Quad Recording has been a fixture on the New York scene for 22years. When Lou Gonzales first opened the facility (to record a SesameStreet album-he engineered and contributed kazoo parts), the businessclimate in the Apple was far different from what it is today. Inparticular, decisions regarding console installation involved a whollydistinct set of parameters. Studios tended to build their own boards,and the freelance engineering business was not a factor. "Engineers hadto learn how to use one particular board or design concept," Gonzalessays, "and it wasn't so easy for them to hop between studios."
The standardization of consoles by SSL, Neve and others has changedthings dramatically. Now Gonzales is taking the next step, havingsigned a deal with SSL that will make Quad's Studio B the first room inthe country to offer an Axiom-MT. The stakes are high-if you'd like afully loaded Axiom-MT, be prepared to shake your jeans to the tune ofalmost a million bucks. Although his decision to purchase the new boardputs him in uncharted waters, Gonzales was relaxed and amiable the daywe met.
Gonzales has been studying the digital console market for severalyears, and he believes that one of the Axiom-MT's design features setsit apart from the competition and will allow Quad to book Studio Benough to turn the board into a money maker. "The big hoopla about thisboard is its resettability," Gonzales says. "The console lets a mixersegue between different songs effortlessly. Let's say you're mixingsong B and the producer walks in wanting to hear song A. In today'sworld you'd have to spend an hour-and-a-half to bring that song online,and then you'd eventually have to spend the same amount of time puttingsong B back to the point where you left it. With the Axiom-MT, all youhave to do is execute a few keystrokes and either tune is exactly whereyou left it. That's a big advantage for album work-there will be nomore staring at a monitor and matching EQs. This instant recall is thefeature that sets the Axiom-MT apart from every other digital consoleon the market, and believe me, I researched them all."
Quad is known for its work in the hip hop and contemporary R&Bfields, and Gonzales confirmed that engineers working these styles areparticularly adventurous. "They want to get their hands on as manytricks as they can," he says, "and I'm sure that this board willattract hip hop artists and engineers to Quad." Gonzales adds that Quadis also attracting more rock sessions, and he plans on building up thatarea of the business as well.
The Axiom-MT is a 96-channel surround sound-ready board. Everycontrol is dynamically automated, and there are 48 multitrack, 12 mainmix and 12 aux buses, as well as over 200 mix returns. Gonzales alsostresses the fact that Quad currently owns a pair of SSL 9000 Jconsoles, which will interface neatly with the Axiom-MT. The newconsole will keep Quad several steps ahead of the project studioenvironment, to say the least.
Suffern, N.Y, is a funky town-I can say that 'cause I went to highschool there and played for coach Jerry Magurno, just as Walt Weiss didafter me. (Why Weiss made it to the big leagues instead of me remains amystery.) Spyro Gyra's Jay Beckenstein liked Suffern enough that in1982 he built himself a studio there-Bear Tracks-along with hispartner, the late Rich Calandra. Business has grown steadily over theyears, and today the studio handles a wide array of major labelprojects. When Mix checked in recently, Beckenstein was tracking hisnext album at Bear Tracks, with help from engineer Doug Oberkircher,who lives next door to the studio and has tracking facilities at hisplace as well.
Beckenstein brought in a horn section to play on the new album, andthese backing parts were originally tracked to Oberkircher's ADAT rig.Bear Tracks general manager Phil Brennan says that Beckenstein and crewhave extremely high standards regarding the sound on tape of hornperformances; the ADAT recordings did not yield the sound they werelooking for, and so it was on to plan B, which involved recutting thehorn section to an Ensoniq PARIS digital recording system.
According to Brennan, everyone associated with the session wasextremely pleased with the sonic quality of the PARIS recordings, aswell as the ease of its operations. Brennan says that Bear Tracks willbe making a decision regarding the purchase of a hard disk recordingsystem in the near future. "The final contenders are PARIS and ProTools," he says. "PARIS has a lot of pluses-it sounds sumptuous and isvery cost-effective. Pro Tools has the third-party plug-in market, andthat continues to be attractive as well. Ensoniq claims that itsrelationship with third-party plug-in manufacturers is growing, and wehope that's the case. Jay really felt that PARIS captured the essenceof what the horn section sounded like. As a business decision, Ibelieve that a hard disk recording system is essential for any studiothat wants to attract clients in the metropolitan area."