WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA: Positioned half a block off the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood and tucked into the basement complex of the luxurious Sunset Marquis Hotel, NightBird Recording Studios leverages its prime location and hotel-provided amenities with state-of-the-art gear and a staff of A-list engineers who know how to squeeze every last drop of sonic gold from that gear. The creative vibe at NightBird buzzes and hums at all hours of the day and night, and when the talent needs to recharge, they can swim, dine, drink, or check in at the spa upstairs. It’s a match made in music-industry heaven and has led to NightBird’s incredible client list. That list includes Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Damian Marley, Joe Bonamassa, Kayne West, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Lionel Richie, Roger Waters, Skrillex, Sting, and on and on and on and on (seriously, check out NightBird’s website, you won’t believe it!).
“We cater to all types of clients and artists, and focus on two things: customer service and a very knowledgeable staff,” said Angelo Caputo, studio manager at NightBird. “By working with the Sunset Marquis Hotel, we are able to provide our clients with unparalleled customer service. Whatever a client needs, we can generally find a way to accommodate them. Aside from that, we have some of the best engineers and assistant engineers in the business: they all know the intricacies of the rooms and are very good at making sure our clients get the best sounds possible. A great assistant engineer can make or break a session, and it helps immensely to know we have a crew that we, and the artists, can trust.”
Although Caputo refuses to name names, he can recall sessions where clients spent the first part of their session “watching the latest BBC nature documentary on the big screen” or who went MIA, only to be found later in the hotel’s Bar1200. “But that’s what it takes to get the best takes sometimes: a distraction from ‘work’ that inspires creativity and positive energy. We certainly don’t discourage those kinds of things. We want everyone to feel comfortable and ready to create.”
In addition to a well-appointed Pro Tools HD system with Avid HD I/O and gobs of analog outboard gear with names like API, Avalon, Chandler, Drawmer, Manley, and Neve, NightBird’s Studio B is now the beneficiary of ATC SCM150ASL Pro mains. “Our old mains were great for thousands of sessions since we built Studio B in 2003,” said Caputo. “In my experience, the larger ‘main’ monitors in bigger studios used to be all about volume and impressing the clients or A&R, but the engineers and artists generally wanted to work with smaller monitors more suited to their tastes. In the last few years, however, we began to notice a shift in what monitors engineers, producers, and artists wanted in the room. With the sounds that have been coming out in the last five years or so and looking into the future, our previous mains simply weren’t able to handle both the volume and – with increasing regularity – fidelity required to be both a great modern main monitor and a great modern mixing monitor.”
He continued, “We wanted to get something that would excite our clients (and us!) and handle some more modern music styles and workflows as well. A mix and mastering engineer colleague of mine, Manuel Jimenez (Arimaka), recommended we take a look at ATC, after telling me how much he liked his ATC 25’s. I spoke with Ron Cheney at RSPE to set up a demo of the 150’s, and were really impressed with how well they worked in our particular room and how many checkboxes they ticked for our needs. I was impressed with how well the sound and overall imaging stayed consistent across the line. This made it an easy decision, and we went with the largest ATC model that would work well in the room.”
NightBird paired the new ATC mains with two Subwoofer Pros 18-inch subwoofers, which are manufactured and distributed in alliance with ATC’s U.S. distributor, TransAudio Group. “Zach Winterfeld at TransAudio Group recommended the Subwoofer Pros,” Caputo said. “We demoed them with the ATCs and the system sounded great – and I trust Zach’s recommendation.” Since their installation, the new ATC/Subwoofer Pro system has been used by Patti Austin, Jesse J, The Band Perry, Noah Cyrus, LL Cool J, Diane Warren, Chris Lane, Playboi Carti, Mike Will, Skrillex, Usher, and Murda Beatz. “The ATC’s are able to handle the volume without an issue,” Caputo said. “As an engineer, I appreciate the clarity at low volumes – in both the top end and the bottom end – in particular when paired with the Subwoofer Pros subs. These monitors do not need to be pushed hard to get the detail we’re looking for, so it makes it much easier for an engineer to track and mix at various volumes for longer periods of time without getting fatigued.”
Caputo concluded, “I’ve been at NightBird for just over seven years now, so I can’t speak for the early days of the studio, but what I can say for sure is that the Sunset Marquis Hotel just above us was a big attraction for a lot of the musicians and artists in the early days. The location and proximity of the hotel certainly played a role in NightBird’s early successes, as well as the talent that (founder, and resident composer & producer) Jed Leiber attracted to the studio and hotel. The days of booking three months to track a record have been replaced with shorter sessions with a lot more artists throughout the year. Since then it’s been about keeping up with the trends in the industry and providing a place for new, old, and up-and-coming artists to be creative and make great records. It’s also not about reels and maintaining tape machines anymore. We have a fast, reliable, and secure network, with backup and archive systems in place that assure our clients that their data is safe and secure. We are always coming up with ways to improve the studio, whether it’s getting a new pair of ATC monitors in one room or getting a new killer custom microphone to upgrading our Wi-Fi and cellular systems or getting great coffee from Italy (seriously, coffee is important!).”
ABOUT TRANSAUDIO GROUP
TransAudio Group, founded by industry veteran Brad Lunde, has quickly become the premier U.S. importer/distributor and/or U.S. sales and marketing representative for high-end audio. Success hinges on TransAudio providing dealers and end users with a higher standard of product expertise and support far beyond the norm.