Waterford, CT, October 2017 – Power Station New England, founded in 1995 and located in picturesque Waterford, Connecticut, has commissioned an historic Neve 8068 MkII and an SSL 4064G+ console as part of a massive expansion set for a fall grand reopening. At the center of the 2017 rebirth is the main recording space with signature 35-foot dome, plus four isolation spaces and the historic control room A, which now features the vintage Neve. An entirely new Studio B mix room features the SSL.
Power Station NE recreates the exact design and acoustics of the original Power Station in New York City, which was designed and built in 1976. Power Station was one of the most awarded recording studios in history, thanks to an acoustical design that contributed to hundreds of Gold and Platinum records. The studio was renamed Avatar in 1996.
Console legend Ed Evans was on hand for the commissioning of the Neve 8068, which was originally installed at Electric Lady Studio in NYC in 1979, and most recently at Pachyderm Studios in Minnesota. The console played a role in historic recordings by such artists as John Lennon, AC/DC, Van Halen, and Nirvana.
"I was quite careful to not change the character of the original 8068, since it is one of my favorite designs by Neve,” says Evans. “My goal was to add some needed functionality to make it more compatible with the way people work today.”
The new Studio B, known as the Mix Room, features the SSL 4064 G+, which previously resided at Royaltone Studios in Los Angeles, later renamed Kung Fu Gardens by owner Linda Perry. Grammy and TEC Award-winning mix engineer Bob Clearmountain commented, “I believe the 4000 G+ series of SSL consoles to be the best mixing desk the company ever produced -- or any other company, for that matter.”
Additional equipment incorporated into the 2017 reopening of Power Station New England is a prized collection of gear supplied through Vintage King Audio. Highlights include Pro Tools 56-channel HD-X; 56 Channels of AVID HD i/o; API 3124, Mercury m72, Chandler TG-2, and Shadow Hills mic pre’s; two EL-8x Distressors; Retro STA Level; SPL Transient Designer; and microphones: Bock 251, two Coles 4038s, two Flea m49s, Neumann m269c, and two Royer 121 Ribbons.
ABOUT POWER STATION NEW ENGLAND
Power Station New England is located within the Sonalysts, Inc. media complex, which houses five full production stages suitable for large scale concert rehearsal and multi-camera video production. Full crews, HD cameras and post-production are available onsite. The largest of five shooting stages is 15,000 sq. ft. with a 42’ ceiling. Waterford is located in scenic Southeastern Connecticut, surrounded by water on three sides and intersected by two major interstate highways. Situated two hours from New York City and Boston, Waterford features a variety of accommodations and numerous fine restaurants.
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“I was pleasantly surprised that Power Station New England decided to augment their already impressive capabilities with a new Mix Room,” says audio and studio designer Ed Evans. After a total refurbishment and install of the Neve 8068 in Studio A, Evans was further engaged to maximize the performance of the SSL purchased for the Mix room.
The console, a 1994 SSL 4064 G+ with Ultimation, was purchased in Los Angeles. Its last owner was Linda Perry, who used it after she bought the studio from Royaltone, which she re-named Kung Fu Gardens. This particular console has had numerous hit recordings pass through it, and preserving its heritage was of particular interest to Evans.
Along with recommendations from engineers and producers, it was clear that the SSL had an appeal that PSNE could build upon, not only for the console’s historical past, but also for its sonic and operational value. The SSL 4000 Series was historically a turning point in big board design. It had as its core philosophy optimum usability, and its flexibility showed engineers easier, and often new ways to work.
Barry Bongiovi, no stranger to SSLs, having managed the Power Station NYC (Avatar) and Hit Factory, amongst others, and as engineer was an early user of the SSL 4000 series. He remembers, “The first SSL in Power Station in NYC was a game changer. We had toyed with other add-on type automation systems, and they fell short. SSL was the first to make it work, brilliantly. And with the addition of Total Recall, well, itwas untouchable -- so many hits, so many Grammys. Of course you have to have the talent behind the board, but that SSL gave engineers options, and the ability to create.”
Also familiar with that classic sound and function is TEC and Grammy-winning engineer Bob Clearmountain, who also owns a vintage SSL 4000 series console. Clearmountain says, “I believe the 4000 G+ series of SSL consoles to be the best mixing desk the company ever produced, or any other company, for that matter.”
Ed Evans continues, “PSNE has classic sound from a classic board, and this particular one has a mix of Series E and Series G EQs, four stereo patchable VCAs, and all the bells & whistles that this vintage board can provide. The speaker select system has been expanded to accommodate more small and midfield monitoring, as well.”
In addition to the computer system that is stock with this console, a Tangerine computer upgrade will be added. The Tangerine provides an interface between the SSL fader automation and ProTools. This makes the 4064 G+ a controller when working with ProTools. To increase flexibility, it can be utilized in various ways, with the audio in ProTools, or audio going through the SSL faders.
Effectively, PSNE’s SSL offers both a new and an old way to work, using the prized console in an advanced and more modern way. It saves its data on a separate Mac, which allows for editing off line. Also, there is connection from the SSL to ProTools that allows it to look like an analog 24-track. In this way, if the engineer wants to run the automation old school, with the standard SSL commands like “PLAY MIX FROM HERE”, one can put the Pro Tools where it needs to be on the timeline. The interface is 2Tools by Alan Smart, no novice to all things SSL.
Of course, keeping the SSL up to spec is a consideration. Evans explains, “A large number of spares were procured from Keith Skerrett at Recycled Audio, and fader refurbishment was handled by Phil Nickolay at Virtual Earth Professional Audio. Years of SSL experience from these guys makes the new ownership less stressful.”
A great room surrounds a great console. The Mix Room wiring expertise was provided by Dave Berliner from Redco. “Every time I work with Dave, it’s a pleasure,” says Evans. “The design incorporates a woody, rustic look and feel that is seamlessly melded with the impeccable acoustics. This beautifully designed new room combined with the legacy of this console is sure to result in hits well into the future.”
Power Station NE was fortunate to have Ed Evans involved in the 2017 expansion. Evans is one of the key original contributors behind New York's Power Station, the iconic studio PSNE is modeled after. As the Chief Electrical Engineer at the original Power Station, Evans brought details and info to PSNE not only from his stint at PSNY but from 35 years of experience and dozens of other studio designs and installations. The Neve installation incorporated a number of updates and modifications to the vintage 8068 that were engineered by Evans.
"I am quite careful to not change the character of the original 8068, since it is one of my favorite designs by Neve. My goal was to add some needed functionality to make it more compatible with the way people work today," Evans explains.
Some mods to the console include the addition of Switchable Phantom Power, Discrete Buss outputs, Dim function to the monitors, EMT remote control, and wireless Talk Back integration. These, as well as ideas that were carried out by Vintage King, like side car Buss inject, multiple external monitor and speaker select, and expanded multitrack metering, make this a dream console.
“Since I knew the original Power Station pretty well, I was asked to spearhead the wiring upgrade” Evans continues. “It made perfect sense, since the console & patch bay were a complete rewire anyway. Dave Berliner from Redco was invaluable in seeing this through.
“We modernized and added wiring to augment existing Mic panel paralleled signals with direct wiring, and expanded the standard stereo powered headphone system and Private Q to include Hear Technologies 16 channel system.
“Tie lines were both simplified and expanded for line level, guitar speaker level, and CAT6, future proofing for things like Dante. Now all are patchable to send pretty much any signal anywhere.”
To finish the vintage vibe, the Big Red speakers were updated and reinstalled.
“The originals were great for their time,” Evans continues, “though some would argue that they were a bit lo-fi. I was able to modernize and update these venerable units. I don’t want to give it all away, but they are bi-amped. The full details are as much a function of the installation and tuning process as the gear, so Power Station NE is preserving some secrets.
“As they say, the job isn’t over ‘till the paperwork is done, and I am compiling a complete service manual for the console, as well as an Ops manual for the studio itself, as the tie lines, and upgraded systems might be intimidating to an unfamiliar engineer. He’ll have something to read on the plane!”