Rob Fraboni & The Origins of RealFeel

MAMARONECK, NY: “I got really lucky,” Rob Fraboni admits, “and didn’t have to do a lot of stuff that a lot of people had to do coming up. I had a lot of electronics experience and started out as a musician, so I had a lot going for me in that respect. But I got really lucky: most everything I got to do turned out to be of some significance.”

Such an admission could fairly be called an understatement.

With a combination of talent and timing, Fraboni — producer, engineer, onetime label executive and, most recently, proprietor of Real Mastering in Mamaroneck, 20 miles from Midtown — has indeed helped to birth of an extraordinary number of momentous recordings.

Concurrent with Real Mastering’s launch is the development of his proprietary RealFeel software (see below). Given the wealth of classic artists among his discography, this project is an apt metaphor for a brilliant career: RealFeel, he explains, “turns digital back into analog.”

THE RECORD PLANT TO THE VILLAGE & BEYOND: THE ROAD TO REAL

It’s hard to imagine today, but there was a time when New York City had not only telephone booths, but telephone books within them. “I just went to the phone booth,” the Southern California native recalls, “and called the first three studios alphabetically. I’d just moved here, and the second place I called was A-1, [Atlantic Records founder] Herb Abramson’s place. He said ‘Come talk to me,’ and hired me right there. I started the next day. And when I took an Institute for Audio Research class, Dennis Ferrante was in the class and he worked at the Record Plant [in Times Square]. He suggested applying at the Record Plant.”

During Fraboni's LA years, he engineered on The Beach Boys' 1973 album, Holland.

He did, and was hired. “Jack Adams befriended me and we became very close friends,” Fraboni recalls. “Roy Cicala was the chief engineer. There was Jimmy Iovine, Jay Messina, Shelly Yakus, Jack Douglas and myself. Jack Douglas graduated from second engineer to engineer about three months after I started. Allen Ginsburg came in to do a record the first or second week I worked there, and John Lennon and Bob Dylan were there, which was amazing. At my age!”

That stint at Record Plant represents the only time in his career that he served as an assistant engineer (he concurrently held a second gig at Advantage Sound). On a visit home to southern California, Fraboni went to The Village in West L.A. “When I was a kid, I used to hitchhike to Hollywood and go in the back door of Gold Star [Recording] and watch sessions,” he recalls. “I got to see Phil Spector work, and all kinds of people. [Gold Star engineer] Doc Siegel befriended me and started inviting me to sessions, and we got to know each other.

“I had always wanted to work at the Village,” he continues. “All the other studios were in Hollywood, and the Village was just a cool place. I had seen an ad in Billboard and Doc’s picture was in there. I went by there and filled out an application. I went back to New York, and two weeks later they called: ‘If you’re willing to take the chief of maintenance job, you’ve got a job.’ I thought what the hell, and did it. Three months later, I was the chief engineer.”

In the fall of 1995, Keith Richards and Rob Fraboni recorded "Wingless Angels" in Jamaica.

A systems design class taken at the Institute for Audio Research was to come in handy. “They had bought a new Quad 8 console, and my job was to install it in Studio C. I had never done this before. I locked myself in a friend’s apartment for three days and nobody could find me, and did all the run sheets and the whole thing, and it worked perfectly. It was after that that Geordie [Hormel, late owner of the Village] made me the chief engineer.”

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  • I just spoke with Roy Cicala, which is living in São Paulo-Brazil, and we were talking about Mr. Fraboni and his incredible accomplishments… Kudos for your piece!
    Best,

    Zé Luis

  • I just spoke with Roy Cicala, which is living in São Paulo-Brazil, and we were talking about Mr. Fraboni and his incredible accomplishments… Kudos for your piece!
    Best,

    Zé Luis

  • carl carlyle

    HI ROB:

    My name is Carl Carlyle. I’m in L.A.. My producer is getting money to produce my musical. When the money comes in from the investors my producer and I would be honored to re-do the tracks of my musical with you in your studio. I worked many years ago with a singer named Pamela Fraboni in Hollywood. Pam recorded some of my songs. I believe she was connected to Gold Star with a recording engineer named Paul Ring who recorded my stuff back then. If it is possible to record my musical at Real Mastering, I would very much like Pam to do some vocals. That is if she is a relative of yours. Your studio looks great. Tom, my producer saw the photos and he agrees with me. I hope when the investment money comes in to be blessed to work with you. CARL CARLYLE 818-368-8815

  • carl carlyle

    HI ROB:

    My name is Carl Carlyle. I’m in L.A.. My producer is getting money to produce my musical. When the money comes in from the investors my producer and I would be honored to re-do the tracks of my musical with you in your studio. I worked many years ago with a singer named Pamela Fraboni in Hollywood. Pam recorded some of my songs. I believe she was connected to Gold Star with a recording engineer named Paul Ring who recorded my stuff back then. If it is possible to record my musical at Real Mastering, I would very much like Pam to do some vocals. That is if she is a relative of yours. Your studio looks great. Tom, my producer saw the photos and he agrees with me. I hope when the investment money comes in to be blessed to work with you. CARL CARLYLE 818-368-8815

  • It is an amazing process and Rob is a sound genius. Our record “Come Over” has Real Feel on it and it made an amazing difference. http://www.dfjbmusic.com

  • moonman

    N.O.Moonman….I knew you would come up with something. Still got the hdcd you gave me ages ago, b4 re-fazin’ the Boiler Room.