Bennett Studios Closes

September 12, 2011 by  

Bennett Studios, the Englewood, NJ headquarters of  GRAMMY-winning engineer Dae Bennett, has closed after a decade of music, media and post production.

The North live room of Bennett Studios.

A large-scale operation in a relatively small-town setting just minutes away from the George Washington Bridge, the converted 100-year-old Victorian railroad station housed two world-class rooms in the Neve VR60-equipped North Studio and SSL4080 South Studio.

Although the facility was often bustling with activity for elite artists including Trey Anastasio, Rob Thomas, Teddy Riley, k.d. lang, and – of course – Tony Bennett – ultimately the one-two punch of escalating overhead and shrinking major label budgets proved too costly for Bennett Studios to overcome.

“I’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and I’ve been through many ups and downs,” Dae Bennett said. “The economic downturn, combined with the collapse of the music industry, was a little more than I could get through. We managed to stay busy, but the industry itself isn’t trending well.

“We tried to hold the rates as much as we could, but the costs keep increasing,” Bennett continued. “The energy costs have literally doubled over the last three years. Without the record companies being interested in records anymore, the math doesn’t add up.”

Bennett applied “a little poetry” in curtailing operations on September 6, 2011 – ten years to the day after the Andy Munro-designed studios opened its doors. The facility went out in style, hosting the entirety of mixing and editing for Tony Bennett’s “Duets II”, the highly anticipated album from Dae’s universally respected father which features pairings with Andrea Bocelli, Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, Willie Nelson, the late Amy Winehouse (in her final recording) and many more. Michael Bublé and Josh Groban tracked their songs for the record, which will be released September 20th, at Bennett Studios.

The closing puts four full-time staffers out of work, and leaves NYC’s area freelance engineers and artists with one less resource for large-scale, world-class tracking and mixing. “We were one of the last facilities in the tri-state area with the space to do the kind of projects we did here,” Bennett notes.

A 30-year veteran at running recording facilities – he previously helmed New Jersey’s Hillside Sound Studio – Bennett will continue to maintain his focus on engineering, working on select recordings as well as an ongoing regimen of location and TV post production projects.

The rooms in Englewood may have gone dark, but the sense of optimism and adventure with which Bennett lighted them is worthy of note. As much a laboratory for adaptive music industry ideas as it was an audio facility, Bennett Studios will be missed by the many artists and sound professionals who had the opportunity to work there. “18 records from here won GRAMMY Awards, and one of them won an Emmy,” Dae Bennett concludes. “I’m very proud of the accomplishments here.”

– David Weiss

  • Rebecca

    Very sad . I loved my experience recording there and made the best album Ive ever made . Best of luck to Dae and all the people that worked there . Rebecca Barnard x

  • http://www.noramccarthy.com Nora McCarthy

    I recorded my first CD there, red&blue, I will never forget it, it was a beautiful experience and the sound of the CD is very unique and incredible.  Nora McCarthy

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jerry-Simpson/1303410525 Jerry Simpson

    Very sad to see another studio close their doors and being one of the greats in the recording business. Here in Nashville, many studios are having tough times staying in operation.  Not only does this of course put many well known people out of work, but at the same time artist loose a place where they can still go and record that warm sound that only some of the older mixers and recording equjipment can create.  People have found out that even today, a well mixed CD still doesn’t have the quality of a well mixed LP.  Once again history is being lost and the creation of that unique sound is also being lost at the same time. Best of luck to all of you… Jerry Simpson 

  • http://twitter.com/TonySmithonSax Tony Smith

    I was sad to hear about this great studio closing. It had that special warm feel to it once you walked through the doors. I recorded my latest CD there and since then recommended many other artists to record there. Dae is a great man to work with and my engineer of choice there Dave Kowalski was a joy to work with for hours on end. As other posts state here, we are loosing the history of recording the right way. Bennett had one of the largest “live” rooms around and had a direct recording link to a performance theater right down the street. When Tony Bennett releases Duets II make sure to support the project as the last great piece of work to come from that wonderful studio. All the best to you Dae and your family…. A loyal supporter….Tony Smith

  • Audio Craft Recording Studios

    This is scary to hear about!!!  It’s showing that the word ‘Professional’ doesn’t have a definition any longer; All the great temples of sound are gone, and the VERY few that are left are heading down-hill to their demise…Aside from the entire music industry taking a nose-dive it also comes down to not wanting to spend $$$ any longer for a professional product…This is also due to the companies that manufacture crap which they call studio equipment, and the marketing schemes that they use to convince artists that they can do professional recording right in the comfort of their own bedroom or basement…I honestly can’t believe the arrogance of the CEO’s from the manufacturers of this digital junk to falsely convince people that they are doing ‘Professional’ recording…The beginning of my industry’s demise goes all the way back to the late 70′s when Tascam (a division of Teac) was producing inferior recording equipment that was a very slight step above consumer level and was very cheap…People were actually opening basement studios one after the other all over the place using this equipment and charging rates as low as $10 per hour…People’s ears started to become polluted long before digital and the MP3 was even heard of, due to the lack of poor signal to noise ratio and lack of headroom with this equipment…Even though it was analog equipment which still sounds better than digital, it was still inferior to professional equipment used in ‘Professional studios…However, the word ‘cheap’, ‘cost-effective’, ‘economical’ or whatever the words of choice out of the game of semantics are used, it still couldn’t compare to the real high end equipment that was sold to ‘select’ studios…There was a reason why an AMPEX 2 inch 16 track tape machine cost $60,000 as opposed to $2,000 for a one inch Tascam 16 track deck…You paid for the ultimate quality so you could offer your clients the ultimate in sound…Sadly, this no longer counts; it’s all about making a cheap record, and quick, in order to make it available for download…Engineering skills are suffering, the schools of recording aren’t teaching the ‘art’ of engineering properly, nor completely…The new kids on the block don’t know how the equipment really works under the hood…they just know how to click a mouse and barely operate it…A once lucrative and prestigious profession is going to the wayside along with everything else in society…Our industry is slowly darkening as one studio after another is shutting it’s doors…Frank Ferraro–Audio Craft Recording Studios…

  • Tim Horner

    This is all very sad news. I recorded as a sideman on many CDs for many years @ Bennett and always really enjoyed my experience there. The sounds, the people, the engineers, the professionalism and the quality as a whole was always top notch and I want to thank Dae and all of the staff at Bennett for everything they constantly tried their best to create. This is just another part in the downfall and hard times of the creative music industry as a whole in the US and it is very sad. I know we as creative people will always persevere and get our music out and I’m sure on a very high level but as these studios go, so goes great parts of our history that have to be recreated in some way. I hope we can only continue to do so. We will miss you Dae, Dave Kowalski, Roman and everyone else that made that place bubble and boil !!!

  • Andy Bassford

    This is heartbreaking news. I cut basic tracks live with a large band at Bennett, and got fantastic sounds quickly at a very reasonable cost. It was a wonderful facility with superb staff and I had planned to go back there in the future.

  • zac

     A real loss for musicians in NY Metro area.  I was always impressed by the availability of high quality equipment and skilled recording engineers.  And, I was always treated well by the friendly and knowledgeable staff.  I don’t want to think about recording alternatives because as other posters have noted, the belief that basement recordings handled by unskilled staff are an acceptable substitute for professionally prepared materials doesn’t bode well for either musicians or the music industry.

  • Mar

    All I can say is wooooowwww…. I’m crushed. Recorded several tracks there with Dae and Johnnie. A superb team and a superb space. I wanted to do more. Put it this way, when you walk into a studio and the first thing you see is five (at the time) Grammys and an Emmy on the wall, you know you’re in the right place. I was emailing them to congratulate them on the Duets II CD and I get an auto email back telling me he’s closed. If they can’t make it, who the hell can?

  • Baroxael

    I hope.I can get ro record here after the fact if there ever is a comeback,for Tony Bennet is one of my childhood heroes.

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  • Jim Stagnitto

    Heartbroken to hear of this studio’s closing.  What a fantastic place and fantastic people – you will be sorely missed!

  • Teeteebe93

    I am so sad to hear about this!  I am a grammy award lyricist and teacher in a New Jersey private music school.  We used to do our recitals at Bennett Studios!  I told my boss and his comment to me (and one I will share with you is……) We need to keep the music alive!  That statement we on time for me, as specially after the death of Whitney Houston (also a native of New Jersey)……..Keep the Music Alive!!!! No one can take that away from us!