Spring has sprung again in Nashville, bringing with it a few newstudio developments. Here, you can see the ongoing trends in theindustry: New studio start-ups are increasingly predicated oncomputer-/software-based technology platforms — as opposed tothe heavy machinery of analog consoles and machines — and onthe pursuit of niche business.
Soundstation Studios and Franklin Mastering are part of acomplex of independently owned facilities linked to a newcontemporary Christian record label created as a joint venture withZomba. (At press time, the label name was still being formulated.)Although the recording studio and the mastering facility areindependently owned, each owner realized the potential benefit ofhuddling the facilities together in the same building with thelabel. “Projects are getting channeled from the record labels— there's another one close by called Inpop — to thestudio and the mastering studio,” says Franklin Masteringowner and chief engineer Jeff Baggett. “They're not the onlysources of business for the studios, but it's nice to have them askind of anchors for the businesses.”
Both Soundstation and Franklin Mastering are built around theupper end of the mass-market digital technology revolution.Soundstation, owned by Paul Wright, features a 64-channel Pro Tools24|MIXplus with a 32-fader Pro Control, RADAR II, ADATs and DA-78s.Franklin Mastering is based on a SADiE system, with other gear suchas Z-Systems z-Q2 digital mastering EQ, Waves L2 limiting, ApogeePSX-100 with UV22 dithering and Z-systems routing.
“This is a whole new way to do things for thisarea,” says Baggett. “We're not targeting the countryartists as intently as the studios on the Row do. There's a hugegroup of people here who make music that's not country, and theydon't have the budgets that studios on the Row need.”
With mastering services going for about $125 per hour, and thestudio for $750 to $1,000 a day, the technical infrastructureavailable is sophisticated, considering the budgets those artistshave to work within.
“The Nashville studio infrastructure, as it is, can'taddress all the [economic] needs of the growing base of differenttypes of music that are out here that major labels don'tsign,” Baggett says. “They need more budget optionsthan the traditional studio setup can give them.”
Another somewhat higher-toned niche is also being addressed inwhat will become Georgetown Masters' new 5.1 surround masteringsuite. In February, owner and chief mastering engineer DennyPurcell began gutting the mini-movie theater he had in the studio'sbasement, and, with input from consultant Rick Loomis, he expectsto have a dedicated 5.1 mastering studio up and running by thebeginning of summer.
The design could be called minimalist: There will be no specificconsole, just whichever small analog or digital mixer Purcell feelsis right for each job. Monitoring will be via Nova speakers andcustom subs powered by Nelson Pass amplifiers.
Purcell won't discuss the costs associated with the new studio,but he did say that a slew of surround titles from Warner Recordsare already coming to his door, perhaps a sign that the majorlabels are beginning to turn their attention toward new releasesand away from legal battles with online music companies and thehuge mergers they've been going through.
“I hope so,” says Purcell, “because I thinkthat DVD-Audio is the last chance for the professional audiobusiness to present the consumer with quality, with an idea of howgood music can sound. This [format] is the closest they're evergoing to get to being in the same room with the artist whilethey're performing. It's that good. So it's worth therisk.”
School of Audio Engineering's Nashville location now has a new5.1 surround classroom. The studio, equipped with Mackie-poweredmonitors and a Mackie 8-bus console, was built by Nashville-basedMichael Cronin Acoustical Construction. The studio has one uniquewrinkle: Cronin added a second pair of rear surrounds behind thefirst rank to widen the surround field for a class of 20-somestudents.
Cronin will also be building the classroom studios at SAE's nextlocation, which is in North Miami, not far from the Hit FactoryCriteria complex. The 30,000-square-foot building will be adeparture from SAE president Tom Misner's otherwise boilerplatedesigns for the company's other 30-plus studio/schools. In Miami,three control rooms, equipped with an SSL G-plus, a Digidesign ProControl and a console to be named later, will face on a largecentral recording area. It will also, Misner explained, be anaesthetic departure. “This is going to be much more of anup-market type of facility in terms of design,” he says.“It will be closer to Studio 301 [Misner's opulent flagshipfacility in Sydney, Australia].” The reason? “Miami iscritical for developing our school in the South Americanmarket,” the always-candid Misner replied. “Down here,we want the glitz.”
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