The incredible Skyline Studio is our headline space, and we also present another Italian studio before heading off to South America.
Ivano’s studio is based in Turin, Italy, and looks incredibly new and polished – because it is, having only been completed in September 2018. Unfortunately, you can’t hire it…
MusicTech: Tell us about your amazing studio, Ivano…
Ivano: Skyline Studio is my personal studio – it isn’t open to the public, but it’s available for all pro musicians that collaborate with me. The whole structure, room dimensions and acoustic treatments are based on my needs as a producer, composer and guitar player. It is conceptually a modern-sounding facility, created to obtain a flat acoustic response, with 32 analogue Ins set up, always on, without the use of a patch bay. Every connection is directly plugged into my two MOTU 16As. I really don’t need gear like compressors or EQs, as all the signals are treated inside the box.
What are your main pieces of gear?
Skyline Studio’s ‘heart’ is really simple: good-sounding rooms; plenty of mics, guitar amps, cabinets, guitars; and 16 mic preamps connected straight to the converters. On top of that, we have Yamaha NS10 monitors with a Yamaha amp; Genelec 8040A monitors; 2x MOTU 16A interfaces; Focusrite ISA 428 mic pre; SSL Alpha VHD-Pre; Audient ASP880 mic pres and a Kemper Profiler amp, plus Mogami and Klotz cables.
Which DAW do you use and why?
Steinberg Cubase is my preferred DAW. I usually work with Logic Pro and Pro Tools, but Cubase remains my first choice. My work flow is more immediate and allows me to capture ideas with very few clicks of the mouse. When you work in TV music, you need to be fast! With Cubase, the music-production process is very natural and easy: compose, record, mix and master a song all in-the-box. It’s all part of a single process and, for me, this is best for art and creativity.
What’s your favourite gear?
The ISA 428’s sound on acoustic guitars. I often use this preamp with a couple of Neumann KM 184 mics to obtain silk on highs and fat solid basses.
How much do you use your studio and how is it used?
If I’m not touring, I spend almost eight to 10 hours per day in my studio – a lot of time! My studio is 80 per cent focused on my own music production (my guitar albums, TV and film scores, pop production, etc) and the other 20 per cent is dedicated to the production of music of my friends, producers and musicians.
What’s next on your shopping list?
A Softube Console 1 Mk II. It intrigues me, and seems a nice way to work. I miss working on a console, and Console 1 in a small way reminds me of that. But I have to test it before integrating it into my current setup.
What’s your dream gear?
I wouldn’t mind having a nice SSL console, but nowadays, it doesn’t really make much sense to own one. The music business has totally changed.
What’s your top production advice?
It’s obvious, but – be yourself. You have the keys to put a new sound in this world. Do it!
Top studio advice?
Leave space around you. Leaving space behind and in front of the studio monitors will help you work more comfortably, and mix and play more cleanly. Consider the sound of your room, and then the gear and other studio stuff. A good-sounding room is the secret of a good sounding mix!
Manuel’s studio shares a few similar deign elements to Skyline’s – best let him tell us about it now!
MT: Tell us more about your studio, Manuel…
Manuel: Fonderiefoniche is in Asti (Piedmont, Italy). It has been here since 2006 and is in the basement of my house.
What gear do you have?
It’s built around a UA Apollo interface, plus a UAD-2 Octo DSP card and RME converters. An SSL X-Patch SuperAnalogue router is used to manage some outboard I use in tracking and mixing/summing. There’s a vintage Studer 089 console from the late 60s, an LA-610 MkII channel strip, Digidesign Pre, two custom-made Pultec-style matched EQs with a L+R/M+S matrix, compressors (TL Audio 5021, ART Pro VLA II, Alesis 3630) and other processors including a Tech21 SansAmp PSA1, Line 6 POD X3 Pro, and Alesis QuadraVerb 2.
I use two workstations: a Mac Pro for analogue routing via the SSL, and running Pro Tools 11. Then a rack-mounted Win 10 Xeon hosts Pro Tools 12 native and the UAD-2 DSPs. I’ve a PreSonus FaderPort controller for transport, and automation. Mics include Neumann, AKG, Oktava, MXL, Shure, plus a Sonarworks measurement mic. For monitoring, I use an RME DAC, a Mackie Big Knob controller, and an Adam Audio nearfield system (A7X and Sub7); AKG and KRK headphones.
Wow! Tell us why you chose Pro Tools?
It’s the DAW I feel most comfortable with. Even today, it’s a universal standard when you have to exchange/share sessions. The question isn’t: “Which DAW do you work with?”, but: “Which Pro Tools version?”
What’s your favourite piece of gear?
Probably my Universal Audio LA-610 MkII. It’s my first choice for lead vocal tracking and every vocal recording is ready to sit in any mix… It has a rich and warm texture, and sounds dynamically consistent. In a word, it sounds ’finished’ right away. Sometimes I feel the need to bypass the opto compressor, and replace it with a 1176-style one; I’ve a Warm Audio WA76, or I patch the UAD-2 emulation on the Apollo Console.
How is the studio used?
I would define myself as a part-time sound engineer: I share my time between industrial engineering (acoustics, vibrations, quality, environment, forensic engineering) and music. I offer different levels of service, from a simple recording, mixing and/or mastering engineer for a couple of hours, up to a full artistic production.
I’ve been a musician, arranger and producer for more than 25 years, so one of my typical jobs (and the one I most love) is to offer a completely produced finished work, starting from a rough idea. Often people come to me with some words and a bunch of chords and go back home with a complete finished song, arranged, played by professional musicians, recorded, mixed and mastered.
What’s your dream gear?
An SSL AWS 948 console and an adequate number of high-quality conversion channels would complete the ‘dream package’.
Acoustics, first of all. Creating a listening environment you can trust, where every decision you will take will be the right one. Get advice from a pro, unless you have professional skills in acoustics. Maybe you will have to postpone the purchase of that nice Massive Passive, but it will be worth it!
Interviewee Fernando Morales
We’ve seen some extraordinary spaces, and now we’re off to South America to visit Estudio Prorec, a professional facility with some of the best equipment on the continent. And your host is Fernando Morales…
MT: Tell us more about your studio…
Fernando: The studio is located in the northern part of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The construction began in 2008 and in 2014, it had a complete rebuild and equipment update. Today, I am very proud to say that it is the one of the few studios in the area that offers such a pro level of equipment and acoustic treatment.
Give us your gear list…
Here goes! Monitoring and DAW: ATC SCM25A Pro, Yamaha NS10 Studio (Bryston 4B), Apogee Symphony 16×16, Dangerous Monitor ST. Preamps: Millennia STT-1, Crane Song Flamingo, Avalon AD2022, Focusrite Red 1. Outboard: API 5500, API 2500, Distressor EL8x, dbx 160A, Peterson StroboRack, Bricasti M7 (coming soon!).
Mics: AKG C414 XLS II matched, Neumann KM184 matched, Petrúngaro Condenser, Royer Labs R-122, 3x Sennheiser MD 421, 4x Shure SM57, Beyerdynamic M 160, Beyerdynamic M 88 TG, AKG C451 B, AKG D112, Shure Beta 52A, and Neumann TLM 102.
What’s the Apogee system at the front?
It’s an Apogee Symphony 16×16 – its converters have an amazing quality. It’s not a large studio that needs a lot of channels and Symphony was perfect for us.
What would you say is your favourite piece of studio gear?
The ATC SCM25A Pro and Crane Song Flamingo. We are the first recording studio in Argentina to have these monitors. They sound amazing and they are perfectly calibrated for the control room. I fell in love the first time that I heard the Flamingo – amazing sound, natural, rich, musical, and ‘in your face’. Everything sounds awesome with this preamp.
How much time do you spend here?
I live in a house next to the studio!
What’s the next item on your studio shopping list?
We’re waiting for a Bricasti M7 and next on the shopping list is the Pendulum Quartet II. I think that another channel strip of this quality can contribute so much to our studio.
Is there anything that annoys you about your setup?
One of the ideas that I have is to change the location of some equipment in order to have easier access to it.
What are your favourite instruments?
I’m a keyboard arranger and session musician, so my favourite gear is workstations like the Korg Kronos and Yamaha Motif.
What’s your best piece of advice for other music producers?
When you’re planning a great production, you have to be surrounded by only good musicians with good energy and, of course, good equipment. It’s a team – all parts make the final results. The equipment is just tools, but it is nothing if you have a bad musician with bad energy. Good energy, good musicians, good equipment.
What advice do you have for people building a studio?
Use your ears, not your eyes, when choosing the equipment.
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