Thomas Johnson, owner/founder of Detroit’s new Effigy Studios selected the 48-input API Legacy Plus console for his studio.
Detroit, MI (October 14, 2004)– After desiring for years to build his own recording space, Motor City native Thomas Johnson is delighting members of his hometown’s illustrious musical community with the grand opening of his Effigy Studios, a sizable facility three years in the making.
“Twenty years ago, I started to get work recording bands around the Detroit area,” recalled Johnson about the beginnings of his career. “I later got a job at a Boston studio, and then moved to New York. The whole time I was in New York I was looking to build a studio there until one Thanksgiving when I came back to Detroit. I happened to drive by a building for sale in a great area, stopped in, and bought it. Three years later, we finally have Effigy Studios coming together.”
Designed by Vantine/Guthrie Studio of Architecture in Northville, Michigan, Effigy Studios is a mindfully treated, birch wood-dominated creative recording environment where musicians can relax. According to Johnson, there’s no ‘cabin fever’ vibes at his studio. “I wanted musicians to be able to stay here for 16 hours without becoming depressed,” he laughed. “I really strove to make sure that it was comfortable and not just some ‘sound laboratory.'”
However, just because Effigy is comfortable doesn’t mean that it doesn’t look and feel extraordinary. The 1400 square-foot studio features 17-foot ceilings with no parallel walls in the main room alongside a multi-purpose isolation room and conjoining vocal booth. “It’s all about the acoustics,” Thomas said. “We spent three years designing and building this studio. We would build a little, go back to design, and then build a little more. We took a lot of time making sure that these rooms performed acoustically – and that they looked cool, too!”
In Effigy’s large control room, directly visible from all three rooms, Johnson elected to install a 48-input API Legacy Plus analog console–currently loaded with 32 channels–and a Digidesign Pro Tools|HD system with plenty of I/O. “I’ve had nothing but great times with API gear,” explained Johnson about his choice of the Legacy Plus. “It’s great, especially for recording live music. In selecting the board, I looked for a great, solid board where the main concern is the signal. When I found the API, I was like, ‘yeah, that’s it.'”
As a self-described minimalist when it comes to recording, Thomas carefully chose each piece of equipment at Effigy for maximum usefulness instead of ‘wow’ factor to impress potential clients. “I took a minimalist approach to outfitting my control room,” he explained. “I didn’t need a big ‘wall of sound,’ stacks of gear, flashing lights, and levers everywhere.”
With gear such as the ADL 1500 stereo tube compressor, two dbx 160vu compressors, a Daking mic pre-amp/gate, dual Drawmer DS201 gates, an Empirical Labs EL8XM Distressor, a Manley Variable-MU limiter/compressor, and much more, Thomas has more than sufficiently covered his bases. “I just wanted to have my outboard gear under control with a few key pieces with a nice, subtle board that would never degrade the signal,” he humbly says. For capturing the sounds of Effigy, Thomas’s microphone cabinet offers a well-rounded collection of quality transducers from manufacturers such as AKG, Beyerdynamic, Earthworks, Electro-Voice, Neumann, Rode, Royer, Sennheiser, and Shure.
For Effigy’s classic gear needs, Thomas called on Vintage King, a local reseller of vintage outboard processors. “They’re just down the street from us,” he explained. “I’ve known those guys for many years and they helped me get the right gear for a great deal.”
In the monitoring realm, Thomas is currently using Mackie HR626 nearfields while settling on his main monitoring system. “We were waiting to get the console installed before auditioning our main monitors,” he reasoned. His main goal, however, is to have what he calls a “cookie cutter” control room, where freelance engineers and out-of-towners can easily become comfortable with Effigy’s sound and setup. So far, it seems as if the locals are becoming quite enamored with the studio.
“We’ve tried really hard to make the control room a very standard room,” tells Thomas. “So far, even without the mains installed, it’s getting great reactions. A lot of techies and engineers from the local recording scene have been stopping by saying encouraging things like, ‘Now I don’t have to send people to L.A. anymore. I can bring them here.’ So that’s good–that’s the whole point of Effigy.”