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Engineering NYC’s $6m concrete Jungle

Alicia Keys’ recording engineer Ann Mincieli has collaborated with Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) in a bid to create NYC’s ultimate facility: Jungle City Studios.

Jungle City Studios’ founder Ann Mincieli has invested more than ten years experience as Alicia Keys’ engineer, album co-ordinator and studio director; and has worked with artists ranging from Mariah Carey to Usher. She now plans on bringing Jungle City Studios into the “Retro Future/Future Retro” era with a mix of state-of-the-art and vintage equipment. Jungle City Studios opened its doors in January 2011 and is located at 520 West 27th St. in the heart of NYC’s High Line district. Designed by WSDG, The 4,800sqft (445sqm) duplex facility boasts river views, a 370sqft (34sqm) terrace, a 2,400sqft (222sqm) rooftop deck, and soaring 14-foot (4m) ceilings with unique ceiling treatments that also serve as low-frequency absorption. The project has cost a staggering $6m (£3.68m/€4.24m). The 10th floor features two audio production suites (AVID ICON and Euphonix) with iso booths and private lounges; and on the 11th floor there is a 1,400sqft (130sqm) live/control room. Two separate consoles are fitted into Studio A’s control room, which exemplify Mincieli’s ‘Retro Future/Future Retro’ philosophy. An SSL Duality SE 48-input analogue console with DAW control is at the helm, and a rare 1968 EMI TGI12345 Mark III desk – identical to the one used to record many of the early Beatles’ hits at Abbey Road – has been reconstructed from the ground up to serve as the ultimate outboard processor. Mincieli had the EMI desk restored in a bid to bring the ‘60s sound to a new generation of music; and hopes the re-invention of Jungle City will help re-establish NYC as a destination point for major international artists. “The past few years have witnessed a huge shift in our city’s recording community. Major studios like Sony and The Hit Factory closed their doors; not because they weren’t busy, but to take advantage of windfall real estate profits,” she explains. “Many top engineer/producers are confident that they can recreate high-quality sound in their basements. They know they can find larger studios for live sessions in the city, and that they can overdub tracks in their own small iso booths, but those studios are simply incapable of reproducing the audio quality or creative vibe of a full-up, fully staffed, high end studio.” WSDC acoustician John Storyk says Mincieli scoured the city for the ultimate location for her studio; and says the soon-to-be-completed Hotel Americano directly adjoining the studio will be an added bonus when artists are seeking deluxe accommodations during their recording projects. “To maximize the impact of the studios’ expansive North and South picture windows, we floated the custom Augspurger Dual 15 Vertical main speakers in an outsized glass speaker baffle, which created a kind of transparent ‘wall of sound’ between the live and control rooms,” explains Storyk. “The audio sound field is extremely accurate throughout the full frequency range, particularly at the critical low end, which is necessary for many of Mincieli’s demanding urban music clients. Storyk says that creating the 11th floor live studio/control room directly above the two 10th floor production suites presented complex isolation challenges. Extensive analysis, both for the loading capacities of the slab and the isolation boundary detailing, resulted in STC values in excess of 90, which he says is quite high for studios; and this led to spring and rubber isolation elements being brought in from Europe to aid the project.Mincieli says her dream was to create a luxurious, technically impeccable, 21st Century haven for first tier artists, producers and engineers. “By crafting an ideal creative atmosphere and providing every conceivable tool to support their pursuit of excellence, we hope to make a real contribution to the art of music recording, and to help establish New York City as music capital of the world,” she concludes.  Since its opening in January 2011, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson and Bono have all recorded at the facility.