Michael Helpern (standing) and Jason Finkel at Vox/Dirty Kicks in NYC
After several previous attempts of varying degrees of success, New York–based engineer/musician Michael Helpern has teamed with his “day job,” Voxonic, to open his own studio, Dirty Kicks, which doubles as the employers’ voice-over room, Vox Studios.
Voxonic is a firm using patent-pending software to replicate any human voice into any language. "We had been doing a lot of voiceover work at Right Track Studios," recalls Helpern. "I told my boss, who also happens to own the building we're in, a 100,000 square-foot space on East 33rd Street, 'Look, I have equipment, and you have an office building. Why don't you build me a recording studio, I'll bring my equipment, you use it during the day, and I'll use it at night. It will be mutually beneficial.' We broke ground almost a year ago."
Dubbed Vox Studios, the 700 square-foot recording facility was designed by David Ares of Jigsaw Sound with acoustics by Ken Harrison of Longbow Acoustics. The studio operates as Vox Studios Monday through Friday during regular business hours. But at all other times, it's Dirty Kicks. "At night, we're making rock records," Helpern says with a grin. "And that's the nature of successful studios these days: finding situations that work for everyone involved. For the most part, we're always working around the clock on something."
The Vox/Dirty Kicks control room, usually manned by Jason Finkel, who joined the studio from Right Track Recording, features an API DSM 48 console at its core. The rack-mount mixing system is flexibly configurable, and is available in 24 to 72-channel packages. All DSM systems include a meter panel featuring stereo and auxiliary meters, an API 7800 control room master section, a 2500 stereo buss compressor, an 8200 eight-channel summing mixer, TT patchbay, 424 buss interface box, rear panel connections with all harnessing, and a 19-inch rack.
Helpern insists that at first glance, it appears that Vox/Dirty Kicks has a traditional analog console. "We built somewhat of a console for the DSM system to fit into," he explains. "If you saw the room, you'd think, 'Is that a console or not?' I keep saying that, one day, I'm going to have an API Legacy. But until that day arrives, I sort of have one anyway."