BROOKLYN, NYC: Brooklyn correspondent Justin Colletti visited with 30-some studio owners for our new neighborhood studio tour series. This first installment takes a closer look at a handful of North Brooklyn’s small to medium-size studios that are affordably-priced for indie artists, friendly to freelance engineers and operate without a traditional console.
Room Rate: $400/day (House engineer available)
The Pencil Factory is an epicenter of Greenpoint’s creative culture, and the home of the rehearsal and recording studio, Rough Magic.
This multipurpose facility set up shop alongside a cadre of mastering studios, record labels and artist’s workshops in 2003, and has gone on to play host to a diverse clientele featuring names like Soulive, Talib Kweli, MGMT, The Fiery Furnaces, and Beirut.
In addition to its regular practice spaces, a room-rate as low as $400/day secures a Pro Tools HD-equipped studio capable of capturing 16-tracks of live audio as well as a full suite of instruments and front-end gear from API, Focusrite, Amek/Neve, Neumann and AKG.
Rates: $45 per hour, $400 for 10 hours (including engineer)
In the fall of 2006, Brian Forbes and Keith Parker began building a suite of handsome, wood-floored live rooms in East Williamsburg’s industrial park. Parker tells us that their new home-base, Gallery Recording aims to create a “warm and relaxed atmosphere that offers amongst the best bang-for-your-buck in NYC.”
To complement its ample live rooms, the Gallery’s DAW-based control room runs an 18-channel Pro Tools system and houses a respectable cache of rack gear, microphones and instruments that might best be described as “contemporary classics.”
These two attentive producer/engineers have built up a promising demo reel that includes sound samples from indie and major label artists As Tall As Lions, Rae 6 and Emily King.
Contact for rates.
Grand Street Recording’s Ken Rich has had a long and varied career as producer, engineer, and bass player, working with artists like Joseph Arthur, Julia Darling, The Madison Square Gardeners, Ward White, The Compulsions, Morley, Lucinda Black, Tracy Bonham, and Laurie Anderson. Just as impressive is his studio’s wide variety of vintage instruments, amps and mics.
“We’re certainly affordable to most independent artists”, says Rich, “and the studio is very freelance engineer-friendly since the routing and patchbay are so thoughtfully set up. GSR is also a great mix room. We have a boutique collection of compressors and limiters, two classic spring reverbs, as well as Lexicon and Bricasti multi-effects, and the room itself provides a great and also accurate listening environment.”
More than housing a sizable collection of some of the industry’s most coveted microphones, preamps, and compressors, Grand Street Recording is a playground for musicians, and home to a startling assortment of vintage drums and boutique basses. Rich continues:
“Our mic collection is extensive and we feel that capturing acoustic instruments is one of the things we do best. We seldom record with EQ, but rather select the correct microphone and placement for the instrument. The studio is very musician-centric as we have a huge assortment of vintage instruments that are at the disposal of all of our clients. People often get very inspired when the come in to the studio to try different instrument and amp combinations in order to create new sounds, and it is our job to capture those moments.”
“There are also really good sight-lines between the rooms so that even if people want each instrument isolated, they still feel that everyone is in the same room. The staff at GSR is friendly, knowledgeable, quick, and musical. Usually we can have a band tracking within an hour or so of the time that they walk into the doors, so we can get a lot of recording done in a day.”
Rates: Studio with Engineer: $70/hr (discounted blocks: $260/4hrs, $500/8hrs, $700/12hrs); Studio with Assistant Engineer: $50/hr (discounted blocks: $180/4hrs, $330/8hrs, $450/12hrs)
The Brewery isn’t the first studio venture for Andrew Krivonos and Oladipo “Dot Da Genius” Omishore. These young producer/engineers outgrew their project studios quickly, with Krivonos sharpening his skills in his private mix room, Southfall studios, and Dot making a name for himself in his home studio by collaborating with Kid Cudi on the breakthrough single “Day N’ Nite.”
Now in a new suite on the East Williamsburg/Bushwick border, everything about The Brewery’s design shows the mark of a 21st century studio. A Control 24 digital board and front-end racks from API, Avalon, Neve, Presonus and Vintech sit in the center of the room, ready to integrate with a Pro Tools HD system or Ampex MM1200 2” 16-track tape machine.
“We strive to set the future model for recording studios in New York,” Krivonos says. ”We understand the limited recording budgets of most and want to provide big-commercial studio service at a realistic price.”
To that end, The Brewery have supplemented their already competitive rates with creative pricing packages like the “Early Bird Special” and a unique “$949 Rock Block,” that promises a whole lot of tracking at a pre-set price.
Fortunately, Krivonos knows running a studio is more than a simple equation: “The most important factor of our studio is our staff engineers. People will come back to you no matter how shitty your studio is if you can give a great product. The product — our mixes — are what keeps our clients coming back, more than anything else.”
When asked if about their emerging specialties, Krivonos says: “We do a lot of pop, rock, R&B, and hip-hop. Producers love our space for the monitoring and freelance engineers love it because of the functionality and affordability.”
Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn-based audio engineer and music producer who’s worked with Hotels, DeLeon, Soundpool, Team Genius and Monocle, as well as clients such as Nintendo, JDub, Blue Note Records, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visit him at http://www.justincolletti.com.