“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.”