From left: Makey Pacius, Ben Arrindell and Oscar Melendez
Sound Clash in New York City is a small but highly agile and versatile audio facility that opened in Manhattan’s Fashion District in 2007. It is the brainchild of three veteran engineers—Ben Arrindell, Oscar Melendez and Makey Pacius—who sought long-term career survival amidst the economic tumult, shrinking budgets and major studio closures of recent years. Melendez and Pacius were formerly on staff at the city’s Unique Recording Studios, while Arrindell (a 2002 Grammy Award winner) worked with such artists as Gerald Levert, Aretha Franklin and Busta Rhymes. Then, Arrindell notes, “Things changed dramatically. The amount of major-label work is not as abundant as it once was.”
Arrindell met Melendez and Pacius through mutual friends. “They were renting a small vocal room,” Arrindell says. “They subleased, and the landlord asked them if they wanted to take over the entire space, which they did, but they didn’t have that much equipment. At the time, I had just bought a Sony DMX-R100 and I was working at my cousin’s house doing mixing. They were like, ‘Hey, do you want to get out of your cousin’s basement? Let’s open up a studio,’ which is something I thought I’d never do.” [Laughs.]
Sound Clash’s myriad services include recording, mixing, mastering, video sync, vocal production/artist development, original production music, custom sound sets and an online mixing service. “We cater to the independent client,” Arrindell explains. “The rent here in New York is astronomical so you need [to cultivate] other streams of revenue. We want to be able to sell artists’ music on our Website so that we can get publishing and own partial copyrights. We do a lot of mixtape work and demos that people put out independently.”
Sound Clash’s modest equipment setup includes the DMX-R100, two Mac G5s stocked with soft synths, Pro Tools HD2 and LE systems, mics from Neumann and Shure, and a Focusrite ISA428 mic pre. “I am not a fan of mixing in the box,” Arrindell says. “We have 32 outputs coming out of Pro Tools directly into the console.” He also prefers hardware effects units: “I’ve got a dbx 120XP, a [Lexicon] PCM 91 and SPL gear.”
For artists and labels seeking discounted rates, Sound Clash offers two types of studio membership agreements. “If we like your song or project enough, maybe we’ll do it on spec and hope to get some sort of money back from it once you start selling it,” Arrindell adds. Additionally, Sound Clash offers Pro Tools instruction, a self-service vocal recording booth and a rehearsal space for bands. “We have a 24-channel Mackie mixer, a Pearl drum set, mics and a P.A. system in there,” he says.
“There are projects out there, but you’ve got to hustle for them,” Arrindell concludes. “Sometimes it’s a headache, sometimes it’s blissful, but you just keep doing whatever you can and try to make it work. It’s really about trying to help people envision their dreams and get their music out there.”