Since John and Martina McBride opened Blackbird Studio in 2002, the Nashville-based space has become world renowned for being the home of recording projects for Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Chris Stapleton, Jack White, Zac Brown Band and many more. Blackbird has been able to build such an elite client base because of their attention to detail, fervent love of incredible analog gear and the will to employ the latest technology to keep sessions moving in the right direction.

Last year, studio client Niko Bolas (Neil Young / Johnny Cash) asked about the studio's transition to Avid Pro Tools | HDX, in hopes to achieve more headroom while working at Blackbird. Recognizing their client's needs, Blackbird saw a chance to improve their studio space and reached out to Vintage King's Chad Evans about the logistics of the situation and purchasing the gear.

"Nobody wants to go someplace without the best gear," says Nick Shasserre, Blackbird's Network Administrator. "When people see that another studio has upgraded, they’d wonder why you haven’t done it. So for us, upgrading to HDX was definitely the way to go."


Opting to upgrade in seven out of their eight rooms, Blackbird and Evans set about planning the move and working to keep the studio's downtime to a minimum. The transition to Avid Pro Tools | HDX included installing four HD I/Os and two HDX cards in both rooms A and D, in addition to two I/Os and a single card for all other rooms except for Studio E, which only employs one I/O in its makeup.

"It was easy. We got our rig at Vintage King and they’ve been great," Shasserre states. "They worked with us and got us a great deal. For the install, I think it took us 30 minutes to swap out the cards. Maybe three hours to do everything for one room. It was really easy."

By working overnight, Blackbird and Vintage King were able to install the Avid Pro Tools | HDX rigs in each of the studios and complete the task in time for the next morning of sessions. "I worked on Monday on an older system, and Tuesday on an HDX system," says Kevin Becka, Co-Director of Education at the Blackbird Academy "What I really noticed was this — the converter latency came down by 25% overnight."

If you're interested in finding out more about making the transition to Avid Pro Tools | HDX in your own studio, we're here to help. Please feel free to contact our team of Avid experts to talk about the best ways to upgrade your current set-up or install a new one from scratch.


Photo Credits (From Top To Bottom): Blackbird Studio C by Max Crace, Blackbird Studio E and Blackbird Studio D by CJ Hicks