Heading Downtown

While New York City’s fashionable SoHo neighborhood in lower Manhattan is predominantly known for its designer boutiques, the recording industry still plays a strong role there through the recently-updated Downtown Music Studios.
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New York, NY—While New York City’s fashionable SoHo neighborhood in lower Manhattan is predominantly known for its designer boutiques, the recording industry still plays a strong role there through the recently-updated Downtown Music Studios.

Studio A at Downtown Music Studios houses a vintage 48-channel API console with a pair of custom HPX Main monitors. With two control rooms and two iso booths flanking a 400-squarefoot live room, Downtown Music Studios (linked to the music publishing company Downtown Music Publishing) offers an accommodating space for its clients, which in recent years has included Adele, Sting, Vampire Weekend, Maroon 5 and others.

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Downtown Studios is part of the same company as Downtown Music Publishing, an independent music publisher with a catalogue of more than 60,000 copyrights including John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Hans Zimmer, Ellie Goulding, Mos Def and more. The publishing company was established in 2007, and built a recording studio within the company’s SoHo office space a year later. “Our CEO at the time came from an audio production background as a record producer. At a certain point, it made sense to build a studio with everything we were doing with the company,” Downtown engineer Zach Hancock explained.

At the heart of Downtown’s Studio A is a vintage 48-channel API console, which Hancock said he picked up a year ago when they decided to expand the studio space.

To help control I/O, Downtown Studio’s app developers Ed Diaz and Joe Rosso created an iPad app that can control the console and save settings electronically, despite the API’s analog design.

“The app functions as a user interface, which connects to a microchip; the chip then translates the digital signal from the iPad to the electric voltage that controls the console,” Hancock explained. “This allows you to save routing settings digitally and call them back.”

“People get really psyched about it,” explained Hancock. “There wasn’t a solution like this on the market, so we just built the app and customized it to our console.”

The customized HPX Monitors in Studio A were designed by Martin Pilchner of the Toronto-based studio design firm Pilchner Schoustal International Inc. A set of Genelec 1031As and Yamaha NS-10s are also included in Studio A for extra monitoring options.

Studio A also boasts a combination of analog and digital outboard gear, including two Urei LA-2As, Neve 1084s, a Manley Massive Passive, two Pultec EQs, and a variety of plug-ins by Avid, Universal Audio, Waves and others. Most standard DAWs, including Avid Pro Tools, along with a UAD Quad Omni and Euphonix MC controllers are also available.

“We try to offer a high level of both analog and digital, as most of our clients are excited about analog, but deeply reliant on digital,” said Hancock.

Studio A provides enough gear to record a full band or small orchestra in the adjacent live room. Studio B, on the opposite end of the live room, is used mainly for vocal tracking, writing and mixing.

“Studio B is built for people who want to come in and write a song and cut it in a field of top 40, hip hop, R&B, etc. That room was built for specific things,” Hancock said. Studio B offers clients a Neve 8014 desk with 16 channel inputs and 16 monitor returns. A pair of Genelec 1038s are installed into the walls, with sets of Genelec 1031As, Yamaha NS-10s and Crane Song Avocets available for additional monitoring.

In recent months, Hancock said the facility had hosted some great sessions, including The Roots recording their new album, And Then Shoot Your Cousin, and Miguel was just in the studio to record.

Per month, Hancock said Downtown Studios accommodates between 45 to 70 sessions, depending on the time of year. In between working with clients, Hancock said he and his staff are constantly working to keep up with advancing technologies.
Downtown Music Studios
www.downtownmusicstudios.com