Studio B started back in 1997,when our then-landlord in Concord doubled the rent, ( this was the height of the late-90's high-tech boom) and threw in an 8' x 12" room with a 6' x6' closet as a consolation. At first we just used the space to repair and store stuff , but after a while we thought it'd be fun to make a little vocal overdub booth.So we put in a cheap Mackie board , a couple good mic pre's and compressors, and offered it to clients who needed a cheaper space without all the features of the A room.
When we moved in 2000, it made sense to expand the size of the rooms to where clients could make good recordings and get reasonably good mixes in Studio B alone. An automated Yamaha 02R gave us a couple good years of service, and we gradually upgraded the gear to where it felt like a reasonable blend of cost vs. quality. The 02R never really made everyone happy however; the automation was not always reliable, and sonic problems arose when the mixes got track-heavy.
In the spring of 2002, we took a big plunge and added the Sony DMX-R100 digital board, which outperforms the 02R on every level. Automated mixes are much more easily executed and recalled with this board, and the sonic quality has impressed everyone. It's a whole new ballgame to be able to store a mix, in whatever state of completion, on a floppy disk, and know that you can re-load it days, weeks, months later and have everything come back the way you left it! The other wild aspect of the Sony DMX is that it allows us the option of mixing projects in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, so you can now hear that guitar solo start behind you to the left and end up in front of you to the right! The B room's five ADAM speakers and Yamaha subwoofer are placed accurately about the room for the maximum surround sound experience.
One of the cooler aspects of this board is that digital effects can travel to and from the console in the digital domain. With this feature, the analog-to-digital converters and the digital-to-analog converters of effects devices are bypassed, resulting in reverbs and effects that are significantly more open, noise-free and clearer that they would be otherwise. We've recently added seven new top-shelf effects processors -- a Lexicon 91, Kurweil KSP-8, two TC Electronics M3000's, a TC Fireworx, an Eventide Eclipse, and an Eventide H3000 D/SE. All these devices, with the exception of the H3000, operate as digital in/out boxes with the new console.
Another recent arrival is a pair of ADAM S3-A monitors, a three-way powered speaker employing a unique folded ribbon tweeter. These speakers have won praise worldwide for their accuracy, long-term listenability, and wide sweet spot. Engineers who've used these monitors at Wellspring keep commenting on how well their mixes translate into other listening environments.
Even in a digitally-oriented room like Studio B, often a great piece of analog gear can do the job better. To this end, Wellspring recently added 14 channels of analog outbaord eq, including a Manley Massive Passive, a Cranesong IBIS, class A graphic and semi-parametrics by Sphere and Siemens, and some Coleman Rogers-modded Rane parametric equalizers. In addition, Studio B has plenty of premier analog compressors with 4 Distressors, a Cranesong STC-8 , and a FATSO ( literally, a "full analog tape simulation organism" - we didn't make this up!) While this parade of model numbers may seem confusing, when you hear the results, your ears will be smiling.
Studio B's recording space is 14' x 13' and the control room is 14' x 18'. There are 12 mic lines and two stereo headhone returns betwee the two rooms, as well as dedicated speaker and guitar cable that pass beneath the floor. The console can suuport up to 48 RADAR tracks, or 32 ADAT tracks or ProTools Mix3 and 24 tracks of RADAR simultaneously. In addition to the 24 channels of mic imputs on the Sony console, Studio B has two channels of Earthworks LAB 102 mic pre's, four channels of Neve 1272's, four channels of API 3124's. a stereo Chandler TG-2, and a Univesal Audio 2610 stereo tube pre. These pres's essentially cover the range of textures desired in mic pre's, from clean to fat. All of the microphones from Studio A's mic locker are available for sessions in the B room; if conflicts arise , we've always been able to work it out.
The most recent improvement to the B-room is a Sonic Solutions mastering system, which is used to edit and sequence the final CD that leaves Wellspring for the pressing plant. Sonic Solutions has long been recognized as one of the best systems for digital mastering, and we're excited to offer it in the B-room. Complementing our Sonic System are tasty mastering compressors by Weiss, Chandler, and DBX, along with first call analog and digital eq's by Cranesong, Manley, and Z-systems.
What's the sonic difference between the two rooms? How will a project mixed in the A room compare to the same project mixed in the B room? The A room's analog Neotek console, along with the ample supply of outboard compressors, eq's and effects give the mixing engineer many more choices in "flavors" for sounds, and mixing to the analog Studer tape decks is another "must have" feature in many artists/engineers' recipe for a great mix. On the other hand if analog outboard gear is not high on your priority list, and having a clean,open mix that's completely resettable in the future is important, the B room could well be your best bet. If you're not sure , it might make sense to do a short rough mix of a tune in both rooms and compare the sounds at home. All these changes have made Studio B a viable alternative to Studio A, and we hope you'll consider this room as part of your project with us. Please contact Eric Kilburn at Wellspring for more information.
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