Manley, Dangerous, and Blue Microphones Visit Brooklyn via Audio Power Tools – 8/21 at Studio G

August 15, 2014 by  

Three big names are converging on Studio G in Brooklyn this Thursday, August 21st.

Manley Labs, Dangerous Music, and Blue Microphones will be the guests of Audio Power Tools that evening. Beginning at 7 PM, those who love their audio can get their hands and ears on some powerful gear.

Exclusive event specials sweeten the pot for those who like what they experience. It’s all happening at one of New York City’s flagship facilities – what more could you ask for?

Attendance is free, but be sure to RSVP to to secure your spot!

Studio G is located at 44 Dobbin Street, Brooklyn. Take the L to Bedford or the G to Nassau. Or jet pack.

Come one, come all to Williamsburg this Thursday.

Come one, come all to Williamsburg this Thursday.


Review: The 135th AES Convention — Which Direction Did This Year’s Show Go?

October 22, 2013 by  

Moving forward.

Back at the Javits...with a more welcoming air this time around.

Back at the Javits…with a more welcoming air this time around.

For everyone involved in the business of recorded music and sound, the onset of the 135th AES convention in New York City had question marks aplenty. Would this tradeshow – which serves as the spiritual hub for everyone involved in professional audio – represent one step ahead or one step back?

A Challenging Precedent

Following the double dose of disappointment that many attendees experienced over the last two years, it was reasonable to brace for another negative in 2013.

After all, the 133rd that took place in San Francisco last year felt marred in many a way: by seemingly sparse attendance, a solid but uninspiring technical program, and some conspicuously absent exhibitors — all while Hurricane Sandy  ravaged the East Coast in historic fashion.

In 2011, the 131st AES convention similarly took the wind out of our collective sails. There was major construction going on at NYC’s Jacob Javits center, which relegated the gradually shrinking show to a gloomy corner of the complex, a good half-mile away from the technical program and other special events. The result was a sinking feeling for everybody involved before they even set foot on the floor.

In Wall Street talk, the analysis would be that the AES show was “trending downward.”

In the Moment

But lo and behold for everyone who made it to Manhattan’s Far West side last week, and sensed an energizing uplift in the air before they even printed their badge: AES felt good again.

Back where it belonged in the Javits’ main hall, sunlight spilled over visitors as they entered the center’s main atrium — a healthy harbinger of the refreshed attitude that pervaded the show.

Once inside, that intangible buzz of energy that everyone – exhibitors and visitors alike – long to feel pulsed like a Moog oscillator, and never let up. On the exhibition floor, the return of Avid felt like a fundamental cornerstone that had been put back in place. Meanwhile, all the microphones, monitors, compressors, limiters, and 500 modules that an engineer could reasonably eat filled the aisles.

Yes, as before, virtually no other DAW’s besides Pro Tools were representing, and the plugin developers whose code rules today’s pro audio workflow remained disproportionately few and far between. Still, for those on the lookout there were enough GUI’s to go around.

Down below the show floor, the work of the planning committee, overseen by AES President Frank Wells, Executive Director Bob Moses, and a dedicated team of organizers made the Technical Program pay off in a big way. Attendees faced some serious choices when trying to sift through the appealing array of special events, workshops, special tracks, master classes, and other activities which accompanied the paper sessions and engineering briefs that are always there for the strictly hard-core. (Editor’s Note: On October 25th, the AES announced a five-year high in in registrants for the 135th — 18,453 — a 16% increase over the last NYC convention.)

Emerging Energy

Beyond the meticulously planned aspects of the convention, of course, is where you get the real idea of where the industry is going. It’s the thousands of spontaneous conversations that break out, whether it’s at the Javits by day or the cross-borough studio parties that liven up each night, where you learn the true tenor of the industry.

The minds behind audio took center stage at this year's AES.

The minds behind audio were the stars at this year’s AES.

Time and again, the recurring motif was this: Most audio professionals are busy as hell, and getting busier. Mixers, engineers, and producers who previously felt embattled by massive change in the music industry are now taking matters into their own hands by finding new ways to make profitable partnerships.

Clever new concoctions of business models involving composers, licensing, artists, audio post offerings, and myriad other multimedia permutations revealed themselves. These weren’t just dreams, but real revenue streams – many people’s innovative plans were well in motion, and already bearing fruit.

And let’s face it – this is NYC. We want to make sure our global guests know there’s more to our town than the Javits. It seems like every convention here we up the nightlife ante, and just 12 months removed from a paralyzing storm the Big Apple displayed its nonstop drive once again.

There’s heavy audio activity all across the five boroughs, but as nightly events at Mission Sound, The Brewery, Studio G (see the party pics below), and many more confirmed, the rapid expansion of Brooklyn is on – its mannered rivalry with Manhattan has firmly established NYC as the world’s Twin Cities of recording.

Don’t Look Back

There are those who note that the annual AES isn’t what it once was. And if you compare it to the year 1996, for example — when I first attended the show and was overwhelmed by the seemingly nonstop aisles of gear taking up multiple exhibition halls at the Javits — they’re right.

But hardly anyone had an email address or Website then either, tracking to tape was still the norm, and the first #1 single to be recorded, edited, and mixed completely in Pro Tools (“Livin’ la Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin) was still three years off.

In the meantime, don’t bother talking about the big ole’ days of the show to the legions of young faces that were all over the 135th. This year’s convention attracted a lot of new blood, and most of them don’t know or care what the business used to be.

They’re moving forward. And after four dynamic days in New York City, it looks like all of audio is doing the same.

-    David Weiss

Studio G drew in audio experts from across the land.

Studio G drew in audio revelers from across the land.

In living color

(l-r) Insurance ace Molly Dearth and producer/guitarist Brad Williams get colorfully close.

What's so FUNNY?

What’s so FUNNY?

A mastering trio meets up.

A mastering meetup: Jessica Thompson of The Magic Shop, Heba Kadry of Timeless Mastering, & The Lodge’s Sarah Register

Super producer Dave Tozer and guest soak in the vibes.

Super producer Dave Tozer and guest soak in the vibes.

Studio G co-founder Joel Hamilton (l) and Audio Power Tools' Dan Physics (r) flank an amigo.

Studio G co-founder Joel Hamilton (l) and Audio Power Tools’ Dan Physics (r) flank Jon Ruest, Eastern Sales Manager for Apogee.

Don't forget the GEAR.

Don’t forget the GEAR.

(l-r) Blue Wilding of Audio Power Tools, Bob Clearmountain, and Joel Hamilton converge

(l-r) Blue Wilding of Audio Power Tools, Bob Clearmountain, and Joel Hamilton converge

Alby Cohen (l) and Ari Raskin (r) surround a sonic buddy.

Alby Cohen (l) and Ari Raskin (r) surround Debra Cohen.

Julian Silva (center) of On Air Mastering, at a crossroads.

Julian Silva (center) of On Air Mastering, at a crossroads.

Studio G's Tony Maimone (l) had solid gold BLAST.

Studio G’s Tony Maimone (l) has a solid gold BLAST.

Behold the wall of sound in Studio B.

Behold the wall of sound in Studio B.

Dramastic Audio represents!

Dramastic Audio represents!

(l) Hector Castillo and (r) Jeff Hill crunch a compatriot in their own G studio.

(l) Hector Castillo and (r) Jeff Hill crunch a compatriot in their own G studio.

Strike a pose!

Strike a pose!

Laugh or drum? Universal Audio's Amanda Whiting.

Laugh or drum? Universal Audio’s Amanda Whiting.

(l-r) Joe "Moose" Demby and Alby Cohen on cue.

(l-r) Joe “Moose” Demby and Alby Cohen on cue.

(l-r) Christian Rutledge and Hector Castillo -- listening in.

(l-r) Christian Rutledge and Hector Castillo — listening in.

(l-r) Resident genius John Klett of Nonlinearaudio, Gail Terelle, and sound designer/mangler John Terelle

(l-r) Resident genius John Klett of Nonlinearaudio, Gail Terelle, and sound designer/mangler John Terelle

The view from Studio A's SSL 8048 G+

The view from Studio A’s SSL 8048 G+

(Left and Center) SonicScoop's Janice Brown and Justin Colletti wind it down with a friend.

(Left and Center) SonicScoop’s Janice Brown and Justin Colletti wind it down with a friend.

Peace out until 2015!

Dimitri Wolfwood of Ronin Applied Sciences sez: See you back in NYC in 2015!

Event Choice: The Love Machine Project EP Release – 6/13, DROM, NYC

June 6, 2013 by  

Big voices in intimate rooms are a powerful combination. That’s exactly what’s on the way for NYC’s sonic thrill seekers on Thursday, June 13th, when the Love Machine Project celebrates its EP release at the East Village venue DROM at 7 PM.

The Love Machine Project officially goes public in the East Village on Thursday, June 13th.

The Love Machine Project officially goes public in the East Village on Thursday, June 13th.

The Love Machine Project converges one of the city’s most adventurous singers, the soul/electro-rock vocalist Candice Anitra, with the rhythmic outpourings of the LA-based multimedia artist Mustafa “Effortless” Shakir (a.ka. M*E).

Together, they’ve created the Love Machine Project, debuting their duo with a five-song EP that forms an advanced amalgam of soul, rap, electronica, and hip hop.

The tracks on the eponymous EP crossfade constantly from light to dark, providing percussive motivation from sources organic and entrancingly synthetic. Anitra and Shakir’s hand-picked band included bassist Brady Watt (Talib Kweli, Res, Curren$y), guitarist Wes Mingus (Wu-Tang Clan, The Revelations), and drummer Jason Mills (Stomp, Beetroot). The prolific producer/engineer Joel Hamilton (Pretty Lights, Black Keys, Matisyahu, Dub Trio) refined the tracks at Brooklyn’s Studio G.

From past experiences hearing Anitra live, expect an arresting performance at DROM this coming Thursday. Meanwhile, the addition of M*E – in town from the West Coast for this auspicious occasion — should provide an agile counterbalance that puts the evening over the top.

In addition, the South African singer/songwriter Jesse Clegg’s NYC debut will get the night off to an expressive start.

Tickets: $10 in advance/$15 at the door

Preview the Love Machine EP at


Music Spaces Hit Hard By Sandy – Here’s How You Can Help

November 8, 2012 by  

Music community spaces including WFMU, The South Sound, Norton Records, New Amsterdam Records and Tape Kitchen were devastated by hurricane Sandy last week. Find out what you can do to help.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard last week, it brought with it 90-mph winds, 40-foot high waves, and in some areas, 15 inches of rain or over 2 feet of snow.

All told, Sandy caused roughly 7.5 million power outages, at least $30 billion in damages and over 100 deaths in North America alone.

Although charity organizations large and small, including The Red Cross, Occupy Sandy, Rebuild Staten Island, and Red Hook Recovery have mobilized in the hardest-hit areas, parts of the northeast still struggle to come fully back online.

Currently, expectations are for over $20 billion in lost economic activity – a full $12 billion of which will be concentrated in New York City alone.

So much of this damage was caused before the hurricane even made landfall. Perhaps most devastating of all were the rising tides caused by the storm’s surge, which exceeded all expectations and brought catastrophic flooding to low-lying areas, far ahead of the winds and rain.

An Overflowing Canal Destroys Dozens of Studios in Gowanus

Andrew Schnieder, Mike Law and Jeremy Scott were among those who were caught off guard by the early floods.

Their studios, Translator Audio and The Civil Defense, were part of a newly-opened 7,000-square-foot music space called The South Sound. Barely two weeks before Sandy hit, they enjoyed a spirited grand opening along with the inhabitants of about a dozen rehearsal spaces and small production rooms that shared the building.

Destruction at The South Sound

The worst-case scenario in their minds was that several inches of flooding might damage carpets and force them to turn down business for a couple days as they cleaned the place up. Just to be extra-safe, they stacked expensive microphones and other hard-to-replace items high up on shelves and the tops of furniture.

In the end, it did no good.

The last thing they imagined was for a 5-foot wall of water to come crashing into the building with enough force to turn over furniture, break solid-wood doors in half, and throw a full-sized piano from one side of a room to the other.

Toxic floodwaters from the Gowanus Canal had quickly turned the parking lot into a freestanding body of water. This put insurmountable pressure against the newly renovated building, and eventually, a sturdy steel grate buckled and gave way, letting torrents of saltwater gush in.

Everything that mattered was picked up by the currents or completely submerged: Consoles, tape machines, and entire racks of gear.

But they weren’t the only studios to be damaged in the area. Mark Spencer’s Tape Kitchen, just a few dozen yards from the banks of the Gowanus was devastated as well.

Although Spencer had a little luck – he had access to some storage on the second floor and could stash some things there – the majority of gear and personal items couldn’t make it up to relative safety. The entire studio, along with Spencer’s car, was essentially destroyed.

Translator Audio control room

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the music community has begun to band together around these rooms, offering them help to get back on their feet.

Joel Hamilton of Studio G brought his crew together to try and help salvage some rarest pieces of vintage gear from The South Sound, and studios like The Bunker have opened their doors to sessions displaced by the damage.

If you’d like to help in an even more straightforward way, each of these studios are accepting donations to help them stay above water, so to speak, as they begin to re-book and rebuild.

Donations for The South Sound, Translator Audio and The Civil Defense can be made at here, and a benefit page for Mark Spencer and Tape Kitchen can be found here (and here for donations).

Floods Damage Thousands of Rare Records in Red Hook

New Amsterdam Records is a non-profit label that gives 80% of revenues directly to their artists. Just this year, they moved into a 3,000-square-foot space in Red Hook, and spent six months converting it into a new multi-use record label, warehouse, office, venue and rehearsal studio.

New Amsterdam HQ after the flood.  All rights reserved by NewAmsterdamNY.

Sandy hit this space hard as well, soaking amps, vintage synthesizers and more than 70% of their catalog of discs. It also destroyed essential documents and partially submerged their donated Steinway grand piano.

This performance space and record label specializes in jazz and new classical and has programmed shows that featured the likes of Dan Deacon, Nico Muhly and tUnE-yArDs. They are now accepting donations through their hurricane relief fund and have high hopes for rebuilding.

Nearby, Norton Records‘ old red brick warehouse was ravaged by a full four feet of water with enough pressure behind it to bend their thick metal doors.  

Billy Miller and Miriam Linna founded Norton over 25 years ago and have been collecting and reissuing raucous and rare mid-century garage rock and R&B ever since.

Ultimately, thousands of rare records were soaked in the flooding. But a meaningful portion of them may be salvageable. Norton Records has a call out for volunteers, and so far Miller says that well over a hundred have come to their aid.

Those who can lend a hand are encouraged to call 917-671-7185 or email And put “VOLUNTEER” in the subject line.

For those who want to contribute financially, an undamaged shipment of new Norton releases is scheduled to arrive and go on sale November 13th. Sounds like a good time for some record shopping.

Saving Norton Records after Hurricane Sandy from Dust & Grooves on Vimeo.

Storm Destroys Transmitters at WFMU and Leaves Station a Quarter Million in the Hole

Music spaces don’t need to flood themselves to be put out of business temporarily.

Atlantic Sound Studios, Joe Lambert Mastering and ishlab studio, which all occupy the same waterfront building suffered no direct damage, but had to do without power for several days, like so many New Yorkers.

They recovered quickly when power came back, but not everyone was so lucky.

Ken Freedman (WFMU General Manager) bikes in Hoboken. Photo by Chris Costa.

At WFMU – one of the most eclectic and influential community radio stations in the country – both FM transmitters and a whole bank of live-streaming servers fried due to brownouts.

Manager Ken Freedman says that the “real problem” is that the station’s power didn’t go out all at once. “A drop in voltage is worse than a blackout,” he says, and it left some of their essential equipment beyond repair.

After 12 hours of complete radio silence, temporary web-streaming stations were set up in home studios in New York and New Jersey, and by November 5th, WFMU was on the air again, finally broadcasting from one of its two downed transmitters.

The damage to the hardware itself is only one-half of the problem. Freedman expects that replacements and repairs on that front will set the station back $100,000

This shortfall, however, is only compounded by the fact that the station’s annual Record Fair, a multi-day fundraiser that attracts hundreds of vendors and thousands of record collectors, was cancelled due to the storm. The event, which is usually responsible for a sizable chunk of revenue for the small, community-supported non-profit went from fundraiser to $150,000 loss.

WFMU Record Fair Cancelled

Between these two challenges, WFMU finds itself nearly a quarter million dollars in the hole, and in the midst of what Freedman calls a “financial disaster.”

As bad as it sounds, the station has been through times just as trying, and they hope to make it through again. WFMU is now hosting the aptly named “Hell and High Water” fundraising marathon and needs all the listener support it can get.

If you’re not a fan yet, start listening now. WFMU is a true grab-bag of broadcast diversity and a welcome respite to the homogenized Clear Channel radio empire.

It’s also one of the last deeply relevant community free-form radio stations standing, with die-hard fans like Matt Groening, Ric Ocasek, Lee Ranaldo, Lou Reed, Jim Jarmusch, and the late Kurt Cobain.

And if it’s going to survive this storm, like the other music spaces mentioned above, it’s going to need your help.

Do what you can.

Justin Colletti is a producer/engineer, professor and journalist who lives in Brooklyn. He is a regular contributor to SonicScoop and edits the musician magazine Trust Me, I’m a Scientist.

The South Sound

Ravaged MCI 528 channels at The South Sound

Keyboards at New Amsterdam. All rights reserved by NewAmsterdamNY.

Tape Machine at The South Sound


Two Studios For The Price of One: Translator Audio & The Civil Defense Join Forces at South Sound

October 18, 2012 by  

South Sound is the newly-opened home to more than a dozen rehearsal spaces and small production rooms on the Park Slope/Gowanus border of Brooklyn. It also hosts two longtime NYC studios that have banded together to share an expansive new live room, and become far larger than either studio could on its own.

Over the past ten or fifteen years, we’ve witnessed the indelible rise of a Do-It-Yourself ethos in the music industry.

But for all the benefits of that philosophy, it appears that as the music industry and the general economy finally emerge from a multi-year slump, the careers that have grown, flourished, or even just held their ground, have rarely belonged to those who have decided to “go it alone.”

Instead, the people who have been thriving in the new music business are increasingly those who have sought allies and founded meaningful communities. And that trend is continuing to grow.

The new South Sound tracking room

As a case study, enter the new South Sound, a 7,000 square-foot collection of more than a dozen rehearsal spaces and small production rooms. It’s capped off by a beautiful new large-scale recording studio. Two of them, actually.

More and more studios have been expanding in this way.

Saltlands in DUMBO seems to add new private rooms seasonally. Both Engine Room Audio and Fireplace Studios in Manhattan have a flagship recording space with several smaller production suites each. Meanwhile, Studio G in Williamsburg has grown to 4 impressive rooms that sprawl across two neighborhoods, which are kept busy by a small handful of regular engineers and sub-tenants.

But what makes The South Sound unique is that its central large-scale tracking room is shared by two independently operated control rooms: Translator Audio and The Civil Defense.

“I’ve seen similar situations where one main studio has satellite feeds to other room,” says Andrew Schneider of Translator Audio when I ask him what inspired the idea. “But I’d never seen this exact idea where two complete studios are being fed by one live room.”

“What I really wanted to have was a studio that wasn’t compromised by the state of the industry,” Schneider says, with a laugh.

“That started us brainstorming on how we could achieve that – How we could have a room that’s big enough to record a rock band – with real estate prices in New York City what they are and with budgets going down.”

So, after Schneider was priced out of his lease in DUMBO, he teamed up with Jeremy Scott of The Civil Defense, who had taken over his older, smaller studio in Williamsburg when he had moved out.

Translator’s new control room at The South Sound

Luckily, Scott was looking to upgrade as well, and although the idea was unconventional, he said it made sense to him immediately:

“The way that Andrew and I work, we both spend a lot of time on mixing,” Scott says. “So for half the record or more, you don’t really need the big live room space.”

“It just seemed really natural from the outset. I’ve worked out of a lot of shared spaces, and to make it work this way is even better, because we can work simultaneously.”

And great pains were taken to make sure Schneider and Scott can do just that. In addition to the main live room and its pair of dedicated iso booths, both of the studios – which are mirror images of one another – have their own smaller tracking space: an ample booth with high ceilings and direct sight-lines to the main room.

Sound isolation is achieved through floated floors, along with doubled-up drywall and glass panes with a foot of soundproofed space in-between.

Scott says there haven’t been any problems yet – even though Schneider often works with extremely loud bands like Unsane, and he often finds himself working on projects with an ephemeral, neo-shoegaze tinge.

In addition to Jeremy Scott and his longtime partner Mike Law, Scheider also found a small community of close-knit partners to help fund, manage and build the new space.

New control room for The Civil Defense

One of them, Dennis Darcy, a veteran of the studio construction business who’s done design and implementation for both Manhattan Center Studios and the Blue Man Group’s LoHo Studio, helped bring Schneider and Scott’s vision to life.

Still, “It was a little bit of an experiment,” says Schneider.

“As always, when you’re building a studio you can do all the research and planning and have it look good on paper, but it’s not until you bring up the faders that you know what you’re dealing with. And we’ve been lucky. It’s working out really well.”

Currently, Schneider has managed to book dates on his calendar through June, and Scott’s work is picking up as well, thanks to the new space.

In the past, the two had sometimes used outside studios (Scott often tracked at Martin Bisi’s legendary BC Studio, just a few blocks from the new space) or made do in cramped quarters. Now they’re able to do more than before, and with less overhead.

For Schneider, there’s a simple equation that proves it’s all been worthwhile. “Space: Better,” he says, “Rent: Cheaper.”

The South Sound had its grand opening party on Saturday, but most of its spaces are already taken and are in operation. A couple of rooms however, are still available in the emerging community. Rehearsal room shares start as low as $300/month, with the very largest private spaces going for up to $1,100/month, exclusive.

Justin Colletti is a producer/engineer, professor and journalist who lives in Brooklyn. He is a regular contributor to SonicScoop and edits the online musician magazine Trust Me, I’m a Scientist.

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