Consulting Group in Los Angeles], who works with Allen Sides quite a bit, and we designed these rooms that are a mix of the new technology, like the Duality, with an old-school room sound—a big, live tracking room. One of the booths is going to have marble flooring and stone walls, one booth will have a medium-to-live sound, and then a super-dead room, so we would have all those environments—like you used to get when you went into a studio [laughs]. I just think that not enough rooms have groovy environments anymore, where you can let the acoustics do their job, and not reach for a plug-in or a stand-alone reverb box.”
Additionally, Ferrari says, “There’s a certain amount of warehouse space that’s left—about 1,500 square feet—and both rooms have panels going to that warehouse. So if somebody goes, ‘Man, I just want to record some really trashy, cool drums in that warehouse,’ all you have to do is go out and plug in that panel. I think that’s kind of cool.”
Ferrari is emphasizing the sizes and the acoustics of Odds On Recording’s new tracking spaces because he notes a rising interest in live tracking among the younger generation. “Both in hip-hop, rock and with the popularity of programs like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, we’re seeing an upswing by young musicians towards using more live instruments and musicians,” he says. “All these kids who have heard programmed music for the first 10 years of their life and nothing else are suddenly discovering live instruments again. And you know what? That means kids are going to be showing up with drums and guitar rigs, and all that good stuff that we grew up on. I’m seeing it happen already—more and more bands going, ‘Hey, I need to get into a room, and the room needs to be big enough to accommodate us.’ We wanted to expand Odds On Recording now to capitalize on this great resurgence, and are committed to being part of the future of the music industry.”
Bob Ferrari (left) and James "Bonzai" Caruso with models from Odds On Recording's vintage mic collection.
Beyond building new rooms, installing new consoles and rethinking the ways in which Odds On Recording has been using its property, the facility also inherited a choice collection of vintage tube microphones, including models from AKG, Gefell and Neumann, when it purchased RPM Studios in New York City. Ferrari wants to place these mics on active duty and called upon David Bock of Bock Audio Designs to restore the collection. "I wanted to open the rooms knowing the mics were in really mint condition,” Ferrari says. “As microphones age, the tubes and capsules wear out and need to be cleaned. I’ve known David for years and have always supported Soundelux mics and used them. I think they’re fantastic. So when David and I had a chance to sit down and go through the collection and find out what needed work, what didn’t need work, it just was such an obvious fit to go, ‘David, you’re one of the gurus. Take these and start working on them!’ [Laughs.] I don’t think there’s anybody in Nevada who has a collection like this, so it’s really nice because if you come out here to work, you’re going to reach for tools you’re used to having. David will restore them to their full working condition. His work is a cut above the rest.”
Lastly, Odds On Recording is developing an in-house label to nurture selected new artists. “We’ve got Ted Joseph, who used to be with Warner Bros. and has worked on breaking a number of records throughout the years,” Ferrari says. “Ted is running the label side of things, and we have national distribution through Koch [Entertainment], so it’s a nice fit: We can develop acts in the studios, and we can get product to market. Now that doesn’t mean that we’re going to make a record with anybody who walks through the door, obviously. We’re hoping to have this kind of creative workflow going on from someone who can bring in an act, or an act is here and we discover it, or any number of those things.
“The studio-label tie-in captures that classic big studio, boutique record label feel like A&M had in the ’70s, where everyone is working on the same property,” Ferrari concludes. “Combining this stunning array of new and vintage equipment along with a warm aesthetic that helps our clients get into their creative space while exciting the senses, Odds On Recording is on the cutting edge of what recording studios should be, not only in Las Vegas but around the world.”