Whether it was a project studio or a full-blown, multi-room facility, what was the most artistic place in which you recorded and why?
One of the best studios that I have ever worked in or been associated with is Nebula Zone Recording. The various studios and personel have been involved in paramount projects with some of the most talented artist in hip-hop, R&B, rock and pop (i.e., The Roots, Scott Storch, Major Figgas, etc.). Beside the fact that these are my childhood friends, the vast amount of expertise and experience is stagering. The current facility is a space that is ergonomically pleasing in every aspect—from the console to the lounge that was built to make the artist feel at home with ease. It has a creative atmosphere that is craved by any artist that needs a place to be creative without distractions. Located in the quiet confines of Fox Chase on the outskirts of Philadelphila, it is easily acessable from any form of transportation in the city, which makes it a choice pick for recording studios. I personally wouldn't dream of going anywhere else, even if I didn't know them behind the simple fact that this place has that "magic" feel that every artist needs to create the best he can in the same vein as an Abby Road or Electric Ladyland. As a producer and an artist, it is and will always be my Mecca.
I would like to name GK Labs Mastering as one of the most impressive places I have ever mixed and mastered in. This unique room is very amazing for its size. The room was initially designed by owner and chief mastering engineer Gerry King, and was assisted by acoustician and inventor Doug Magyari from Golden Acoustics.
The room features dimensions where the height, width and length of the room are based on a triad of the Golden Ratio.(7 feet 2 inches [H], 11 feet 7 inches [W] and 18 feet 9 inches [L]). Acoustic treatment via Golden Acoustics diffuser panels. The imaging and depth provided by a mainly diffused room works extremely well for this particular mixing and mastering suite.
This room allowed us to mix and master for extended periods of time with less ear fatigue than I have previously experienced with other rooms. Gerry's minimalist approach to the listening environment where custom furniture allows for nearly unobstructed paths from the playback system.
By far, it would have to be Swing House. Their dedication to the creative process, and the overall quality of the facility is unmatched.
I found the most "artistic" place I recorded was right in front of my DAW—with a full set of Marshall stacks off to the side—but I used a set of Beyerdymanic DT880 headphones, which are partially "open." This allowed me to hear the "band" in the headphones, but also allowed me to hear (and feel) the Marshall plexi stacks near me. As a guitarist (25-plus years), you definitely play differently when you can feel that amp pumping next to you or by your feet, etc. Playing with the amp "head" in a control room at a studio while the "speaker cab" is located in some distant room just doesn't feel "artistic" or real. There is a delay, no matter how minor.
At home, I run two mics on the Marshall cabs. An SM57 into a Trident 4T mic pre, and a Beyer M160 ribbon into a D.W. Fearn mic pre through an 1176 and API 550B EQ.
As crazy as this may sound, the location is not what sets the artistic mood for me. First: How prepared the group and I are for the project. Second: How well the group is able to interact with the engineer and/or producer. Third: The equipment is good enough for the prescribed situation so that it does not interfere with the process.
If everyone is competent and in sync working together toward making the best product, all the other issues seem to work themselves out.
Heck, I will record in a soiled, run-down bus terminal bathroom if the end-result is a great recording. I just have to remeber to wash my hands afterward!