We’re in Mexico for our latest studio interview, where today we speak with Ferrer León at Antena Studios…
1. Tell us a little about Antena Studios?
The studio is based on Guadalajara, Mexico. Antena Studios began almost 20 years ago, but we’ve changed our location few times, until settling on this place 2 years ago.
2. What kit are you using?
We have a hybrid studio, that is, we have combined analog and digital systems, analogue mixer with 24 channels, compressors, channel strip, preamps and even a couple of tape recorders only to add saturation and some tape compression, and in the digital terrain, we have Motu interfaces, Mac and PC systems, as well as Cubase 9, Pro Tools 12, Wave Lab 9 and a number of Wave and Sound Toys plugins, among others. Everything’s interconnected through the Patchbay. Also we have a series of microphones that allow us to choose between the different sound colours to get what we want.
3. Which DAW do you use and why?
We use a Cubase 9 system as our principal DAW, because in our experience it is a very reliable, stable system and the algorithms of the VST plugins are not very demanding of CPU, which gives us options to exploit our system more than other systems at high resolutions. In addition, it has a very musical logic in the workflow.
4. What is your favourite piece of gear and why?
It is very difficult to choose just one, but if I had to, I think our Neumann U89 would be one of my favourites, maybe because of the presence, clarity and versatility to work with almost any preamp and source.
5. How often do you spend in your studio per week?
Maybe between 40 and 50 hours per week.
6. How do you use your studio as in are you recording bands, working professionally or just making music for fun?
I am working professionally on it, it’s what I do for living 24/7.
7. What is next on your shopping list studio wise and why?
The list is endless, but I’m about to buy a Warm WA-47 tube microphone and a Focusrite 220. Ideally, I want to change the mixing board in a short time, just because I want to explore and dominate new sonic experiences, and add new “sounds” to the service of music.
8. Anything annoy you about your set-up and why?
Actually nothing bothers me, there are only aspects to solve. For example, we have a 5.1 monitoring system where the central channel and the rear monitors use different amplifiers, which, although we already know how each responds, is not ideal, that is why it is also necessary to match them.
9. What is your dream piece of gear and why?
I love the large format Professional Mixers like SSL, I love the analog and warm sound that impress to the music sound, and I like to feel how to every knob could change the sound on its proper characteristics. I’m not against any of the emulators, I think they are very good and getting better, but if I have the ability to do it originally, authentic from the source, I prefer to do it.
I take the issue of sound very seriously, it’s not romanticism or being nostalgic, that’s why I like to record special effects directly on my tape recorder instead of using emulators. Of course, only if the type of production requires it.
10. What is your top piece of production advice?
I firmly believe that what has helped me most is to learn to listen. From the details of the music to the whole, (Micro-Macro-Micro), it’s imperative to dedicate many hours listening to, and practicing, what the best producers do and try to understand and learn from them. You will often find that with a modest piece of gear and a trained ear you can make high level productions.
11. What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Be very clear about the purpose of your studio and never be discouraged by any negative comments from others about your decision to build your own studio, because it will happen.
It’s a race that requires a lot of dedication, perseverance and perhaps sacrifice, but it is extremely rewarding. It is worth dedicating your life to your passion, not only for the positive impact it has on you, but the people around you who share your passion.