For the last few years, Joey has been working out of a commercial space in Brooklyn dubbed Night Hunter Studios. But when he recently purchased a new house in Dobbs Ferry, New York, he decided to create a brand new private mix room in his guest house.
We recently caught up with Joey to see how his new set-up at Hudson Electric Co. has been treating him. Read on to learn how he worked with renowned studio designer Francis Manzella and teamed with Ryan McGuire at Vintage King to fill the room with a stunning Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console, custom patch bay, and tons of great outboard gear.
Tell me a little bit about your new mix room.
It’s in a town called Dobbs Ferry, New York, which is like half an hour or so from Manhattan. My studio used to be in Brooklyn, but I moved out here to get a little more space. I bought a house with a separate guest house, which I gutted and converted into a studio.
I hired Francis Manzella of FM Design to help with the design. He’s designed a lot of the rooms that I really like, including all of the rooms at Sterling Sound, so I had him come out and check out the space and bounce some ideas around. We decided to go with a really open space and it worked out really well.
Before the move, I was living in Manhattan. I had a commercial space in Brooklyn, but I got tired of going back and forth between the two. At my old studio, I was using an Avid S3 control surface, an external monitor controller, and a bunch of outboard gear. I had a Dangerous summing box too, because I’ve always loved finishing up my mixes out of the box.
But after I moved to the new space, I decided to upgrade to a Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console. I really wanted something that would give me great external summing with automation and recall-ability. I wanted to be able to do my final layer of mixing in analog, but still be able to recall a Pro Tools session and not have to worry about writing down settings or anything like that.
I’ve always been a Neve fan ever since I got into the business. I really like the way the mix bus and the transformers sound. I like that you can push a lot of bass with it and really drive the console as hard as you want. It’s easy to move faders without having to worry about meters. You just have to listen and react to what you hear. It helps put me in that creative realm and gives me the vibe that I need.
In the past, I’ve done external summing on SSL consoles, and to me there wasn’t as dramatic of a change, or as much character as the Neve desk. I really like what it does as an external summing mixer.
The Neve is really configurable too, which is great. You can turn it into whatever you want with the different modules. I have most of my channels set up in stereo, which works really well for hybrid mixing. I usually start my process in the box with all of my routing already set up, which makes moving to the console really easy for stereo bussing. I also have four mono channels set up as well for stuff like lead vocals, 808s and that kind of stuff. It’s a really great desk, very versatile.
Why did you choose Barefoot Sound MiniMain12 monitors?
I’ve used a bunch of different monitors over the years. Before Barefoot Sound speakers, I was using Dynaudio BM15As with a sub, but I needed something that could handle higher levels for the type of music that I tend to work on. Plus, the subs make you second guess yourself. Especially with the space I was in before, the acoustics just weren’t set up to handle it. I was constantly questioning if the subs were a little too hot.
So I wanted to have a monitoring system with coherent bass that I wouldn’t have to worry about level or phase issues. I remember checking out Barefoot monitors way back when they were first coming up. I wound up getting a pair of MicroMain27s, which I mixed on for years. I loved the way that my mixes translated on those and I really got to know them well. So when I moved into the new space, which is the biggest control room I’ve ever had, I knew I needed something with more power.
It was just a natural progression to upgrade to the MiniMain12s. They’re a little bit bigger and have slightly better mids than the 27s. They’re a great solution. You turn these on and you’ve got the full array of sound, right there.
Yeah, I just got those actually. I wanted to have a good-sounding set of near-field monitors that weren’t full-range. I have some boomboxes that are hooked up to the console that I use for reference mixes. But I wanted something that sounds a little bit better and gave me something closer to a nice pair of home speakers.
The ATC SCM12s have been great. I’ve mixed three records on them so far. They lend themselves to the Barefoots really well. When you switch between the 12s and the ATCs, everything is right there, it’s just like the lower octave goes away. The top-end rolls off a little bit, but all of the clarity is still there.
The 12s are powerful, full-range speakers, which is great. But the music I work on tends to have a lot of sub, so I need something that I can check and make sure the low-end is transferring. The ATCs are great for that, and they sound really good too. They’re really enjoyable to listen to. I have them paired with the ATC amp which makes for a killer combo. Though useful, I never liked listening to mixes on my NS-10s.
I’m using the Burl B80 Mothership BMB1 for 32 channels of I/O. The Burl is really handling communication with the console. That’s how I’m sending from Pro Tools into the console, and back from the console into Pro Tools through my Sync HD.
What was the installation process like?
I had Francis Manzella do the physical design. He checked out the room and suggested that I keep a more open, flowing design, kind of like a loft. Originally, I wanted to build a more closed-off space, similar to traditional studios, but he suggested that an open design would be better for the low-end. We kept the ceilings really high, with lots of light, which I love.
Francis also designed custom absorption and bass trapping panels. Then we figured out all of the electrical designing and grounding and stuff. Everything was built from the ground up. We completely gutted the guest house and started from scratch. It turned out great, Francis did a great job.
What was it like working with Vintage King throughout the process?
I worked with Vintage King to select and install the gear for the room. Ryan McGuire was a huge part of the process. He and [Vintage King Technician] Cedric Yee helped me put together a custom patch bay and wiring for all of my outboard gear and the console. They got everything into a spreadsheet and figured out the wiring diagrams. Vintage King was great, they really had everything together.
It’s been great, I love it! There’s been a big improvement to my workflow. It took some thinking to figure out the best workflow. I’m actually still making adjustments to my Pro Tools template and how it interfaces with the console.
My assistant and I figured out the right topology for how we have the console mapped to help me work faster. Now I have the freedom to bus a bunch of different types of instruments to the console. We’re able to get sessions set up quickly, and work out of the box when we want to.
I also have an Avid S1 control surface, with a custom script that lets me interface with Pro Tools. The S1 sits right on top of the console, so I have access to my Pro Tools faders for automation and stuff as well as all of my busses on the analog console, so it works really well.
I really love what the console does to my mix. Depending on the song I can push it a little more for more vibe. I like doing that directly on the console. I try to have everything together and sounding good before it hits the console. But the analog summing and extra character from the analog domain really takes it to the next level.
More mixing. We’ve been at it nonstop. I just wrapped up a new record for a group called Run the Jewels, which is a great record. That one took a while, it’s a big record. I’ve been working on that since before the holidays.
The next thing I’ve got going on is some work with a producer down in Nashville. I’ll be flying out there and working on songs with a writing group, then taking the tracks back here. After that, I’m working on a mix for a project featuring Travis Barker of blink-182.
Photo Credit: Kevin Frias