AIX Studios has a couple of beautiful rooms. I designed the studio to be large and comfortable…more like a very nice home theater room than a typical control room. The reason was that I use the room to do a lot of demonstrations. Visitors are treated to a chair right behind the console amidst 5 B&W 801 Series III speakers (yes, I know they don’t actually qualify as HRA according to the JAS, which is why I’m seriously looking at alternatives) and view a JVC Reference Series 60 4K projected image on the perforated 146″ retractable Stewart Filmscreen I have in the front of the room. It’s really a great room and never fails to impress. But the truth is that I’ve never really done that many live sessions in my own studio.
Virtually all of my own projects have been recorded at the Colburn School for the Performing Arts in their Zipper Auditorium. It’s a terrific hall with just the right amount of ambiance AND a really outstanding Steinway Model D 9 foot grand piano. My concept of making records requires everyone to be present at the same time and be able to produce great music. Most commercial records are made by assembling various parts onto individual tracks, rearranged and replaced, mixed, mastered and output. It works and produces some great music but the fidelity isn’t usually up to my standards.
Dominic Robelotto, who is a former student and my long time engineer, designed and wired the AIX Records studio. I have photos of him sitting with a soldering iron at a table striping and tinning wires, building ELCO multipin connectors, and building the electrical panels. He did all of the work and therefore knew all of the interconnections between the studio panels, the patch bays (both digital and analog), and the console. He was my guy and I didn’t bother to get deep into the details because he was always available to set things up or answer any question I had.
But Dominic was very seriously injured in a freak motorcycle accident about 3 years ago. He left the studio late on a Tuesday and didn’t come back. He spent 6 weeks in a coma, they pulled a large chunk of his skull off (and kept in a refrigerator for 6 months) to relieve the brain swelling, and he slowly…very slowly…pulled things back together. He’s very fortunate to be alive. And I’m very pleased to report that he’s doing great these days.
In his absence, I figured out most of the general configuration stuff in the big room but I’ve never dug deeply into the room to room tie lines, the portable preamplifier and ELCO connections to the analog patch bay, or the right way to get monitoring to work in the iso booth. I just didn’t need to do that…until last week. I had Prince EA in the studio working on a UK social media spot and was confounded by some routing problems. I managed to get through the session using my laptop and an MBox I/O but it was a compromise. It was hardly a stellar showing.
However, after spending a few hours in the studio with Eva, one of the young associates here at the studio, I’m a happy guy. We sorted through all of the confusing labels, sent signals from room to room, and mocked up a typical voice over session. Everything worked…finally. It’s only taken me 9 years to get to the bottom of my own room…but there you have it. I’m feeling empowered.
I love solving problems. I love learning new things. Today, I got a healthy dose of both. Now it’s time to go home and catch some of the Grammys…maybe.