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Mix Regional News: Canada


Toronto’s Subterranean Sound recently acquired the famed AIR Montserrat Neve console. Only two other consoles were ever made that feature the 31106 Module. (Subterranean’s console is the first of the three. The second of the three consoles is still in use today at AIR Studios in London. The third was originally purchased by Atlantic in New York, but was later sold to Bryan Adams’ Warehouse Studios in Vancouver, where it is still in use today.)

As the story goes, the late, legendary producer Sir George Martin commissioned his friend, Rupert Neve, to build an ambitious console for his new studio in Montserrat. Some special notes about the console include: It was one of the first Neve consoles to feature remote mic pre’s, and it has a bandwidth up to 100 kHz. No other Neve has this feature.

While Subterranean Sound Studios has operated since 2006, it closed in 2011 and then re-opened in 2015 after a major renovation—they had a new space built, acquired lots of new equipment, and, most significantly, they swapped out their Trident Vector 432 console for the Neve, which was purchased from Allaire Studios in New York.

 The new studio, located in downtown Toronto (near Yorkville), houses three rooms: a live room (600 square feet), a control room (400 square feet) and an iso booth (100 square feet). The new space was constructed from the ground up and designed by Martin Pilchner, with expert guidance from Brian Chapnik of HGC Engineering. Construction was done by Den Bosch + Finchley of Toronto.

“Our philosophy is total privacy—when the studio is rented, only the client is allowed in,” says engineer/studio manager Scott Lake. “Our studio is for people who want to record on one of the best consoles on Earth and with some of the best outboard gear and microphones in the world. Period.

“George Martin certainly made some of the greatest contributions to modern recording, and in light of his recent passing, we are both very proud and honored to carry on Sir George’s legacy through this very special console,” added Lake.

He also notes that there are no Studio 2s or Studio 3s at Subterranean. There is a private B room, but it does not get rented out often or at the same time as Studio A. The B room features a host of vintage synths—a Modular Moog, Roland Jupiter-8, ARP 2600, EMS VCS 3, Oberheim Four Voice, Yamaha CS-80, and Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, among others.

“We are a semi-private and not primarily profit motivated. We’re music motivated, and we’re selective about whom we work with,” Lake continues. “If people need extra time, we give it to them. We want to make records the way they used to be made.”

Ziad Al-Hillal is an in-house producer and engineer at Subterranean.

Tiny Havoc’s Blue Light Session at Blue Light Studio.


Blue Light Studio of Vancouver has launched a concert/showcase series called Blue Light Sessions, where it hosts 50 guests in its live room for an up-close and personal show with a select band. The whole night is recorded live and filmed. The first Blue Light Session took place June 24 with Vancouver-based band Tiny Havoc.

Chief engineer Kaj Falch-Nielsen says the studio has the next four months booked, but because interest is increasing, there are plans to host sessions twice a month; check the Upcoming Events section of the studio’s Facebook page for the next event.

“I was inspired by YouTube videos and the love for good-quality audio on live videos,” says Falch-Nielsen. “Too often I feel videos are lacking either good audio or good video, and I really just love the idea of having the live vibe but still having the controlled environment of the studio.

“There really isn’t anything like this in Vancouver, and I can’t think of a better venue to see a band,” he continues. “So it is adding a lot of value to the music scene here, which we believe is a great thing. It’s also really good marketing for us to constantly be putting out videos of the event and a great way for way more musicians to see the space.”

Blue Light has also recently completed the renovation of its new space and is now fully functional. The new location at 1839 Franklin Street in Vancouver features two control rooms, two iso booths, a shared live room, and three production suites, as well as a full kitchen, lounge, and deck outside to enjoy the beautiful Vancouver mountain view.

Renovations started in May 2015 and were completed in May 2016, starting with an empty warehouse. “We completely custom designed the inside, and built it all ourselves…with the help of a few professionals like the electrician, of course,” says Falch-Nielsen.

Blue Light has also recently seen a variety of artists pass through its doors. The Screaming Dead were in with producer Cordie Charge and engineer Falch-Nielsen working on live off the floor old-school punk rock. They used a Marshall JCM 900, Markbass amp, and a Ludwig kit. For vocals they used an Audio-Technica AT3060 with a Sonic Farm Silkworm into a DBX 163X and a vintage API 550A EQ…Ria Jade worked on her debut EP with producer/engineer Falch-Nielsen. Many of the vocal tracks were recorded through a vintage RCA 44 alongside an AKG C414. The drum sound on the first single “Number One” relied heavily on the “washroom chamber,” giving it a gritty vintage tone…Vanessa Moodly worked with engineer Falch-Nielsen (Moodly self-produced) on new material. All music except vocals was recorded live off the floor. Glynn Johns’ overhead technique was used on the drums with an AEA R92 and a RCA 44…Withinroots worked on “Cherish” with producer N.D.T. and engineer Kenny Gourmet. They used a Toft Series ATB 24 mixer, mixed in the box using UAD plug-ins (Teletronix LA-2A Silver, UA 1176LN, Harrison 32C EQ), Waves Plug-ins (Rvox, CLA 3a, REQ, Rverb), and did final bounce through paired Chandler LTD-1 EQ/preamps…Dev09 worked on “Bored” with producer Fayo&Chill and engineer Gourmet. They used They used a Toft Series ATB 24 mixer, mixed in the box using UAD plug-ins (Teletronix LA-2A Silver, UA 1176LN, Harrison 32C EQ), Waves Plug-ins (Rvox, CLA 3a, REQ, Rverb), and did final bounce through paired Chandler LTD-1 EQ/preamps.