Studio Makers Spotlight: Francis Manzella Design

March 16, 2014 by  

Ears of experience pay off.

Francis Manzella hears where his clients are coming from.

Francis Manzella hears where you’re coming from.

Designers operating at the level of Francis Manzella – Fran to his friends – create world-class sound facilities following decades of hard-won knowhow. But making studios like Manzella’s calls for more than just putting in time. It calls for artistry, intuition, architectural mastery, and an innate love of audio.

From the freshly minted Guilford Sound in Vermont, to New Jersey’s the Barber Shop, Sterling Sound to the enlightened 25th Street Recording in Oakland, Manzella’s portfolio is as inspiring to view as it is to listen to.

Get inside the mind of a studio architect and speaker builder who craves the chance to push boundaries – always in the name of achieving his clients’ desired sonic signatures.

Firm Name:  Francis Manzella Design Ltd.


Location: Mahopac, NY

Cornerstone: 1992

Room to go live at Guilford Sound, in Guilford, Vermont.

Room to go live at Guilford Sound, in Guilford, Vermont.

Founding Father: I have a background in the recording studio business as an engineer, technical engineer and chief engineer at Skyline studios for almost 10 years.

During that time, Skyline grew quite a bit and I was involved in the design and construction of three studios there. I found this work rewarding and when other clients started to ask me to help them build studios my first design company was formed.

In 1992, I left Skyline to pursue studio design and acoustics fulltime and started FM Design. I continue to find this work interesting, rewarding

and I love the opportunity to travel and meet “studio folks” from around the world.

I feel very lucky to do what I enjoy every day. You know what they say: Do what you enjoy for a living and you never work a day in your life!

Studio X, The Studio at The Palms, Las Vegas

Studio X, The Studio at The Palms, Las Vegas

Specializing In: We handle music recording, mastering, post production, educational and broadcast production studios regularly.

We also work on acoustic and technical design for restaurants, conference rooms, nightclubs and I’ve actually had the opportunity to design a very modern nightclub over in Tbilisi (Republic or Georgia) recently from the ground up. This project included working with some very talented sub-consultants on video, stage lighting and specialty installations including interior illuminated waterfalls and 3D video projection.

We are always looking to stretch our limits and do new types of work. I always tell people, if it involves great sound, then I’m interested!

Design Philosophy: The biggest dictate at FM Design is that each project is unique. We resolve to seek out solutions for each client that meet their needs, wants and budget. We are always looking at new solutions and techniques to broaden our design palette.

Although we do have a basic philosophy about control room design guided by strong consideration of modal response, early reflection control and generous amounts of full bandwidth bass trapping, we always look at each project as a unique challenge.

I try to let the venue and the client’s aesthetic sensibility guide us through the preliminary conceptualization. I often assign “homework” and ask new clients to assemble photos of spaces (or things) that they are attracted to aesthetically and tell me what it is they like about these photos. They don’t have to be studios and actually we are better served when they are not.

I’ve designed studios in 100-year-old post and beam barns, churches that had been converted into a dance club, a casino hotel and a Star Trek-inspired studio in a non descript commercial building in NJ.

Of course there are elements that appear in many of our designs because they work! Visually a studio can look like almost anything as long as we can stretch fabric over it. We’ve done very clean contemporary minimalistic designs, and also very “old school” wood paneled rooms. It’s all about the customers’ vision, the needs and their budget.

For live recording spaces, we once again try and respond to the clients lead. If a particular client is doing an analog retro studio, they probably are going to be attracted to larger live spaces. Other clients will have other recording sensibilities, and we will try to give them the acoustic palette they are looking for in the recording spaces.

In general I like to do mid-to large-sized live rooms with a variety of isolation booths offering a range of acoustic signatures. This gives a (commercial) studio a broad range of acoustic environments to fit the needs of a wide range of clients.

The control room at 25th Street Recording, Oakland.

The control room at 25th Street Recording, Oakland.

Select Portfolio:

Sterling Sound NYC

The Studio at The Palms, Las Vegas

Guilford Sound, VT

The Barber Shop, NJ

Masterdisk NYC

25 Street Recording, Oakland

Dallas Audio Post

Life Studios, Rome,  private studio for recording artist Gigi D’Alessio

Forward Studios, Rome

The live room for Life Studios in Rome, a private facility for artist Gigi D'Allessio.

The live room for Life Studios in Rome, a private facility for artist Gigi D’Allessio.

Facility Focus: I want to go back a couple of years to 25 Street Recording in Oakland. What was interesting and somewhat unique about this project is that the owner, David Lichtenstein, wanted to do a very analog, large retro studio. So many projects just don’t even consider large live rooms anymore these days.

He is a drummer who has a background as an engineer and producer and he has a vast collection of equipment, instruments and mics. He wanted to build one large studio to put all his “stuff” into and offer something that just wasn’t really available in the Bay Area anymore: analog recording in a large great sounding live room, with an analog-heavy, large control room that also sounds awesome. I would have to say that we succeeded in achieving these results.

The project went through a long search for a suitable venue. When Dave finally located the old auto shop in downtown Oakland, we immediately saw a great potential to do a truly world class project. The console selection process was long and thorough and Dave finally selected the API Vision with ATC 5.1 main monitoring.

We also spent a lot of time with Dave and the contractor (Dennis Stearns builders) identifying and locating unique sustainable and recycled materials for the project including all the wood flooring, which in a previous life was bleachers at a nearby stadium.

He’s really got a great place that just feels like you are recording in the ‘80′s except it’s also fully digital capable and sounds way better than most of the control rooms from that era, and has almost any toy or classic instrument you can ask for. The place has been very well received and is loved by engineer/producers who have had an opportunity to work there.

Expansive -- Dallas Audio Post

Expansive — Dallas Audio Post

The Team:

FM Design is: Francis Manzella – Principal and Owner, Bill Seegmuller – Senior designer and architect, Lars Tofastrud – Senior acoustician, designer and Partner in Griffin Audio USA, Roberto Rosu – European Sales Rep (and HVAC specialist!).

In 2004 Lars and I formalized a new partnership and formed Griffin Audio USA. Griffin provides high end custom studio loudspeakers for the recording and media industries. We offer systems ranging from our midfield G2B, which is a dual 8″ 2-way with a 4″ ribbon tweeter, up to our flagship G1A that is an 18″ 3-Way system with an 8″ Ribbon Super-Tweeter capable of extremely high output, low distortion playback including a full DSP processing package and custom Griffin amplifiers based on ICEPower high efficiency technology. Griffin also offers 15″ and 18″ Subwoofers to complete surround systems or add extra low octave support in larger systems. Griffin systems are installed in projects around the world including Life studio – Rome, Canoa Studio – Lisbon, The Studio at The Palms in Las Vegas, 2 Hard Records – Kingston Jamaica, Manhattan Center Studio in NYC, and The Barber Shop in NJ.

Some great contractors we have worked with include: Sonic Construction (NJ), Audio Structures (NY) and Dennis Stearns Builders (No Cal).

Ted Jensen's room at Masterdisk, NYC.

Ted Jensen’s room at Sterling Sound, NYC.


Visit the “Testimonials” page on our Website for quotes.

The Barbershop in Hopatcong, NJ, is home to an SSL 9000K in the Manzella-designed Studio A.

The Barbershop in Hopatcong, NJ, is home to an SSL 9000K in the Manzella-designed Studio A.

Biggest Beef: I wish everybody would REMEMBER the Golden Triangle of service. You can have it great, fast or cheap… pick two!

Dream Project: I have been so privileged to work with many great recording folks, artists and producers, that I don’t want to slight any of them by saying there’s somebody else… but…if I had to pick someone I would love to have a chance to work with it would be George Martin. He has done so much innovative work, that I’m sure it would be enlightening to do any type of project involving him. Imagine doing the personal studio for such a visionary. That would be a treat.

– Francis Manzella, President & Principal Designer, Francis Manzella Design

Music made here: outside Life Studios in Rome.

Music made here: outside Life Studios in Rome.

The control room at Life Studios.

The control room at Life Studios.

An all-discreet 64input API Legacy is at the center of the control room at Guilford Sound.

An all-discreet 64input API Legacy is at the center of the control room at Guilford Sound.


Another view of the Guilford control room.

Another view of the Guilford control room.

Mixes made here: Dallas Audio Post

Mixes made here: Dallas Audio Post

A DAP studio.

A DAP studio.

The control room of Studio Y at The Studio at The Palms, Las Vegas.

The control room of Studio Y at The Studio at The Palms, Las Vegas.

And the live room for Studio X at The Studio at The Palms, Las Vegas.

And the live room for Studio X at The Studio at The Palms, Las Vegas.

Unwind after a session at The Palms..

Unwind after a session at The Palms.

Relax in Greg Calbi's lounge at Masterdisk.

Relax in Greg Calbi’s lounge at Sterling Sound.

Approaching the Barbershop, set inside a 100+ year-old church

Approaching the Barbershop, set inside a 100+ year-old church.

Cathedral ceilings distinguish the Studio A live room.

Cathedral ceilings distinguish the Studio A live room.

The 25th Street live room.

The 25th Street live room.

An airy look and feel prevails at 25th Street.

An airy look and feel prevails at 25th Street.

Plus places to get in the (musical) mood.

Plus places to get in the (musical) mood.

Session Buzz – New Records In The Works Around NYC

July 25, 2013 by  

Summertime is not the super busiest time for recording studios; bands are out touring and playing festivals, and business overall slows a bit. But still, if you ask around (and we did), plenty of projects were just getting started if not just wrapping up over these longest days of the year.

Producer/engineer Chris Shaw mixed some vintage Bob Dylan over at Strange Weather Recording in Williamsburg – that is, he mixed “Bob Dylan, Live at the Isle of Wight 1969”, as part of a Bootleg Series. Also at Strange Weather, Daniel James Schlett finished mixing the new Amen Dunes record for Sacred Bones, as Marc Alan Goodman started work on the new Analog Rebellion record.

Joan Osborne and Bill Evans at Grand Street Recording

Joan Osborne and Bill Sims at Grand Street Recording

Speaking of Dylan, NYC blues legend Bill Sims has been putting some of the finishing touches on his album of Bob Dylan tunes, with Joan Osborne laying down some soulful vocals on “I Shall Be Released”, over at Grand Street Recording in Williamsburg. Ken Rich engineered the session and is co-producing the album with Ethan Eubanks.

Also at Grand Street… singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson tracked drums for a few of her upcoming songs with drummer Elliot Jacobson, producer Chris Kuffner, engineer Ken Rich and Jake Lummus assisting. The team made use of the studio’s 60′s Ludwig 24×14 kick and matching toms, along with a vintage Black Beauty snare and an oddball 1920s era 15″ brass snare….Diane Birch recorded and mixed a couple songs for her upcoming album with Tomek Miernowski… and composer DB Shapiro recorded and mixed his newest album with Ken Rich engineering and producing. Rich mixed down to ½” tape at 30ips on Grand Street’s new Studer A80RC MKII tape machine, monitoring on the new ATC SCM25a monitors recently purchased from Audio Power Tools.

Prior to Fun.’s summer tour, guitarist Jack Antonoff was recording over at Mission Sound (also in Williamsburg) recording for his new project for RCA, with John Hill producing. And this month, producer Chris Goss is at Mission, cutting tracks for Pure Love. Mission’s own Oliver Straus will be engineering.

Kanye West locked out Studios 1 and 2 at Germano Studios in NoHo to record/mix tracks for Yeezus, with engineers Noah Goldstein and Anthony Kilhoffer, and producers Mike Dean and Hudson Mohawke. Following Kanye, Lauryn Hill moved into Germano for several weeks, working on new material with engineer Graham Marsh for Sony Music. Meanwhile, Dream Theater was in to mix their new eponymous full-length album, with Richard Chycki engineering; Yoko Ono worked on her new album with Sean Lennon producing; Universal France artist Emilie Simon mixed new material with producer/engineer Chris Coady; Tiësto was recording in Studio 2 and pop artist Moxie was in Studio 1 recording with Dan Glashausser for Capitol Records.

Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and renowned jazz guitarist Julian Lage are working on an album together, and recorded at Sear Sound in Midtown – tracking with Chris Allen at the Neve 8038. British soul singer/songwriter Liam Bailey tracked a new album through that Neve as well, with Jimmy Douglass at the controls, and Salaam Remi producing for Sony Masterworks.

In other Sear sessions…Ian Axel’s new project “A Great Big World” recorded some new tracks for their Epic Records debut, with Dan Romer producing and Ted Tuthill engineering; The Public Theater tracked and mixed the music for Shakespeare In The Park‘s production of “Comedy Of Errors”, with Gary Maurer engineering and Greg Pliska producing; James Farber mixed some new music by The Gypsy Kings; and work for the “50 Shades!” musical began, with Matt Pierson producing and Chris Allen engineering.

Brooklyn dream pop band Elysian Fields mixed their upcoming album with producer/mixer Mark Plati at his East Village studio, Alice’s Restaurant. Plati also recently mixed projects for Swiss singer/songwriter Bastian Baker and Benji Hughes. All three records were mixed on Alice’s Restaurant’s Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console with Shadowmix faders, and mastered by Tom Durack. Notable outboard used on these projects includes the Burl B2 Bomber ADC and DAC; Thermionic Culture Phoenix, Retro 176 and LA-2A Tube compression/limiting; various API 500 series EQs; and plug-ins by UAD and SoundToys

Cerebral Ballzy

Cerebral Ballzy

Brooklyn punk band Cerebral Ballzy tracked a new song at Saltlands in DUMBO, with James Iha producing, and Arjun Agerwala engineering (assisted by Pete Wells).

Also at Saltlands… J Matthew Smith mixed sessions from tape for the 30th Anniversary re-release of veteran funk artist Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame for Tummy Touch Records; the band Noble Hunter recorded a live set for Lambkini’s “Behind The Glass” video series; and Jon Patrick Walker & the Guilty Party tracked and mixed new material with Josh Kaufman producing, and J Matthew Smith engineering.

Trey Songz released his new single “Sensational” earlier this month – the track was recorded, mixed and mastered at Engine Room Audio in lower Manhattan. The single was produced by Troy Taylor, recorded and mixed by Anthony Daniel and mastered by Mark B. Christensen.

Christensen also recently mastered: Albert Einstein, the second studio album by rapper Prodigy (of Mobb Deep) and producer, The Alchemist, featuring appearances by Roc Marciano, Raekwon, Action Bronson and more; and Ron Isley’s new album, This Song is for You, which came out last week on eOne Music. And Boston band Gentlemen Hall mastered their new track “Sail Into The Sun” at Engine Room with mastering engineer Dan Millice.

The guys behind French Horn Rebellion have a new studio in Brooklyn named for their production company, You Too Can Woo, where they’ve been busy working on the new album by The Knocks (David Perlick Molinari mixing), new tracks by French Horn Rebellion, Ghost Beach’s live set, and designing new sounds for MTV. (See photos of the studio in this Cool Hunting feature.) Other recent projects include work with St. Lucia and Haerts. And the studio’s been hosting regular sessions for Savoir Adore, and Deidre and the Dark.

Band of sisters, HAIM.

Band of sisters, HAIM.

LA band HAIM mastered their new album – produced by Ariel Reichstaid for Polydor Records – with Emily Lazar at The Lodge, assisted by Rich Morales. Lazar also recently mastered a Damian Taylor remix of Gotye’s “Easy Way Out” (produced by Wally De Backer aka Gotye) – look for it on Gotye’s upcoming “Video Mirrors” release – the new BT album, A Song Across Wires, and the new Party Supplies album for Fool’s Gold Records. Rich Morales assisted on the BT and Party Supplies albums.

At Masterdisk, Scott Hull has just finished mastering Sting’s new album, The Last Ship, produced by Rob Mathes for Interscope / A&M; Ben Allison mastered his new album, The Stars Look Very Different Today, with Randy Merrill. The album was recorded by Aaron Nevezie at The Bunker, and mixed by Allison for Sonic Camera Records. Vlado Meller mastered the new album by Phantogram, produced by John Hill and mixed by Rich Costey at Eldorado in Burbank for Universal Republic. And Mark Santangelo mastered the new album by The Weeknd producer Illangelo, called History of Man. Hear a track off the album, due out on Bromance Records August 20, here.

Beach Boys guitarist Al Jardine was in Brooklyn at Excello Recording, mixing a new single “Waves of Love” with producer Larry Dvoskin and engineer Hugh Pool. Dvoskin also tapped Pool to mix a collaboration with Sean Lennon for Bono’s “One” charity project.

Also at Excello, Bluegrass legend Tony Trischka was in with The Punch Brothers producing vocals for his upcoming release with engineer Charles Dechants; alt rock duo “Ken Rock South” was in tracking and mixing an EP with Pool, assisted by Dechants; and Chilean production duo Koko Stambuck and Christopher Manhey were in tracking with Mexican Warner Brothers artist Paulino.

And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to

Event Alert: Off The Record With Scott Hull Feat. Producer Rob Mathes, 4/25

April 23, 2013 by  

On the next “Off The Record with Scott Hull”, coming up this Thursday (4/25), the Masterdisk chief sits down with multi-talented producer, Rob Mathes (Sting, Elton John, U2).

Rob Mathes

Rob Mathes

Scott Hull – who has mastered many a project for Mathes – calls him a “music renaissance man,” and a producer in a classic sense with “a profound understanding of many genres of music.” We would second that.

I first interviewed Mathes when he was producing Panic at the Disco’s ambitious record, Pretty. Odd., which had been equal parts inspired by the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s and the filmscore magic of Danny Elfman. Mathes was tapped for his unique ability to help translate these epic ideas into that young alt-rock context, with elaborate pop arrangements and instrumentation.

His more recent work includes albums by a total range of artists, from Sting to Fall Out Boy, Rod Stewart to Bettye Lavette to Train. Mathes is also a true multi-instrumentalist, and a sought-after arranger and musical director, and likewise writes arrangements for a wide range of artists, from Renee Fleming to Just Blaze to Avril Lavigne to Lou Reed, and directs the annual Kennedy Center Honors, and events like the Obama Inaugural “We Are One” concert.

Should be a compelling conversation with a uniquely successful modern producer.

Click for more details, or see below!

Full Coordinates:
Off the Record with Scott Hull
Thursday, April 25, 2013
City College of New York’s Shepard Hall
160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY
Directions to CUNY
Admission: Free and open to the public.

Session Buzz: Who’s Recording In & Around NYC – A Monthly Report

April 18, 2013 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: We’re all over the local and musical map in this month’s epic Session Buzz, as we trace recordings by the likes of Yoko Ono, Talib Kweli, John Zorn, MGMT, Wale, Hole, Okkervil River, The Joy Formidable and more back to their studio sessions. Find out where several busloads of notable artists have been recording, not to mention film scores and Broadway Cast Albums, and who’s all engineering and producing these sessions. Below.

Warner Bros artist Wale has been working on his upcoming LP out of Daddy’s House Recording Studios in the SSL G series Room. Daddy’s House also hosted sessions with French Montana, tracking and mixing his upcoming album with Steve Dickey and Duro CEO, Bad Boy artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, Cassie, Red Café, Los, and Megan Nicole, and sessions with Fabolous, Wacka Flocka, Q-Tip, DJ Khaled, T Pain, Jose Feliciano and more.

Jordin Sparks with Doug E. Fresh (left) and Artie

Jordin Sparks with Doug E. Fresh (left) and Artie Green

Nearby at Area 51 NYC, Jordin Sparks and Ryan Beatty recorded a song written and produced by Artie Green (Ashanti, Ja Rule…), with engineer and studio co-owner Roey Shamir at the console, and rapper/producer Doug E. Fresh on hand. The song is being used on an album to benefit Hip Hop Public Health and The Partnership for a Healthy America/Let’s Move initiative. Area 51 co-owner Tony Drootin is a board member of HHPH and is a co-executive producer on the album.

In other Area 51 sessions, A$AP Rocky and A$AP F3RG were working on songs from their upcoming records with Bad Boy engineer Steve Dickey at the controls; and Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, and Galadrielle Allman (Duane Allman’s daughter) were in recording a radio interview to promote the Duane Allman box set being released on Concord Records.

Uptown at David Kutch’s studio, The Mastering Palace…it was a “tale of two Justin’s” this winter – with Justin Timberlake in to put final touches on The 20/20 Experience with Kutch, and Justin Bieber’s new Believe (Acoustic) LP mastered only days before its release in January. Some other big albums Kutch has mastered of late…Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox, Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire and the new album by The Strokes, Comedown Machine.

Meanwhile, Mastering Palace engineer Tatsuya Sato has been working closely with Sony Mexico, mastering for artists Los Daniels and Aleks Syntec. And Michelle Mancini just completed mastering the Deb Oh & The Cavaliers EP and a new artist Josh Franklin who’s album was executive produced by Peter Wade (MNDR, WonderSound).

Down at EastSide Sound on the Lower East Side, Courtney Love & Hole were tracking new songs and vocals with engineer Marc Urselli for their upcoming Island Def Jam release.

Urselli also tracked vocals for three different all-star collaborations with Italian pop star Jovanotti, along with a new acoustic song for a movie soundtrack; recorded a few new songs with Wilco guitarist Nels Cline for his Nels Cline Singers band; tracked and mixed four new albums for John Zorn featuring guests such as Bill Frisell, Thurston Moore, Joey Baron, Kenny Wolleson and John Medeski; and produced/engineered a new album by former Luca Carboni musical director and keyboard player Fabio Anastasi for an upcoming solo release on TempoPirata Records.

And at Germano Studios in the East Village…singer/songwriter Loren Benjamin was in mixing in Studio 2, with Steve Jordan producing and Dave O’Donnell engineering, and the artist Moxie recorded piano and vocals in Studio 1 with Freddy Wexler & Pheenix producing and Wexler engineering. Sara Bareilles recently recorded vocals at Germano for her upcoming album, being produced/engineered by John O’Mahony, and Gavin Degraw was in to record some new material with Ryan Tedder producing and engineering.

Germano Studios also hosted sessions with singer Paloma Faith – writing and recording in Studio 1 with John Legend producing and Dave Rowland engineering; Trace Adkins recording the Harlem Gospel Choir in Studio 1 with Frank Rogers producing and Richard Barrow engineering; Yoko Ono recording vocals with Sean Lennon producing and Kenta Yonesaka engineering; John Legend recording with Dave Tozer producing and Jason Agel engineering; and Fred Armisen cutting basic tracks in Studio 1 for Saturday Night Live, with Kenta Yonesaka engineering.

Michael Cera (right) at Terminus Recording

Michael Cera (right) at Terminus Recording

Meanwhile at Terminus Recording Studios in Times Square, actor Michael Cera and Kelis were shooting an awkward recording studio scene for Cera’s upcoming short film, Brazzaville Teenager – for the new YouTube-based Jash Network. While Studio A was being prepped for filming, the team also recorded a vocal for Kelis’ song that appears in the film in Studio B.

Also at Terminus, DJ Khaled tracked vocals for his upcoming album, Suffering From Success, with engineer Ben Diehl. Guest vocalists included Akon, Anthony Hamilton, Meek Mill, Jeremih and Vado. Maino and The Mafia also cut vocals for two new tracks – one, “So Cold,” featured CashOut, and the other, “Real Recognize Real” was, according to studio manager Christian Rutledge, “released on XM Satellite Radio on the night it was tracked, showing up on Rap Radar and lighting up the blogs by the next day.” The Maino and The Mafia sessions were run by Terminus staff engineers Justin Rodrigues and James Yost.

Jumping over to Jersey for a minute, the two-studio Union City facility housed in an old sewing factory, Kaleidoscope Sound, has been hosting recording sessions for improvisational jazz violinist Regina Carter, with engineer Joe Ferla manning the API. And Kaleidoscope recently completed the 25th Anniversary Cast Recording for Nunsense.

Several other Cast Albums were recently tracked at MSR Studios in Midtown Manhattan, including that of the new Cinderella: The Musical with engineer Todd Whitelock, Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots with engineer Bill Whitman, Sh-K-Boom! Records’ Dogfight with engineer Lawrence Manchester, Giant: The Musical with engineer Joel Moss, and Pippin (engineered by Lawrence Manchester), and Natasha and the Great Comet with producer/engineer Dean Sharenow, and Kathy Lee Gifford’s Scandalous (produced by David Lai, engineered by Isaiah Abolin).

And some other recent action at MSR includes…Producer Salaam Remi working with Jennifer Hudson on material for her new RCA record, with engineer Gleyder “G” Disla, and MSR assistant Gloria Kaba; Engineer Todd Whitelock mixing new releases from Mack Avenue artist Kenny Garrett and Nonesuch recording artist Audra McDonald, assisted by Brett Mayer and Fred Sladkey; and the recording and mixing of David Sanborn and Bob James’ forthcoming follow up to their 1986 Grammy Award winning album Double Vision with engineer Ken Freeman with MSR assistant Brett Mayer.

Nearby, the landmark Avatar Studios played host to a couple of big film score sessions – composer Howard Shore’s score for director Arnaud Desplechin new film Jimmy Picard (starring Benicio Del Toro), with engineer Sam Okell, assisted by Tim Marchiafava and Tyler Hartman, and composer Teddy Shapiro’s score to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (directed by and starring Ben Stiller), engineered by Chris Fogel assisted by Marchiafava.

Audra McDonald also recorded out of Avatar’s Studios A, B and C with producer Doug Petty and engineers Todd Whitelock and Roy Hendrickson assisted by Bob Mallory and Mike Bauer. And Depeche Mode, Jonatha Brooke and Thompson Square were also recently in session at Avatar.

Talib Kweli and Brian Cid  at SweetSounds

Talib Kweli and Brian Cid at SweetSounds

In SoHo, SweetSounds welcomed Brooklyn’s own Talib Kweli into the studio for some vocal tracking and sampling in the Crosby Room. Head engineer Brian Cid manned the room’s Neve 5088 console for the session as Kweli recorded in the studio’s windowed Live Room. And Crosby resident engineer Jason Finkel also tracked a full-on session with Brooklyn psychedelic chamber-pop band Friend Roulette.  The tracking sessions included two drum kits recorded simultaneously, violin, bass, clarinet, electronic wind instruments and vocals.

Sadly, one of the last sessions produced by Phil Ramone happened at Sear Sound not all that long ago, for Danielle Evin recording sessions with Frank Filipetti engineering.

In other Sear sessions, German actress and chanteuse, Ute Lemper, recorded an album with Chris Allen at the Sear/Avalon console and Todd Turkisher and Lemper producing.  The tracks were mostly Spanish and French traditional songs utilizing an array of exotic percussion instruments; Tracks for a new film directed by George C. Wolfe, You’re Not You (Hilary Swank) were recorded with Ted Tuthill piloting the Neve 8038 and Todd Kasow producing; Jazz singer Gregory Porter recorded his new album with large string and wind ensembles – Brian Bacchus produced and Jay Newland engineered;  Yoko Ono and Antony continued recording at Sear with Allen engineering, and Yoko producing; and Mack Avenue Records tracked and mixed a new album for the jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez with James Farber engineering, Al Pryor producing in Studio ‘C’, and Esperanza Spaulding singing and playing bass.

Masterdisk worked on a number of notable projects, including The Great Gatsby soundtrack for Interscope – produced by Jay-Z, and mastered by Tony Dawsey, assisted by Tim Boyce; a new album by The Brian Blade Fellowship Band, Landmarks, for Blue Note – mastered by Andy VanDette and mixed by Chris Bell; and Linda Thompson’s new first album since 2007′s Versatile Heart, mastered by Scott Hull and produced/mixed by Ed Haber.

Also mastered at Masterdisk recently…Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society’s Brooklyn Babylon for New Amsterdam, mastered by Randy Merrill, mixed by Brian Montgomery and produced by Beth Morrison Projects, and Kermit Ruffins – ‘We Partyin’ Traditional Style’ for Basin Street Records – produced by Tracey Freeman, recorded and mixed by Chris Finney, and mastered by Vlado Meller.

All the way downtown at Engine RoomAudio…alt-rock band The Joy Formidable (Atlantic) filmed a live recording session of their song, “Silent Treatment” with engineer Ben Lindell. Also at Engine Room…Anthony Daniel mixed Kat Dahlia’s (Epic) debut EP, Gangsta, 50 Cent mastered his latest single, “We Up” (feat. Kendrick Lamar) with Mark B. Christensen, and Austin band Boyfrndz mastered their new Ikey Owens-produced album, Natures, with Dan Millice.

To Brooklyn!

Producer/engineer John Agnello mixed three new albums at Fluxivity in Williamsburg, including Kurt Vile’s new Walkin on a Pretty Daze. In keeping with John and Kurt’s appreciation of analog sounds and following on the mixes made at the studio for his last record Smoke Ring For My Halo they returned to mix on the Neve 80 series console, and as before, the mixdown masters were recorded on ATR Magnetics tape using the studio’s Ampex ATR-102 tape machine.

John Agnello and Okkervil River's Will Sheff during March mixing sessions at Fluxivity.

John Agnello and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff during March mixing sessions at Fluxivity.

Agnello also mixed the new Okkervil River album at Fluxivity, as well as the new record by Canadian band Your Favorite Enemies Between Illness and Migration, the tracks for which were recorded in the band’s studio in Quebec, and brought to New York for John to mix through the collection of vintage gear in the Fluxivity mix room.

Mastering engineer Joe Lambert recently mastered a new Moby album at Joe Lambert Mastering in DUMBO, which by the way recently added a Buzz Audio REQ 2.2 Mastering EQ to its arsenal. Other new albums recently mastered at Joe Lambert Mastering include the latest album from Washed Out, mixed by Ben Allen; the new Deerhunter record, Monomania; and some Kronos Quartet songs composed by Bryce Dessner of The National.

Down the block at Saltlands, disco band Escort recorded with engineer Nick Stumpf; Aussie singer/songwriter Scott Matthew recorded his latest with engineer Augustus Skinner; model-turned-singer Hannah Cohen spent a couple days writing and recording new songs with producer Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) – the producer of her debut, Child Bride – and engineer Jon Altschuler; and Audioms – a new (coming soon) “indie rock licensing company” tracked music with Shannon Ferguson from Longwave. Audioms founder Kevin Mazzarelli produced the sessions, with Jesse O’Connor engineering.

Back in Williamsburg, Grand Street Recording has been busy with a number of album projects, including Jared Saltiel’s upcoming The Light Within – an album of “magical realist” songs weaving layered instrumentals with “elaborate orchstrations and clever, Beatles-esque production” and featuring musical contributions from a talented lineup of players, including Max Moston, Rob Moose, Olivier Manchon, Clark Gayton and Rich Hinman. The album was engineered by Ken Rich and Tomek Miernowski, mixed by Rich, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound.

In other Grand Street sessions, Diane Birch was in recording stripped down piano and vocal sessions with Miernowski engineering; Bluegrass artist (fiddler) Michael Barnett (The Deadly Gentlemen, Tony Trischka) tracked the basics for his upcoming album with engineers Dave Sinko (Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck) and Miernowski, mandolinist Dominick Leslie, and Punch Brothers members Paul Kowert & Chris “Critter” Eldridge laying down basics; John Andrews (NenaPeterMurphyBotanicaMorley) brought in his rock band, Loudboy for a week to track the basics for a new release (13 songs in a day and a half) with Ken Rich engineering and Jake Lummus assisting; and Rene Lopez recorded his latest album with a world-class rhythm section including Bill Dobrow, Brett Bass, Daniel Sadownick and Avi Bortnick. Working in tandem with producer Daniel Collas (the Phenomenal Handclap Band) and Miernowski engineering, the group was able to track 15 songs in 4 days, with overdubs to follow.

Michael Barnett (right) with Tomek Miernowski at Grand Street

Michael Barnett (right) with Tomek Miernowski at Grand Street

In gear related news, Grand Street has added a matched pair of Coles 4038 Ribbon Mics, a Placid Audio Copperphone, 1965 Ampeg Reverberocket II, and a Danelectro Series D amp from the 50′s (on loan from friend and tech John Charette).

Adds owner Ken Rich: “We’ve also expanded our studio to include a “B Room” Pro Tools rig that can be used for light tracking/overdubs and editing. We’re running Pro Tools 10 with an Apogee Duet 2 and can offer clients last minute time slots at a significantly reduced rate (50% off!) while still offering access to our extensive mic and amp collection. In addition, we’re also revamping our FX Rack, and have acquired some classic reverbs and delays including a Lexicon PCM 42 delay unit as well as PCM 60 and PCM 70 reverbs.”

Nearby at GaluminumFoil in Williamsburg, producer/engineer Jeff Berner was juggling a bunch of records, including finishing the new album by Naam, Vow, that’s due out on TeePee Records on 6/4.  Berner produced, engineered and mixed the record, tracking to GaluminumFoil’s Sony/MCI JH24 2″ machine and transferring to Digital Performer for overdubs and mixing), and added some additional guitar/synth/percussion/backing vocals along the way. The record has been mastered by Alex DeTurk at Masterdisk, and was “co-produced by X-Box the dog and many strong pots of coffee.”

Berner also recently engineered and mixed Dead Stars’ new EP, “High Gain” (also mastered by DeTurk and due out – via Uninhabitable Mansions – on 6/4; co-produced and engineered the new full-length album by Gunfight!, Stripes, which will be released later this year; and recorded new material by Weird Owl. “They came in super-prepared and finished four tracks in less time than it took to get a snare drum sound in 1987,” Berner noted of the session, which took place last weekend. Really excited to mix these great tunes in the forthcoming weeks!”

Meanwhile over at producer/engineer Matt Boynton’s Vacation Island Recording…sessions have been steady going. Most recently, Carsick Cars recorded and mixed a new record with Pete Kember (Spacemen 3) producing and Boynton engineering.

Over the last few months…Boynton also engineered sessions with MGMT – tracking vocals for their new album – and Andrew Vanwyngarden (one half of MGMT) recording and mixing songs for a movie; Bad Girlfriend – tracking basics with Aaron Phenning (Chairlift) producing; Kurt Vile tracking for waking on a pretty daze; Free Blood finishing mixes; Zachary Cale, tracking and mixing new material. Jolie Holland also tracking basics at Vacation Island for a new record with Doug Jenkins engineering.

Mastering engineer Julian Silva has worked on a number of new releases out of his Greenpoint studio, On Air Mastering. Silva’s recently mastered products for Bennett Jackson –  “Texana” – Noah Lamech/ Jazz Cafe, and Heyerdahl, and all the “Live at Braund Sound” series, featuring Fall of another year, Lazer Cake and Tim Daoust.

And finally, it just makes sense to end at The End – also in Greenpoint – where The Daptones recently tracked new music with engineer Rocky Gallo, and Dirty Projectors and Holy Ghost! have been rehearsing for their upcoming sets at The Governor’s Ball in June. Also at The End…engineer Chris Boosahda has been busy working with Shakey Graves to track their album, finishing up mixing on Liam Finn‘s new record and Monogold’s upcoming new album. Boosahda’s also been recording demos for Kevin Devine’s new record.

And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to

Event Choice NYC: “What It Means to be a Producer” Roundtable w/Scott Hull, Thurs. 3/21

March 19, 2013 by  

Is your career producing what you expected?

Jamie Siegel of JRock Studios will talk "Off the Record" this Thursday.

Jamie Siegel of JRock Studios will talk “Off the Record” this Thursday.

The “Off the Record” series continues with Scott Hull, mastering engineer and owner of Masterdisk, talking about top topics on the minds of audio professionals. This time, the spotlight is on producers and the current definition of what they do.

Once again, Hull and his invited guests, Travis Harrison and Jamie Siegel, will be at the Sonic Arts Center at City College. The talk will take place this Thursday, March 21st, and attendance is FREE (and the chance to win a nice prize from Alto Music, as well! See below).

Here’s more details, as provided by the event’s organizers:

Join our host, Scott Hull (mastering engineer and owner of Masterdisk), and his guests Travis Harrison (producer / recordist and owner of the Serious Business studio and record label) and Jamie Siegel (producer / engineer and owner of JRock Studios) at City College in NYC for a lively discussion about what it means to be a producer in today’s music business.

Sponsored by Masterdisk, The Sonic Arts Center at The City College of New York, City College and Alto Music.

Attendees can enter to win a $250 gift certificate to Alto Music, “The Most Complete Music Store In The World. Period.”

This event is FREE and open to the public!

Visit the Facebook page for additional details.

Session Buzz: Who’s Recording In & Around NYC – A Monthly Report

February 20, 2013 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: New works by David Bowie, Vampire Weekend, She & Him, Azealia Banks, John Scofield, Common and more have been in production all over the city – in the studios highlighted below. Where’s everyone recording? And who’s working with who? Here is our neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to recent NYC studio sessions…

First up, Sound City director Dave Grohl brought his Sound City: Reel to Real soundtrack to The Lodge to be mastered by Emily Lazar and Joe LaPorta.

Butch Vig, Joe LaPorta, Dave Grohl and Emily Lazar during Real to Reel mastering sessions. (Photo credit: Jim Sullos)

Mixed by Brooklyn-based engineer James Brown, the album was recorded on the legendary Sound City Neve 8028 at Grohl’s studio and features the various performances captured for the film, including Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme and Paul McCartney. The album comes out on Roswell Records on March 12 – pre-order it on iTunes and download the first single, “Cut Me Some Slack” (featuring McCartney).

Also at The Lodge, Vampire Weekend mastered their anticipated new album Modern Vampires of the City – produced by Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid – with Lazar and LaPorta. The record is due out May 7 on XL Recordings. Superstar DJ Armin van Buuren returned to The Lodge to master his new album for Armada Records. The album was produced by Armin van Buuren and Benno de Goeij and mastered by Lazar and LaPorta. And finally, LaPorta recently mastered the new Cold War Kids album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts – produced by Lars Stalfors and Dann Galluci and due out April 2 on Downtown Records.

Nearby at SweetSounds, indie folk ensemble Miko and the Musket tracked a new EP in the Crosby Room – Brad Fisher produced and engineered, assisted by Josh Giunta and James Gill. The band tracked through the Neve 5088 console over a five-day session that SweetSounds owner Dinesh Boaz calls “epic and awesome.”

“To create a very big sounding record, six different room mics were employed at different times as well as an SPL Transient Designer to customize the sense of space on the drums,” says Boaz. “Acoustic, electric guitars, bass, and vocals on six songs were also recorded, comped, and prepared for mix.  The last day ran for 16 hours straight, where vocals, guitar, re-amps, and bass were recorded for 3 of the songs without break.”

Tony Visconti, David Bowie and Brian Thorne at The Magic Shop. Photo by Kabir Hermon.

Another epic session wrapped recently at The Magic Shop (as we previously reported) – David Bowie’s new album, The Next Day, had been in production there for two years, with Tony Visconti producing, Mario McNulty engineering and Brian Thorne assisting. The album, Bowie’s first in a decade, comes out in March.

In other Magic Shop sessions… She & Him tracked and mixed their new album, Vol. 3, with producer/engineer Tom Shick, assisted by Kabir Hermon…studio owner Steve Rosenthal and staff engineer Ted Young worked with Sony Legacy’s Rob Santos on the upcoming Elvis record Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite: Legacy Edition, mixing the dress rehearsal from the original multitrack tapes… Kurt Vile‘s upcoming release Wakin On Pretty Daze was produced and mixed by John Agnello with Ted Young… Engineer/producer Alex Newport tracked Grandfather‘s upcoming release In Human Form… Lloyd Cole recorded for his new album with engineer Geoff Sanoff… and Lily and the Parlour Tricks recorded for an upcoming EP with producer Wilson Brown, and Young engineering.

With the departure of mastering engineer Warren Russell-Smith for Los Angeles, mastering engineer Jessica Thompson is now working out of the Blue Room while Sean Gavigan, Doug Bleek and Matt Zedolik continue restoration work out of the Red Room. Thompson recently mastered Balkan Arts Series - a collection of 1960-1970s field recordings of traditional folk dances, restored from vinyl - The Lake Reflections, an album of genre-defying piano improvisations by Boyd Lee Dunlop, produced/engineered by Allen Farmelo; and a new record of Irish tunes for Chris Byrne‘s (Black 47) new band The Lost Tribe of Donegal.

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite

Next, up to Avatar Studios, where singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke has been recording an upcoming project in multiple rooms with co-producer Patrick Rains and Roy Hendrickson engineering, and where Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite have been recording new material with producer Dave Einstein, and engineer Anthony Ruotolo.

Also at Avatar… Cirque du Soleil mixed their Zarkana cast album in Studio A with producer Nick Littlemore, and engineer Roy Hendrickson assisted by Mike Bauer…MTV shot live performances for their Artists to Watch series with Gold Fields and Hunter Hayes – produced by Dan Weissman and Allyssa Agro with engineer Ryan Jones assisted by Bob Mallory…the Wayne Shorter Quartet and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra recorded together in Studio A with producer Rob Griffin and engineer Todd Whitelock… up-and-coming band Basic Vacation recorded with producer David Kahne, and Hendrickson at the controls…And fresh off his performance at the Grammy Awards, Kenny Garrett recorded with co-producer Al Pryor and engineer Joe Ferla.

Also worth noting, 10 Grammy Award winning records (and 21 nominees) were recorded at Avatar (Paul McCartney, Anita Baker, Chick Corea, etc.). Check out the full list here.

A few blocks away at Sear Sound…Phil Ramone produced tracks for a new Broadway Show, I Will, I Can – based on Sammy Davis, Jr.’s autobiography – with Frank Filipetti engineering on the Avalon/Sear custom board; and actor and singer/songwriter Jesse Lenat recorded new material with engineer Chris Allen and producer Loren Toolajian for Sandblast Productions.

As usual, Sear hosted a number of jazz sessions, including pianist Gerald Clayton tracking a new album on the Neve 8038 with Ted Tuthill engineering and Ben Wendel producing… Sophie Millman recording with producer Matt Pierson and engineer Chris Allen…John Scofield recording his latest with engineer James Farber…and Kris Bowers tracking a new album with producer Chris Dunn and Allen engineering. Finally, Ten Dragon Films was at Sear tracking a score for their documentary, In The Magic of the Green Mountains – Allen engineered with Micah Burgess producing – and the “Flamenco Queen”, Buika, returned to Sear to mix her new album with Tuthill engineering and Eli Wolf producing for Warner Bros. Spain.

Azealia Banks

Back downtown at Germano Studios, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were back to record more material for an upcoming album with Kenny Laguna and Jett producing, and Thom Panunzio and Kenta Yonesaka engineering.

And in other recent sessions at Germano…Harlem-bred rap ingénue Azealia Banks recorded vocals for a new record with Ric McRae producing and engineering…John Legend recorded and mixed for his upcoming record with Dave Tozer producing and Jason Agel engineering…French hip-hop band IAM recorded and mixed their new album with Prince Charles Alexander mixing (and Dave Rowland recording)… Passion Pit recorded and shot video with Dillon Francis producing…Isa “Machine” Summers recorded piano for the artist LP with Yonesaka engineering …and Japanese artist AK recorded and mixed with Yonesaka again at the controls.

Back up in Times Square at Premier Studios NY, Justin Bieber was working on some new music with his longtime guitarist Dan Kanter – Ari Raskin engineered the sessions with Oscar Lindquist assisting.

Meanwhile, Roc Nation artist/producer J. Cole has been working out of Premier Studio B, with Mez on the controls; G-Unit rapper Kidd Kidd was in tracking with Premier engineer Kevin Geigel; the whole Pro Era crew (Joey Bada$$, etc.) has been locked into Studio F working on upcoming albums and mixtapes with Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, A$AP Rocky, Sha Money XL and many more; Shontelle was in Studio E working on new material with songwriter Corey “Chorus” Gibson, producer Reo and Angelo Payne engineering; and Trey Songz was back in the studio working on new material with Premier engineer Anthony Daniel.

Masterdisk finished some pretty major albums of late, including the 2-disc vinyl set of the aforementioned Bowie album, The Next Day, for Columbia Records. Alex DeTurk was the cutting engineer. CoCoRosie brought their new Valgeir Sigurðsson-produced album, Tales of the Grass Widow to be mastered by Scott Hull for City Slang Records. French Montana’s new single, “Freaks” (feat. Nicki Minaj) was mastered by Tony Dawsey, and assisted by Tim Boyce. The track was produced by Rico Love.

Vlado Meller mastered Harry Connick, Jr.’s new album Smokey Mary, produced/mixed by Tracey Freeman for Columbia Records. Meller was assisted by Mark Santangelo. And Randy Merrill mastered the new Jangeun “JB” Bae record, mixed by Aaron Nevezie at The Bunker in Brooklyn for Inner Circle Music / Gimbab Records.


Some heavy hip-hop production sessions have gone down at The Brewery in Williamsburg recently: For one, producer Dot Da Genius linked up with the producer 88 Keys and Common to work on new material. Dot has also been in the studio working with Def Jam artist Logic.

Dot Da Genius, Common and 88 Keys at The Brewery

Meanwhile, Dot’s partner in The Brewery, engineer/mixer Andrew Krivonos has been working with Las Vegas-based hip-hop artist Sean Rose – splitting time between Brooklyn and L.A. and “rocking the Brewery’s completely upgraded Pro Tools rig.”

Krivonos has also been engineering sessions at The Brewery with Universal’s recent hip-hop signing, Mr. MFN eXquire, with Bryan Lampe mixing; and has been tracking drums/bass/guitar and vocals for the hip-hop band Downbeat Keys’ upcoming EP, Memory Chrome – taking advantage of the re-worked acoustics in The Brewery’s new live room. And songwriter Corey Chorus and the Philly Phatboi’s were at the Brewery working with Krivonos on some records for the Columbia artist, RaVaughn.

Mastering engineer Drew Lavyne, who blogged about the loss of his Breezy Point studio in Hurricane Sandy, has been cranking on projects out of his new studio in Bay Ridge. The first two albums he mastered, in fact, were back-to-back #1 records: Kim Walker-Smith‘s album Still Believe made #1 on the iTunes Christian and Gospel Chart (and hit #4 on the iTunes Top Albums) and Jesus Culture’s album Live From New York with Martin Smith hit #1 on the iTunes Christian and Gospel Chart.

Other recent projects since Lavyne re-located his A.L.L. Digital include mastering for Exile Parade, Cari Fletcher, Arianna feat. Pitbull, Walk The Moon, Two Door Cinema Club, and Antigone Rising.

Over at GalumniumFoil in Williamsburg, producer/engineer and guitarist Jeff Berner was working on a bunch of records, including producing/engineering Naam’s second full-length LP for TeePee Records; engineering and playing on Psychic TV‘s new limited edition vinyl-only release, Silver Sundown Machine/Alien Lightning Meat Machine for Vanity Case Records; producing/mixing and playing on Heliotropes‘ debut full-length for Manimal Vinyl/Frenchkiss Records, due out in the spring; tracking basics for Dead Stars‘ new EP, live to tape; and engineering and mixing The Glorious Veins‘ new LP, Savage Beat.

Brooklyn psych-rock band Naam

Berner also recently produced and engineered Man The Change‘s upcoming “Faded” and “Defeated EP’s for Hooked On Records and new songs for Tatiana Kochkareva’s forthcoming album.

All records were tracked to GaluminumFoil’s 32-channel Neotek Elan console, using their Sony/MCI JH-24 2″ tape machine – with a good majority of them mastered by Alex DeTurk at Masterdisk. (Why?, says Berner, because he’s awesome.)

Nearby at The Fort in Bushwick, producer/engineer James Bentley has been working on a few albums – most recently he’s been tracking and mixed an LP for surf-punk band, Trash Tide; wrappingup overdubs/mixing on an EP he’s producing for local “sci-fi rock band” Lord Classic, finishing mixes on an LP for pop/rock band Aquadora, and filming a session for a new video series called “Behind the Glass“.

And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to

Session Buzz: Who’s Recording In & Around NYC – A Monthly Report

December 13, 2012 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: It’s been a minute since our last Session Buzz, but things have been busy all over town. Sandy, of course, had her effect on business, leaving many in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn scrambling for weeks after the power came back on, but by and large…folks are back in action. Some, better than ever.

That is, Strange Weather Recording in Williamsburg opened their brand-new facility this week. The epic build-out – chronicled in Marc Alan Goodman’s Building Strange Weather blog – finished just in time for inaugural sessions this week with garage rockers Total Slacker tracking and mixing a new full-length over seven days with producer/engineer Daniel James Schlett. Goodman also noted that Ben Greenberg (Zs, Hubble) will be in next week to mix his band the Men.

Frank Ocean got together with Alicia Keys at Germano Studios

Meanwhile at Germano Studios in Manhattan…Lauryn Hill recorded basic tracks with Graham Marsh engineering, Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band recorded vocals with Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono producing, and Kenta Yonesaka engineering, Common recorded vocals with J.Period and No I.D. producing and Jason Agel engineering…John Legend recorded and mixed new material with Dave Tozer and Kanye West producing, Jason Agel and Noah Goldstein engineering…Alicia Keys was in for writing and recording sessions with Frank Ocean, with Malay producing and Ann Mincieli engineering…and James Brown mixed the new We Are Scientists record, produced by Chris Coady.

Also writing, recording and mixing new material at Germano were…Pharrell Williams with Andrew Coleman engineering…J.Cole with Curtis “Sauce” Wilson engineering…Meek Mill with Wayne Harelwood engineering … Justin Bieber with Josh Gudwin producing and engineering, AK-69 with Rimaji Kato engineering, and Pitbull with Danny Mercer producing and Dave Rowland engineering…

Over at Flux Studios in the East Village…Fab Dupont has been busy making a record with South African pop duo The Arrows - producing, recording and mixing the album. Dupont is also mixing the new DJ Collette album.

Meanwhile, OK Go lead singer/guitarist Damian Kulash spent some time in Flux’s Revolution room, writing for the upcoming OK Go album. And Big Boi stopped by for a vocal session with producer Frans Mernick for this Decoded feature on Jay-Z’s Life and Times blog. Also at Flux…Teddy Geiger tracked drums for his upcoming album, Bebel Gilberto recorded vocals for the new UN Women anthem and Jukebox The Ghost tracked piano with producer Dan Romer for an upcoming film.

Also, coming up early next year, Flux’s Dangerous Room will be home to a vintage 1970s Neve console! Stay tuned for more on that!

In Midtown, MSR Studios hosted Edie Brickell tracking new music with producer Steve Gadd and engineer Andy Smith (assisted by Fred Sladkey). The team recorded rhythm section and vocals for an upcoming film soundtrack. And Robert Randolph has been recording, editing and mixing in all three rooms at MSR, working on various projects including the New York Knicks theme song for Madison Square Garden. Randolph produces on these sessions, working with engineer Alex Venguer.

Russ Elevado mixed Eric Krasno’s (of Soulive and Lettuce) new EP in MSR Studio C, assisted by Mike Layos. And producer/engineer Don Hunerberg worked with music director Milton DeLugg out of A to record and mix full orchestra and ensemble/lead vocals for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Click to win Rage Against The Machine vinyl via Masterdisk

Across town at Masterdisk…recent albums mastered include: Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange (up for “Album of the Year” Grammy) – mastered by Vlado Meller, produced by Frank Ocean, Malay, Om’mas Keith and Pharrell Williams for Def Jam; The Weeknd’s Trilogy (a three-CD set + vinyl) – mastered by Mark Santangelo, produced by The Weeknd, Doc McKinney and Illangelo, mixed by Illangelo for XO/Republic; and a Rage Against The Machine 20th Anniversary set (vinyl, CD and DVD) – mastered by Vlado Meller and executive produced by Rick Rubin for Sony Music, with lacquers cut by Mark Santangelo.

Also mastered at Masterdisk…Jay-Z Live In Brooklyn EP, mastered by Tony Dawsey and mixed by Young Guru; Rod Stewart’s Merry Christmas Baby – mastered by Meller, produced by David Foster, and mixed by Jochem van der Saag for Verve; Tom Wopat‘s new album and a Debby Boone EP – both mastered by Randy Merrill and mixed by Roy Hendrickson; and the four-LP set, Dave Matthews Band Live Trax Vol 1 – mastered by Scott Hull.

Over in the Film Center Building, at John Kilgore Sound & Recording, composer Claire Van Kampen was recording her score for an as-yet-untitled feature film directed by Christian Camargo; Drew Gasparini was tracking a new album – produced by Charlie Rosen and engineered by John Kilgore; Halle Petro recorded vocals for a new album, produced by Michael Gomez, and recorded/mixed by Kilgore; and tracking and mixing sessions were held for Annie Kozuch’s new album, with producer Frank Ponzio.

Kilgore also mixed Brian Landrus‘ new self-produced album, tracked at Sear Sound by Chris Allen, and mastered by Alan Silverman of ARF Digital; and worked on float music for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, produced by Bill Schermerhorn and Wesley Whatley.

Speaking of Sear Sound…Andrew Wyatt (of Miike Snow) mixed his new album at Sear, with Ted Tuthill engineering, and Yoko Ono continued sessions there for her upcoming record with Chris Allen engineering, Sean Lennon, Yuka Honda and Yoko Ono producing. Spanish chanteuse Buika also tracked new music for Warner Bros/Spain with Eli Wolf producing and Tuthill engineering.

And jazz artists James Maddock, Dave Holland and Etienne Charles all worked on new music at Sear recently. Maddock recorded in Studio A with Matt Pierson producing and James Farber engineering; Charles tracked with Chris Allen engineering; and Holland mixed his new album with Farber at the controls.

Click to hear the first track off Beach Fossils’ upcoming album

Across the river at Joe Lambert Mastering in DUMBO… Lambert recently mastered the new solo album by the aforementioned Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow) – called  Descender (recently covered in Rolling Stone), as well as Youth Lagoon’s upcoming album on Fat Possum – produced by Ben Allen; Eleanor Friedberger’s latest for Merge – produced/engineered by Eric Broucek; and Beach Fossils new album for Captured Tracks – engineered by Ben Greenberg.

Additonally at JLM, Roman Vail mastered the new album by singer/songwriter and composer LiLi Roquelin, Beautiful Sun. It features Askold Buk on guitars and bass, strings by the Wandering Cellist and Christopher Marion, and was mixed by Marc Urselli.

Down the block to SaltlandsEngineer Jim Smith recently finished tracking a new EP with Warp artists My Best Fiend, recording live in the studio to tape and using Saltlands Ampeg B-15 on bass with their own vintage Music Man amps on guitars for ample vintage-rock sonics. Click for more details. And coming up this weekend, Smith will be tracking Sharon Van Etten vocals, with Jonathan Meiburg producing.

In other recent Saltland sessions…musician/comedian Reggie Watts was in Studio A recording with singer-songwriter and engineer Dawn Landes; PT Walkley and Eli Janney were in working on a new project; Producer Doveman was with the perennials, and Hannah Cohen before that; And engineer/producer Ted Young tracked with rock band Morningside Lane.

At Grand Street Recording in Williamsburg…Zach Jones recorded a Ron Sexsmith cover song for a Hurricane Sandy benefit (download/donate here); Chris Kuffner (Regina Spektor), Elliot Jacobson (Ingrid Michaelson) and Lelia Broussard (The Voice) tracked for an upcoming project with Broussard and Kuffner – engineered by Ken Rich; and Amy Lennard completed her latest album with Andy Stack on guitars, Tony Tino (Gavin DeGraw) on bass, Dan Vonneget on drums, Keith Cotton (Joan Osborne) on keys, Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel) on drums and percussion, and John Graboff (Willie Nelson) on pedal steel. Rich recorded and mixed Lennard’s album, which was mastered at Sterling Sound by Greg Calbi and is due out in early Spring.

Michelle Citrin and band recording at Grand Street Recording

Also at Grand Street…Adam Levy worked on his new record with producer Aaron Lee Tasjen and Tomek Miernowski engineering; and Michelle Citrin recorded and filmed a music video for a Hanukkah song. (pictured) Players include Dan Rieser on drums, Chris Morissey on bass, Itaal Shur on keys, Debra Kreisberg on sax, Tomek Miernowski on guitar, and Jared Saltiel on vibraphone. The song was tracked, filmed, mixed and mastered all in one day by Ken Rich.

At Blackler Mastering in Bushwick…Kevin Blacker mastered a couple notable jazz records for High Note, including a duet album with bassist Harvie S. and pianist Kenny Barron, and an upcoming album for Miles Davis’ protege Wallace Roney. Blackler also mastered an Afro-Cuban / electronic album for artist Chico Mann (aka Marcos Garcis of Antibalas) for SoundWay Records out of London; and an album by Kendra Morris for Wax Poetics, which hit #2 on the iTunes R&B charts. He also mastered a Kendra Morris B-side featuring a Pink Floyd cover which is to-be the title track of an upcoming film, starring Collin Farrell.

Out at The Barber Shop Studios in Lake Hopatcong, NJ….Dream Theater’s Mike Mangini recorded for Hudson Music’s Drum Guru App – with Zak Rizvi engineering; Oh No Fiasco! worked on their upcoming record with producer Kato Khanwala and engineer John D’Uva. And Khanwala and D’Uva also worked with The Pretty Reckless whose new single, “Kill Me” was also mixed at the Barber Shop – check it out here. Prroducer/engineer Kevin Kumetz has been in the studio with up-and-coming artist Lacey Caroline – their collaboration recently produced her first single, “Can You Feel It”.

And we’ll leave you with Paul McCartney recording a Christmas classic at Avatar Studios

And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to

Event Choice: Off the Record with Scott Hull at City College, Thurs. 11/15

November 12, 2012 by  

Ready to get together?

(l-r) Join Scott Hull, Aaron Nevezie, and John Davis this Thursday for a free event at City College.

NYC mastering house Masterdisk is co-sponsoring a compelling – and free — event at the Sonic Arts Center at City College this Thursday, November 15th, at 7:30 PM: “Off the Record with Scott Hull.”

This informal talk, hosted by one of the industry’s top mastering engineers, is an up-to-the-minute look at music production, focusing on best practices in making great recordings. But this will be more than just tech talk — the artistry involved will take center stage in this casual but highly informative forum.

Joining Mr. Hull will be John Davis and Aaron Nevezie, producers/engineers/co-owners of the Brooklyn studio known as The Bunker.

Again, the event is FREE and open to the public. In addition, attendees can enter to win a $250 gift certificate to Alto Music.

Full Coordinates:
Off the Record with Scott Hull at City College
Thursday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m.

City College Campus
Shepard Hall, Room 95
Southeast corner of 140th Street & Convent Ave

Detailed directions to City College can be found here.

Vlado Meller Mastering Workshop to Debut in NYC, August 1-3 and September 19-21

June 20, 2012 by  

The need for high-level education in the mastering sector is being addressed via a new workshop from one of the world’s most accomplished mastering engineers, two-time GRAMMY-winner Vlado Meller.

Vlado Meller is sharing 40+ years of best practices in his new mastering workshop.

Meller has announced the Vlado Meller Mastering Workshop (VMMW,) a three-day intensive hands-on course which will launch in New York City from August 1-3. The course will also be available from September 19-21.

In the VMMW, qualified students will have the opportunity to learn personally from Meller. His 43-year career includes albums for Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Public Enemy, Jack White, Metallica, Andrea Bocelli, Oasis, Johnny Cash, and Shakira.

The workshop’s intensive curriculum is designed for professional mastering engineers, as well as working mixers, engineers, and producers looking to broaden their understanding of the mastering process.

Over the course of the three-day workshop, Meller will:

– illustrate his personal techniques through before and after examples of past releases
– detail the steps taken to arrive at finished results
– and guide students as they work hands-on at the mastering console on their own program material.

Class size will be limited to only a few students to allow for individualized attention.

VMMW will take place at Arf! Mastering in midtown Manhattan. Owned and operated by GRAMMY-nominated mastering engineer Alan Silverman, Arf! was selected by Meller for its world-class signal path, accurate monitoring, and spacious, day-lit room.

For more information on the course and Vlado Meller, as well as registration, visit

Session Buzz: Who’s Recording In & Around NYC — A Monthly Report

June 6, 2012 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: This month’s buzz finds a typically colorful spread of artists recording, mixing and mastering new works around town. The Beach Boys and Animal Collective, Empire of the Sun and Tiësto, Kurt Elling, Beirut, 50 Cent and Amanda Palmer – just to mention a few – have all been working on new releases in NYC-area studios. Which producers and engineers have been tracking, mixing and mastering these projects? And where? Read on…

First up, Grammy-winning jazz singer and songwriter Kurt Elling tracked his latest album for Concord Music Group at Sear Sound on the custom Avalon/Sear 60-input console in Studio C. Producer and Concord senior director A&R Chris Dunn produced with engineer Chris Allen at the controls. Elling’s band on the album includes Kendrick Scott on drums, Lawrence Hobgood on piano, John McLean on guitar and Clark Sommers on bass.

Chris Dunn also recently produced a “Concord Jazz All-Stars” album at Sear featuring Christian Scott on trumpet, Ben Williams on bass, Jamire Williams on drums, Matt Stevens on guitar, Gerald Clayton and Kris Bowers on piano, Logan Richardson and Walter Smith III on saxes – with Ted Tuthill engineering.

Also at Sear…electronic music duo Empire of the Sun tracked for their upcoming album in Studios A and C with Nicholas Littlemore producing and Tuthill engineering – Sear’s original Bob Moog / Walter Sear Moog modular synthesizer (Moog #2) was programmed and recorded for the album… Composer Bill Ryan recorded new music with a large percussion section and a string/woodwind ensemble, and Silas Brown engineering…and soulful singer/songwriter Amos Lee tracked vocals for the Zac Brown Band, with Allen at the controls.

Club Dogo with Mark Christensen at the Engine Room

Italian rap group Club Dogo (Universal Music Group) have been mixing and mastering their upcoming album at Engine Room Audio in lower Manhattan. The group’s DJ/beatmaker Don Joe and engineer Andrea “db” Debernardi flew in to work with head engineer Mark B. Christensen. Their latest single ‘Cattivi Esempi’ has reached #2 on the Italian music charts. The single, along with the rest of the album was mixed and mastered at Engine Room.

Also at Engine Room…Christensen mastered 50 Cent’s latest “Gangsta Grillz” mixtape – assisted by Benoit Holliger and Gabe MG, and Trey Songz’s new single “Heart Attack” – produced by Benny Blanco and Rico Love. The track is the first single off his upcoming album Chapter V, and the first track that has been ‘Mastered for iTunes.’ Christensen also mastered the new dance track by Jersey Shore’s Pauly D for G-Note Records.

Brooklyn rock band VietNam has been finishing up a new record with Matt Boynton at his Vacation Island Recording in Williamsburg. Boynton is mixing the album for the Brooklyn vinyl label Mexican Summer. Beirut has also been back at Vacation Island – where they mixed their ’11 album The Rip Tide – to mix their new EP with Boynton.

The Beach Boys stopped into Avatar Studios during their 50th Anniversary Tour for a vocal recording session in Studio C with producer Joe Thomas (Brian Wilson’s Imagination), and engineer Mike Czaszwicz, assisted by Tim Marchiafava.

Also at Avatar…Composer Teddy Shapiro’s film score for Great Hope Springs – directed by David Frankel and starring Meryl Streep and Steve Carell – was recorded in Studio A. Shapiro produced, and Chris Fogel engineered the tracking sessions. And source music for the film Killing Them Softly was performed and produced by Wynton Marsalis, and recorded by Jeff “Jedi Master” Jones. Bonnie Raitt recorded a live performance for World Cafe… The Young Presidents tracked new material with producer/engineer Rob Fraboni, assisted by Bob Mallory… Jimmy Fallon and the Roots recorded a comedy album, Blow Your Pants Off, with Lawrence Manchester engineering…Jon Hamm recorded a voiceover for the NFL Network…And Kurt Elling recorded a big band production of the Sinatra classic “The Best Is Yet To Come” for the Breeders Cup, with Steve McCabe and Neil Jason producing, and Roy Hendrickson engineering.

Animal Collective’s Deakin and Geologist with Joe Lambert (center)

Next, the new Animal Collective album is finished – Joe Lambert just mastered it at his studio in DUMBO. Due out on Domino Records, Centipede Hz was recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX, and co-produced by Ben H. Allen, who co-produced, engineered and mixed Merriweather Post Pavilion. Allen mixed the record at Maze Studios in Atlanta, GA.

Joe Lambert Mastering also recently mastered the new album by Ian Hunter, of Mott The Hoople, called When I’m President, which was produced by Peter Moshay of A-Pawling Studio in Pawling, NY.

Meanwhile, The Lodge‘s Emily Lazar, Joe LaPorta, Sarah Register and Heba Kadry have been busy mastering a host of new records, including Alanis Morissette‘s brand new album Havoc and Bright Lights – produced by Guy Sigsworth and Joe Chiccarelli and mixed by Chiccarelli – Neon Trees’ Picture Show, Santana’s new album Shape Shifter, Jimmy Cliff’s new album Re.Birth, produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, Shiny Toy Guns’ new album, mixed by Tony Maserati, and The Mars Volta’s album, Noctourniquet – produced by Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and mixed by Lars Stalfors

Other projects recently mastered at The Lodge include…Oneida drummer Kid Millions’ new album as Man Forever; Australian pop star Guy Sebastian‘s new single “Gold”, mixed by Manny Marroquin; Mexican rock band Fobia‘s new album on Sony Music Mexico, mixed by Jason Carmer; Tiësto’s remix of Kanye West’s “Lost In This World” off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; and the new album by Lotus Plaza – the solo project of Deerhunter’s Lockett Pundt – which was mixed by Chris Koltay.

Tiësto has been working on new material just a couple blocks away from The Lodge at Germano Studios, writing and recording with Tommy Trash – and Kenta Yonesaka engineering.

Also at Germano… Paul Falcone has been engineering sessions on some new material by M.I.A., with Missy Elliott and Danja producing…Mike Fraser mixed a Nickelback live album with songwriter/producer Gordini producing…Ryan West mixed Slaughterhouse… Kid Cudi recorded guitars and vocals with Dot da Genius producing, and Bill Sullivan engineering…Alicia Keys was in working with Mark Ronson, with Ann Mincieli engineering… Steve Perry was in to record vocals and keyboards with engineer Dave Rowland… TV boy band Big Time Rush were in writing and recording with producers Claude Kelly and Sandy Vee…and Isa “Machine” Summers (of Florence and the Machine) was working on a remix, with Pete Hanson engineering.

Brit rockers Bloc Party recorded their new album, Four, at Stratosphere Sound with Brooklyn-based producer/engineer Alex Newport, assisted by Atsuo Matsumoto. Check out the album trailer (featuring session footage) below. Also at Stratosphere…spoken word artist and singer/songwriter The Floacist and Raheem DeVaughn recorded with producer Nolan Weekes and engineer Arjun Agerwala…and Louis CK returned to track music for the new season of his F/X show Louie, with engineer Adam Tilzer.

Dance-pop duo Chromeo have been tracking vocals for their new album via the AKG C12 at Flux Studios in the East Village. Lawson White has been engineering the sessions in Flux’s Dangerous Room, with Dan Cherouny assisting.

Also at Flux…Mack Avenue jazz band The Hot Club of Detroit spent several days tracking live in the Dangerous Room and then moved operations into the Fabulous Room to mix their upcoming record – with engineers Todd Whitelock and Damon Whittemore…Whitelock and Whittemore also engineered new recordings by Tia Fuller, with Dianne Reeves…Fab Dupont mixed the new album by Nigerian-American rapper ElDee, and has been producing the upcoming record by French jazz singer Cyrille Aimee. Aimee and band have been at Flux for rehearsal and pre-production, and will track the full band recording in Dangerous, and then mix with Fab in the Fabulous Room.

Amanda Palmer’s fan-funded album will be released on 180-gram vinyl

You’ve probably heard about Amanda Palmer‘s amazing million-dollar-Kickstarter campaign? Well, the artist brought her fan-funded “Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra” two-LP set to Masterdisk to be cut on vinyl. Scott Hull cut the reference discs (pictured).

Also at Masterdisk…Hull mastered the 35mm Cast Recording – produced by Dean Sharenow and Ryan Scott Oliver for Sh-K-Boom Records; Tony Dawsey mastered the new Corey Jon album, Galactic Soul, which was recorded and mixed by Steve Dickey at Daddy’s House Recording; Vlado Meller mastered Kerrie Roberts’ new album Time For The Show (also mastered for iTunes); Andy VanDette mastered Mother Mother’s latest – produced by Ryan Guldemond and Ben Kaplan for Last Gang Records; Randy Merrill mastered the new Allison Weiss album Say What You Mean, which was produced by Chris Kuffner and mixed by Ross Petersen; and Matthew Agoglia remastered Craig Wedren’s album Baby plus some demo tracks.

Singer/songwriter Sean Wood has been working on an LP with producer/engineer Mario McNulty. The session has had them working at Studio G and Magic Shop in Brooklyn and Incognito Studios in lower Manhattan where McNulty is mixing the record.

McNulty has also been producing an EP for rock band Romans tracking at The Bunker in Williamsburg, and mixing at Incognito.

Bell Biv Devoe were in NYC working on new material at Area 51 with producer Bink Dawg and engineer Alberto Vaccarino. Also at Area 51…Ice T & CoCo were in with DJ Dehasse working on a project for Reach Global Music in sessions engineered by Michelle Figueroa…RCA Records teen sensation Jacob Latimore has been working on his upcoming LP with producers Joe Boom and CJ. And Universal Records artist Paypa has been finishing work on his upcoming album release with Figueroa.

Also notable: Area 51 recently upgraded its North Room to Pro Tools 10HD, and added a mastering room – run by engineers Roey Shamir and Rob Murray.

Christian Gibbs, of Lucinda Black Bear, C.Gibbs, The Droves and now…Motherwell Johnston

Ingrid Michaelson recorded the next in her “Army of 3” music video series at Grand Street Recording, covering Rhianna’s “We Found Love” with producer Chris Kuffner and Ken Rich engineering.

Also at Grand Street…Christian Gibbs’ (of Lucinda Black Bear) new band Motherwell Johnston recorded basics for their debut album with Ken Rich engineering and Jake Lummus assisting…Trumpet player Shareef Clayton (Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Wynton Marsalis) recorded basics for his upcoming album with Rich engineering and Bobby Mosier assisting…Rich is mixing the full-length debut by Sara Syms, which was recorded at Dreamland and features Andy Stack on electric guitar, Nick Africano on acoustic guitar, Brett Bass on bass, Spencer Cohen on drums, and Misty Boyce on keys…Williamsburg rockers, Velta completed a video for the song “Cheat On Me” which was recorded and mixed by Tomek Miernowski.

Nearby, winger/songwriter Kevin Garrett was recording his upcoming album with Charles DeChants at Excello Recording in Williamsburg.

Also at Excello, Jamie Block recorded with producer/drummer Dean Sharenow and engineer Hugh Pool; Brooklyn garage-rock duo Twin Guns tracked an album with producer Lase Salgado, and Pool recording to 2” tape; jazz guitarist Joel Harrison has been recording with engineer/mixer Oliver Palomares, rock band Pale Moon Gang was in to track on 2” tape with guitarist Richard Dev Green producing and Pool engineering; and singer/songwriter Lorraine Leckie has been working on an album based on the prose of art-critic Anthony Haden-Guest, with George Jackson producing, and DeChants engineering.

Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire has been recording his new album, Huzzah, for his Universal Republic imprint, Peel Off Entertainment at Rough Magic Studios in Greenpoint.

Also at Rough Magic, Kyp Malone’s new Rain Machine LP is still under way…Rough Magic chief engineer Alby Cohen has been tracking the LP; Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet has been mixing up a storm between Neneh Cherry’s ”Dream Baby Dream” and “Nova”, his new collaboration with London dubstep artist Burial; and shot and recorded their “50 Shades of Grey read by Gilbert Gottfried” spot.

New York MC Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire

And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to

Next Page »