Grammy-winning, multi-Platinum hip hop artist T.I. (pictured) equips his Echo Recording Studios in Atlanta with a Digidesign Pro Tools HD system and a 48-fader ICON integrated console. The console resides in the studio’s main room, the George Augsperger-designed Studio A.
The room is typically booked weeks, if not months, in advance. “As word has gotten around in the local music community that we’ve got an ICON in here, we’re getting calls from people in Atlanta as well as people in Miami and other cities,” says Elliot Carter, Echo Recording Studios’ chief engineer. “Everybody wants to work here on the ICON.”
Elliot Carter, Echo Recording Studios’ chief engineer
For Carter, the ICON D-Control work surface has simplified his job on several levels. “I’ve always been an ‘in-the-box’ mixer, and the ICON was a logical step for me,” he explains. “I’m a big fan of the custom fader groups. It all lays out the way I left it. I can pull the tracks of a verse up on the first group, the chorus up on the next group, or whatever I need for any project. It really does wonders for my workflow.
“Mind you, I love the sound of a console, but plug-ins now sound really close to the real thing, and its nice to have the controls of any of them [available] on the ICON. If I want it to sound like an SSL or a Neve, it’s as easy as pressing a button.”
The studio’s two other project rooms are furnished with Pro Tools HD and Control|24 systems. “We start a lot of projects in Studios B and C, and then move them to the A room,” Carter explains. “Being able to move the entire project over, including all the automation, is something we couldn’t live without.”
Several of the studio’s visiting engineers have also been impressed. “Wyclef’s engineer, Serg, was in the other day and we were talking about the ICON,” Carter says. “He’s got this amazing studio—all analog—but he was raving about our place and how easy it was to go [from] room to room. He loves being able to walk right in and get to work. Another major mixer came up here from Miami, and he shipped two 16-space racks up, but he ended up using mostly plug-ins instead. He called last week and said it sounds like he mixed it on his own console.”
Studio owner T.I. has been working on his own recordings and producing tracks for artists including Bow Wow, Lil Scrappy, Keyshia Cole and Young Dro. In addition to co-executive producing Wyclef Jean’s upcoming release, he’s starring in the new film, American Gangster, with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.
For Carter, T.I.’s tight schedule means that he must maintain a loose schedule. “I have to be ready to work—T.I. lives about 15 minutes away,” he says. “When he calls me and tells me to set something up, I need to have it ready to go before he gets here. With the ICON, it’s no sweat.”