For years, world-class studios in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, bore the name Brooklyn, confusing would-be clients and rubbing salt in the wounds of Brooklynites who lamented the defection of the Dodgers to L.A. in 1957. Today, the L.A. studio that once had Brooklyn in its title operates under a different name (Extasy), and the Austin facility has relocated to its owner's hometown: Brooklyn.
Simply and appropriately named Brooklyn Recording, the studio is owned and operated by Andy Taub, a Brooklyn native who left home in 1982 to attend college in New Orleans. In 1988, he made his way to San Francisco, where he embarked on a successful career as a studio employee and engineer. From there, it was on to Austin, where he launched his first professional studio, Brooklyn Bridge.
Taub might have stayed in Austin had a series of happy accidents not conspired to lure him back to the place where he grew up and where his parents still live. He planned to purchase the building in which he had operated Brooklyn Bridge, but the owner tripled the price. “It was the height of the dotcom boom, and the price went up to $900,000,” he says. “Luckily, I found a good deal on a building in Brooklyn that seemed perfect. It was a better deal than I could have gotten in Austin or elsewhere in New York.”
Taub bought a building in the residential Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn and hired renowned architect John Storyk to help him build his dream studio: A one-room facility with ample tracking and control room space, a Neve 8058 with Flying Faders, two Studer A-800 Mark IIIs (one with 16-track heads), a Pro Tools|HD rig with 32 outputs, and an “A” list of microphones and outboard gear. Other equipment highlights include an Ampex ATR 104 half-inch machine; Genelec 1039 soffitt-mounted monitors and KRK E8 near-fields; a 1904 Steinway B; a Hammond B3 with a Leslie 122 cabinet; and an extensive array of vintage amplifiers, instruments, stompboxes, direct boxes, etc.
Since opening in September 2002, the studio has hosted an impressive list of clients that includes Edie Brickell, Superhuman Strength, Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes, actress-turned-musician Eszter Balint (best known for her co-starring role in Jim Jarmusch's debut film, Stranger Than Paradise), the Claudia Quintet and Clem Snide with producer Joe Chiccarelli.
In fact, the Snide project was one of the studio's test sessions, and it came off without a hitch, according to Chiccarelli. He recalls, “Despite the fact that we were the maiden voyage for the studio, the sessions went flawlessly. The tracking rooms sound warm and alive, and there are plenty of iso booths. Because the room acoustics were so wonderful and the studio has an EMT plate, I used hardly any digital effects when mixing.”
Chiccarelli continues, “Brooklyn has a great collection of old, esoteric mics and tube compressors. There was so much to choose from that I was able to get all of my sounds on tape just the way I wanted them, so the mixing process was very quick. In fact, on some days, we were able to mix three songs per day.”
One of Brooklyn's distinguishing characteristics is the large size of its control room. At approximately 800 square feet, it is only slightly smaller than the 1,000-square-foot tracking area and able to accommodate musicians and their gear, as well as Taub's habit of walking away from the sweet spot to hear the mix.
“I'm in the control room a lot,” he says, explaining his decision to allot approximately half of the studio's footprint to the control room. “I like having space. It always gets crowded in the control room. I like to walk around and hear the mix in different spots. I also like to set up a keyboardist in the room and still have enough space for the gear that people bring.”
Taub's console consists of two Neve 8058s refurbished and joined together by veteran Neve specialist Fred Hill. One of the boards came from Brooklyn Bridge, where Taub used it on projects by the Meat Puppets, Double Trouble, Marc Ribot, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Charlie Sexton, Chuck Prophet and others; the second Neve was acquired from an artist manager in Los Angeles. Fewer than 10 such consoles are thought to exist in the world, in such venues as Capitol, Hit Factory Miami, Sunset Sound, RPM, Woodland and Battery London, according to Taub.
Chiccarelli raves about the board: “The Neve sounds amazing,” he says. “Fred Hill did a great job putting it together. It is the exact same console as the 8058 in Capitol Studio B in L.A., which is one of my favorite rooms in the world.”
For Taub, Brooklyn Recording represents more than the pinnacle of his career as a studio owner and engineer. It also embodies the struggle that he and the rest of the New York recording community endured in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
“We were in full construction mode when they closed the Battery Tunnel for six months,” recalls Taub. “The [Brooklyn-Queens Expressway] turned into a huge mess, and our neighborhood became wall-to-wall gridlock. But we got through it.”
Like other Brooklyn Studios, Brooklyn Recording offers a respite from some of the stresses of Manhattan. “The neighborhood is great,” says Taub. “It's close enough [to Manhattan] but still off the path. It's got all of the amenities of being in Midtown without the subway running underneath.”
Despite the tough economic climate and competition from other commercial and home studios, Taub is heartened by the clientele he has attracted and confident of his ability to stay in the game. “I've got to put my best foot forward and deliver stuff that you can't get for the rate,” he says. “This is a nice, aesthetically attractive place. There aren't a lot of places where a band could come in and set up as a band, play and feel like they're in a real place. It's a comfortable room to be in. It's got a lot of windows, and you can sit there for a long period of time without feeling the usual studio fatigue.”
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