WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, July 22, 2014 — New York City has lots of recording studios — the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn alone reportedly has 60 or more. But Mitch Cox hadn’t found one that catered to heavy metal and hard rock the way the aspiring record producer and entrepreneur wanted to, so he set out to build one. “When you’re designing a studio for maximum flexibility, to try to please everyone, you make design and equipment choices based on that, and those are inevitably compromises,” says Cox, “In this studio [Conclave Studios], we made design and equipment choices around the classic metal sounds.” Assisting Cox in his vision has been Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro), the outside sales division of Guitar Center that focuses on the needs of professional users. Conclave Studios came about around a meeting between Cox and Milo Pullman, a GC Pro Account Manager working out of Guitar Center’s Union Square store location. After listening to Cox’s vision for his studio and his business, Pullman suggested a meeting with Horacio Malvicino, a noted recording studio designer and a GC Pro Affiliate Program member. Within a matter of weeks, what had been Cox’s vision suddenly had a team to build it. After several months of searching, they found a former recording studio on the far edge of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, in a massive, glass-walled building overlooking the Hudson River.
Horacio Malvicino – whose Malvicino Design Group has done nearly two dozen studio designs as an Affiliate of GC Pro, including Live’s new Think Loud residential facility in York, Pennsylvania, the newly completed Seven Pillars near Abilene, Texas, and Noisematch Studios in Miami, saw Conclave Studios as a unique task – “It’s always a challenge designing a facility in a big city, where isolation and sound control are critical. Especially,” he adds, “if you’re talking about heavy metal music.” The overarching lesson that Malvicino took away from his research comes down to a single word: diffusion. Custom-made diffusors line the wall and ceiling of the 22x14-foot recording room, which also features acoustical clouds suspended from the ceiling with absorptive inserts, controlling flutter reflections between the floor and ceiling; the room also has reversible panels that have absorptive material on one side and reflective surfaces on the others, providing variable acoustics that let the room’s inherent reverb time vary between 0.7 and 0.95 seconds. (Not a huge range, says Malvicino, but enough for the type of music the room is intended for.)
As Malvicino worked on the studio’s design, he also consulted with Cox, Lagudi and Pullman on what technologies to include in the studio. While there’s gear in there that any recording pro would appreciate – including Focusrite and Midas mic preamps, dbx and Empirical Labs compressors, and a microphone closet filled with names like Sennheiser, AKG, Neumann and Audio-Technica – there’s plenty of digital real estate, too, including an Avid Pro Tools HD Native system and plug-ins from Waves, Antares, Sonnox and Metric-Halo. And although they looked at vintage consoles, the team decided on something more modern for the 23x18-foot control room: a 24-channel Neve Genesys desk with 1073 pre-amps, 1084 EQs and Encore automation with Total Recall. Monitoring is handled by two Genelec 1037C Tri-amplified Monitors for mains and Yamaha NS10's for nearfields.
Cox, who is driven and was tracking within days after the facility’s completion, cites the studio’s dbx and Empirical Labs compressors, which he says give metal and hard rock drums and guitars their edge. Conclave Studios offers Cox’s interpretation of a metalhead’s dream signal chain, starting with a Peavey 6505 amp head through a Mesa Boogie 4x12 cabinet. But he’s not dogmatic about it. “We just want to become the center of metal here,” he states. “It’s not about making money; it’s about the music, so we’re here to accommodate whatever these artists need and what best suits their sound.”
Cox appreciates the input he’s gotten from Pullman and GC Pro. “They’re exceptionally knowledgeable and flexible, but what I especially like is that they stay with you,” he says. “They understand that the process of building a studio from the ground up is a long-term relationship and requires patience. If someone’s just trying to sell you a product, that’s not going to work. So much of this was working through all the details and nuances of the design. That’s what Milo and Horacio did.”
For more information, please visit www.gcpro.com.