Tucked under the iconic mountains flanking Los Angeles, NOYZR Music’s California recording studio was a well-known music industry fixture before its recent gear overhaul. But now, freshly armed with a Rupert Neve Designs 5088 16-channel analog mixing console and a host of other enviable gear, the studio has doubled down on its mission to authentically animate the musical visions of its artists.

To learn more about the studio’s upgrade, we spoke with musicians, producers, and studio founders Matt Norman and Kellie Curtis.

Can we start off by just hearing a little bit about your studio?

(Matt) We’re obsessed with gear and we love vintage gear especially. We love the high-end capture of really great performances and being able to manipulate sound physically. 

What was the inspiration behind your recent upgrade?

(Kellie) We built the space from the ground up, cutting no corners. We built a full room-within-a-room tracking room and a fully decoupled floor. After everything came together at the end, we had his amazing-sounding room and we wanted a console that would go with it.  

(Matt) We looked at an API for a while, but then this Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console popped up.

(Kellie) Yeah, we both looked at it and were like, that's our board. 

Can you tell me more about the console? It must be amazing if you literally just saw it and both knew you had to have it.

(Matt) Yeah. Every time I walk in here and it's there, it always kind of trips me out. The thing with this console is that it’s got so much head room… I don't know the specs, but it feels like there's no ceiling to this thing—it just goes forever. Everything sounds so big and wide and deep. That's the first thing that really strikes you when you hear it.

What's great with the console is that we have 12 channels that have these amazing inductor EQs and compressors, and then an extra 13 that have mic preamps and the same EQs. So it's pretty much like having 25 channels with processing inside of the board. So, that's really kind of a dream to mix a whole track on one console, essentially, and then some outboard for flavor. 

How was it working with Eric Brody from Vintage King to make this huge upgrade happen?

(Matt) We've been working with Eric for a few years now. He’s the man. Eric, we wish you were the boss! He's the best.

As soon as we saw this console on the Vintage King site, we texted him and we were like, "This is ours, we want this console." So he was like, "Alright, let's make it happen." That process was quite seamless.

Can you tell me a little bit about the decision-making process behind choosing the new monitors for the studio?

(Matt) We started out with Dynaudio BMA15s, then we tried the Barefoots and ended up with the Focal Trio6s. Honestly, it's just the definition. I think the mixes translate better with those. 

As far as the new outboard gear, what are a couple highlights you can mention?

(Matt) The coolest stuff we got was an original Pultec Vintage, the EQP-1A. Then we have a pair of Roger Mayer rm87s that were ripped out of the board that was in the Hit Factory Records’ main room which was actually built by Roger Mayer to make a sidecar. Those things have been on countless records, including a John Lennon solo album. 

As big advocates for physically shaping sound, what are your thoughts on plug-ins? 

(Matt) We work hybrid. I think at this point probably everyone does. I don't use plugins for color too much, but more for surgery. They're all just kind of colors on a palette, right? I think I achieve better results when I physically feel something. But that being said, I also use plugins, but we're maybe at like a 30/70 ratio—70% on the analog stuff, and 30% in the box. 

What are some of your go-to mics?

(Matt) Often the winning combo for us is a Neumann U 67 into a vintage Neve 1272 preamp for vocals. We have a nice pair of Coles that I particularly like for overhead. I recently started using a Telefunken AK-47 that I like using as a kick drum mic. 

Do you have a preferred signal chain for recording? Or is it kind of a per case situation?

(Matt) It's per case. I spend a lot of time talking to artists and discussing concepts to come up with a game plan that's gonna get us there. I've also like, funny enough, worked as an assistant in our own space because we sometimes have crews that bring engineers that they're used to working with and have their own methods. So they're like, “Hey, can you patch this this way?” It’s whatever the project demands and I always like throwing stuff at the wall. It is, after all, an art form.

It's funny because when you wear an engineer jacket too long, you tend to think about it too much like building bridges. You don't want the whole thing to collapse, right? So you gotta respect some rules, but sometimes you need to be reminded that you're trying to make art and it's important to throw things at the wall so that you could just kind of pop up somewhere where no one's gonna expect you.