What happens when you bring together a super quartet of musicians, a legendary engineer and producer to record 7 songs over 3 days in the revered Studio A at Power Station Berklee NYC?
In this article we discover how the sessions worked, how all the creative people worked together in a great studio using a Pro Tools super system put together for the project.
Omar Hakim is one of the most sought after drummers and session musicians of the past four decades. He’s collaborated with artists ranging from Miles Davis and Sting, to Madonna and David Bowie, and he’s infused his sensibilities on hundreds of recordings including several of his own.
Coming off a European tour with OZmosys, made up of Omar, on drums, Linley Marthe on bass, Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar and Rachel Z on keys, the band chose to enlist the services of legendary producer, engineer and mixer, Frank Filipetti, to capture their magic in the studio.
Talking of Studio A at Power Station Berklee NYC Omar explained…
“I’ve made a lot of records here. This is a temple or shrine, if you will, of American music over the last 35 years. The first record I made with Weather Report? We made in this room. Nothing sounds like Studio A Power Station. You put a drum set in this room and it just comes alive. It’s the right balance and blend of beautiful tone.”
The Engineer And Producer
Six-time Grammy winner Frank Filipetti is a world-renowned music producer, engineer and mixer who has been based in New York since 1971, Frank was one of the first engineers to embrace digital mixing. His early credits include Foreigner, Carly Simon, The Bangles, Courtney Love and Rod Stewart.
Frank’s work as producer, engineer, and mixer in film and theatre his credits included Wicked, Spamalot, Disney’s Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, and Gigi. When it comes to film his credits include Mike Nichols’ Working Girl, Postcards From the Edge, The Pirates of Penzance, Across the Universe, Disney’s Enchanted, Pixar’s Cars, and August Rush.
Even though Studio A has a vintage Neve 8088, Frank chose to use the mic preamps in the Pro Tools | MTRX to directly capture the sound of each microphone. He notes…
“If you have great musicians and a great sounding room, you look to the electrical components. The most important thing is the clock and interface. The thing that determines your signal. In this case, we’re using a MTRX.”
The session actually needed no less than three Pro Tools MTRX units for a total of 40 mic preamp inputs as well as 24 line inputs and 40 analog outputs to feed the Neve 8088 for monitoring. Frank told us…
“If I felt that taking the audio out of the MTRX and putting it into the Neve and recording it on an analog tape machine was going to take this to an even higher level, I would have said, 'Folks, this is what we’re gonna do.' I haven’t had one moment’s thought about doing anything like that. We’re listening to the playback and we’re all saying, this is fantastic.”
A Pro Tools S3 was then used to control the MTRX mic preamps via EUCON to set the record levels. The MADI out of the main MTRX fed a Focusrite Red 6 to SRC to 48k DANTE output, which was sent to Power Stations Allen & Heath ME-1 headphone cue system.
The MTRX’s DADman application made it easy for Frank and the team to be able to configure, control and route all signals, link up all three MTRXs to Pro Tools HDX and the ME-1 headphone cue system, which gave the band control over their individual cue mixes all over DANTE. In addition the DADman application gave Frank control over EUCON of the microphone preamp gain in tenth of a dB increments via the Pro Tools S3 control surface. If you would like to learn more about this feature then check out our recent article on using the Pro Tools Control App and the Avid S3.