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Miami News & Notes 2014

n Studio A at Miami’s Hit Factory Criteria, multiplatinum hitmaker Timbaland continued production on the soundtrack for the new drama series Empire, from Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television.

Taking a break from tracking, Maná poses for a quick snapshot in Studio E. Kneeling in front is drummer Alex Gonzalez, seated at right with acoustic guitar is vocalist Fher Olvera, seated at left is engineer Thom Russo, rear left is guitarist Sergio Vallin, and rear right is co-producer Jorge Noriega.

Timbaland, Lil Wayne, Austin Mahone and More at The Hit Factory Criteria Miami

In Studio A at Miami’s Hit Factory Criteria, multiplatinum hitmaker Timbaland continued production on the soundtrack for the new drama series Empire, from Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Academy Award-nominee Lee Daniels and Emmy Award-winner Danny Strong created the series. Timbaland also wrote the original music, and Chris Godbey assisted by Perry Jimenez engineered the sessions.

In between tour dates, teen heartthrob Austin Mahone found time to visit the studio to work on some new material. He spent a few days in the 9000J-equipped Studio D recording vocals with songwriter/producer/vocal scientist Mischke (Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Trey Songz). The sessions were engineered by Ian Mercel and assisted by Sam Allison.

As preparations wind down for his upcoming tour with Drake, Lil Wayne camped out at the studio putting the final touches on his eagerly awaited next release. Various producers joined Wayne and mixing engineer Fabian Marasciullo in the studio’s vintage Neve 8078-equipped Studio C. Andy Rodriguez and Sam Bohl assisted the sessions.

On the other side of the building in Studio F, Cash Money co-CEO Bryan “Birdman” Williams continued working with the CMR stable of talent. Engineer Fareed Salamah and assistant Sean Buchanan manned the SSL Duality for the sessions.

Returning to the site of their previous platinum successes, rock act Maná set up shop at the studio to record their as-yet-untitled CD. The band worked with co-producer Jorge Noriega and longtime engineer Thom Russo. Hit Factory Criteria staffer Femio Hernández also joined them for the festivities.

Elvis Crespo, Maffio and Olga Tanon

Studio Center Celebrates 42 Years and Number-One Studio Status

Studio Center is celebrating its 42-year anniversary, and in August, it celebrated its five-year anniversary of the new owners and management team.

“We pride ourselves in not only having great studios, engineers and producers, but also having great service,” says Hector Mendez, president of Studio Center. “Since I came to the company, one of my biggest focuses has been on the service, which I think sometimes gets lost in this industry. I truly feel that our service is one of the key components to our success and continued growth in this ever-changing industry.

Additionally, the Miami New Times recently named Studio Center the Number-One Studio in South Florida.

Artists who have visited the studio recently include Chino & Nacho, who worked on “Tu Me Quemas” with engineer Jorge Taveras; Fonseca, who worked on Eres Mi Sueno (which won a Grammy) with engineer Gary Bannister; Olga Tanon, who worked on Una Mujer with engineers Victor Mercader and Taveras; Elvis Crespo, who worked on One Flag with engineers Taveras and Mercader; Gloria Trevi, who worked on De Pelicula with engineer Taveras; Gente de Zona, who worked on “Ella Me Dijo” with engineers Taveras and Mercader; Henry Santos, who worked on “La Vida” with engineer Mercader; and Maffio, who worked on Mi Sonido with engineers Bannister, Taveras and Mercader. Maffio also produced all of the aforementioned projects.

Additionally, classical music artist Kento Masuda worked on Loved One with engineers Gary Vandy and Richard Maloney and producer Gary Vandy Audio Productions (Masuda also produced); Mike Dillon worked on Band of Outsiders with Vandy and Maloney engineering, and Dillon, Vandy and Maloney producing; HiTide worked on new material with Vandy and Maloney engineering, and HiTide and Gary Vandy Audio Productions producing; and Ignacio “Nacho” Nunez worked on his first solo project with Vandy and Maloney engineering, and Nunez and Gary Vandy Audio Productions producing.

Robert Dante

Velvet Basement Studio Acquires Historic Console, Relocates

Velvet Basement Studios has recently relocated into a 1,200-square-foot facility and acquired an SSL 6000 console, which was formerly owned by the late, great Tonight Show legend Johnny Carson.

“We had been using the flagship Yamaha DM2000 digital console for all of our mixing for the last decade, and it has treated us amazingly,” says Robert Dante, studio CEO and founder/chief producer and engineer. “The DM2000 is quite a solid piece of gear. But digital is digital and analog is still what we like to hear. So we have finally done away with the digital console, and the old space altogether, and now have the SSL 6000 console, which was formerly owned by Johnny Carson! We love the sound of this analog beast. Its warm and punchy character has been a nice addition to our overall sound. Sure it was great having total recall with flying faders using the DM2000, but we don’t think about those fancy details very much once we heard what this thing is capable of.”

The control room is an acoustically sound, floated-floor room in a room, with hardwood floors and ample bass traps and acoustic treatment, which Dante says provides “a very tight bottom and very accurate listening environment.”

Also noteworthy is the studio’s 500-square-foot live room with hardwood floors, which is equipped with a new six-piece set of Premiere drums and a new Kawai acoustic piano.

In Velvet Basement’s quest for “more analog,” the studio also just added a Manley Vari-Mu Compressor/Limiter to its collection of gear. “We love the way it glues together our mixes, delivering a sweet, smooth flavor rather than a transparent one,” Dante says.

Velvet Basement also has a lounge with a kitchen, leather couch, flat-screen TV, and an original vintage Galaga arcade game from the ’80s, which, according to Dante, “our clients love to jump on when they feel need to shoot some aliens.”

Recent artists who have visited the studio include international preacher/motivational speaker/author Dr. Mattie Nottage, who worked on a Christian/Gospel single for her ministry; writer/guitarist Michael Burmin, who is working on songs for artist; PinoGrillo, who is recording a pop/urban album; and Albert Camino and his band Analog, who recorded their indie-rock album. All projects were engineered by Dante.