BB4 Studios, a new high-end mixing and mastering facility in New York City, has opened its doors.
Designed by owner Rafael Planten and multi-platinum producer/engineer Christos Tsantilis (P. Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Mobb Deep, Mos Def), BB4 was created to provide mixers, mastering engineers, producers and labels with a new high-end option for perfecting projects. "World-class" recording equipment for vocals and overdubs are also available onsite.
Also a quality-control expert and accomplished studio designer, Tsantilis' aim was to focus his decades of audio experience into making BB4 "a first-choice room for honing the best possible mixes and masters – accomplished via thoroughly modern workflows within a welcoming environment."
The design objective was to make a neutral room with as flat a sweet spot as possible, featuring high-grade acoustic treatment and wiring, combined with a custom mastering-style console outfitted with a wide range of dynamics, EQs and effects gear, plus a broad selection of plugins.
“Once upon a time, mix rooms and mastering suites were built to the same specs,” Tsantilis said. “But at some point mix rooms had to get bigger, to accommodate the larger tracking consoles that were being brought in. The BB4 approach gets mixers back into a room that’s optimised for accuracy – this is a mastering-grade environment where they can mix. Having this purpose-built environment provides an extreme upgrade in your ability to hear the music, and make much more informed decisions.”
Freelance producers, mixers, and mastering engineers will feel well supported at the studio, BB4 says, as it provides an assistant engineer for all sessions.
BB4’s console was designed by well-known studio designer Ken Capton. Avid Pro Tools 11 and SonicStudio’s SoundBladeHD serve as the mixing and mastering DAWs, respectively, connecting to the hardware and monitors via Prism Dream and Avid HD Omni converters.
Compressors include dual RAD 4K-CS SSL’s, as well as a Manley SLAM!, Tube-Tech CL 2A, Alan Smart C2, TK Audio BC1, and custom 1176. For EQs, there are four channels of Vintech 473, API 553, Nightpro EQ3-D, and a Weiss Eq1-LP/DYN combo. An Orban Stereo Synthesizer model 245e and classic Yamaha Spx90 are on hand for outboard FX. A Manley 16x2 tube mixer is available for summing as well.
Its microphone offering consists of a Manley Reference, stereo Audio-Technica ATM450’s and a Shure SM7B. Mic pre’s are populated by four Vintech 573’s, two API 512c’s and a stereo Melcore AML-27. Hardware can also be swapped in and out at a visiting engineer’s request.
As for the plugins, users can choose from an Eventide Anthology, Waves Diamond Bundle including Platinum, Restoration, and Transform Bundles, Sonnox Oxford Elite, SoundToys with Eleven, Altiverb XL, and Lexicon PCM Native Total Plug-In Bundle.
All mixing and mastering decisions go through the "meticulously-planned" monitoring system, which features a PMC ib2 passive three-way system flanked by dual ADAM Sub12 subwoofers. Bryston 4bst and THX amps power the system, all calibrated by a White Instruments Room EQ.
According to Tsantilis, the installation of high-grade dead soft annealed solid pure silver (4N) wiring – overseen by wiring guru Mike Donahower (Jungle City, Robert Clivilles, Five Towns College) – illustrates the amount of care that was taken to deliver the truest possible sound. “The wiring makes all the difference in the world – it definitely affects the sonic character, depth and dimension that you can hear in a stereo recording,” he said. “We strictly employed Furutech and Oyaide connectors, which are optimised for music by cryogenic freezing. That process changes the molecular makeup of the metal for less distortion, noise and resistance.”
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