GSI Studios is a new music recording studio located in Midtown Manhattan—something that is increasingly a rarity, offers co-founder and saxophonist Daniel Rovin, who partnered on the facility with co-founders Austin White, a bassist, and multi-Grammy nominated drummer Eric Harland in 2014.

“Our location is about as accessible as it can be,” said Rovin. “We’re right next to Penn Station and accessible to all boroughs. When we closed our [first] location, the logical step for a lot of people might’ve been moving to Brooklyn, Queens or New Jersey, getting a bigger space for the same amount of money. But for us, the musicians we’re keying in on are coming through New York…. For artists and major clients—take Columbia [Records], for instance—they work with us because of our location. ?uestlove worked with us because of our location; he’s at 30 Rock for The Tonight Show and it’s easy for him to come here to record his podcast. It’s important for us to stay in this area and make [location] one of the main draws. Anywhere else in the world, our studio would be small; here, it’s big.”

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Built from scratch, GSI is acoustic musician-centric, and its entire staff comes from a music performance background. Rovin attested that the passion of the musician/engineer is a near-requirement to make it in what can be an especially tough market for commercial studios in Manhattan. “Bottom line is, it seems like studios are closing down by the minute,” he said. “That said, we’re trying to be different from other studio businesses. We can provide not only an ideal location and a state-of-the-art space, but a truly creative environment. We’re really concentrating on bringing in artists that we believe in, too, so we have our own record label [GSI Records]. Our mission is to be different while we further expand our connections in the city and throughout the music industry.”

Featuring A and B studios and four isolation booths, the GSI space is designed to host jazz, rockand more, said Rovin: “Studio A is primarily for tracking, and the B Studio is for vocals; we have four chains that were chosen specifically for producing vocals out of that room.”

With such an emphasis on group ensemble recording, GSI searched for an ideal console, finally setting on the API 1608, with 32 expander channels and 32 mic preamps plus EQ, after much consideration. “The centerpiece of the A room is certainly the 1608,” explained head engineer Josh Giunta. “We chose the console over others because it has an overall ‘warmer’ sound, which is the ethos of with what we do.”

With some desks, said Rovin, “we realized that we would be paying for a lot of features that we didn’t necessarily need to have; meanwhile, we use 100 percent of the API 1608, all the time. In shopping for a console, we kept coming back around to the 1608. Everyone has been really impressed by it, whether they had previously used it or not.”

Giunta noted that they chose a ‘brand-new console’ over several vintage options. “It’s just more reliable,” he said. Also new for the GSI crew is ATC monitoring in Studio A, which was a “big change” from the previous Barefoot monitoring rig. “We switched to ATC [SCM100ASL] monitors about a month ago [in Studio A],” said Rovin. “Our [Barefoot] MiniMain 12 monitors were great speakers, but they were too bass-heavy for the room; we still have MicroMain 27s in Studio B. But for Studio A and in terms of mixing, the ATCs more natural bass is perfect and never overwhelming.”

Serving so many young yet accomplished musicians in the city has directly given the GSI team special insight into what that particular segment of the market needs. And at GSI, two large draws are analog recording and access to specific microphones and recording chains, respectively. “Here in New York, a lot of the hip, younger and Brooklyn bands want to record analog,” said Rovin, remarking on GSI’s Studer A827 analog tape machine. “Having the Studer was a pretty big draw in our old space, and we’re just getting it up and running with it here. Interestingly, it’s something that, when clients come in, they see it and are just really curious; some just like the analog machine being there, even if they don’t use it. Yet I was just talking with a label owner that wants to do an analog session this month ‘without even turning the computer on.’ So, like vinyl, people like the old school ways and vibes.”

“We’ve had some musicians come in early on with the desire to use certain microphones, so we bought them,” said Rovin with a laugh. “For example, a bassist wanted to use the AEA 44 ribbon microphone, so we borrowed one from another studio and I liked it so much that we bought one. As a saxophonist, it’s the only mic I use on my sax now, too. So we’re definitely open to working with musicians on finding gear that they like and want; whether we buy it or borrow it, we’ll get it for you. And that’s the thing with gear: You can spend a million on it today and find a million’s worth of things to buy tomorrow. It never ends.”

GSI Studios
gsinyc.com

Other Equipment Highlights

● DAW: Pro Tools 12 HD
Studio B Console: Avid Euphonix System 5 MC
Nearfield Monitors: Amphion One18; Avantone Mixcubes; Yamaha NS10
Converters: Apogee Symphony, Pro Tools HD (32 channels)
Outboard Preamplifiers: Avalon VT-737sp; Focusrite ISA 828 (8 channels); Retro Instruments 176; Chandler Germanium 500; API 512 (2); Heritage 73 Junior (2); Burl B1; Maag PreQ4; Neve Shelford Channel strip
Piano: Yamaha C6 Grand