John Parks created the “ultimate classroom” for himself when he launched St. Claire Recording, a new one-room facility in Lexington, Ky. The 7,800-square-foot hideaway — with nearly 4,000 reserved for the studio — nestled on 14 acres of land features a tracking room with four iso booths and reportedly one of the largest control rooms ever built by Martin Pilchner of Toronto-based Pilchner & Schoustal: large enough to hold up to 10 musicians standing side-by-side. “If you're really under the gun, you don't want to be in a cramped environment,” says Parks, a percussionist, budding engineer and Kentucky native who spent a brief time working in Nashville before returning home to open his own studio.
An 80-input SSL 9000J console (pictured) and Pro Tools|HD3 Accel take up some of that control room space, as does St. Claire's multiple racks of outboard gear, which include vintage pieces from API, Neve, UREI and Teletronix, as well as newer gadgets from Little Labs and Groove Tubes, among others. The studio's surround setup includes a Pilchner-Schoustal — designed Max Monitor System and pairs of ADAM S3A and Auratone monitors.
After spending the winter and early spring testing out the facility, Parks plans to attract a mix of national and regional acts. “There's a lot of talent in this part of the country; not just in Kentucky, but Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia — I wanted them to be able to stay close to home, in an area of the country that they're more akin to.” And with on-site guest accommodations, he hopes to create a relaxed “bed and breakfast” atmosphere that's conducive to creativity. “We want to put Kentucky on the map,” he says. “It's postcard-picture perfect here; there's quite a bit of southern hospitality, but it's not so backwoods. I see my mom baking cookies for our clients. We try to go above and beyond the call of duty wherever we can. Whether you're small beans or the big enchilada, you'll be our only focus for the duration of your project.”