10.01.03: By Steve Harvey
HOLLYWOOD, CA The music production team of Harvey Mason, Jr. and Damon Thomas have launched their Underdog Entertainment venture with the first installation of the new Solid State Logic C200 digital console in a U.S. music facility. Underdog has taken over the former Tracken Place Studios, remodeling an entire floor in Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds' multi-story Edmonds Towers complex in Hollywood.
"We both like to work on different projects at the same time,"
explains Mason. "So we took out a couple of walls, combined a
couple of rooms to make bigger rooms, blew a couple of ceilings out and
raised them, and redid all the acousitic treatments. We've turned
what was a one big room and 5-midi-room facility into a facililty with
four independent tracking and writing rooms, each with a vocal room."
Mason continues, "All the rooms have to be identical and have
the same equipment-the same vocal chain, same keyboards, same
speakers-because we're always going between rooms." Favorite
tools such as ProTools HD, Logic and custom Augspurger monitors are
common to eah room. Two rooms feature Euphonix CS consoles.
The main room recording and mixing room houses the SSL C200, which
was chosen primarily for its recall abilities, knob-per-function
operation and 96 kHz bandwidth. The C200 was a natural
progression for the team, who have logged many hours on the SSL MT
digital console working with a client list that includes Britney
Spears, Justiin Timberlake, Toni Braxton, Luther Vandross, Micheal
Jackson, the American Idol contestants, Faith Evans, Tyrese and Brian
"Most people in our business gave up on the MT as a music console,"
Thomas comments. "We like the ability to recall quickly. We
have so many things going on that we have to be able to move
fast." He recounts that he was instantly struck by the appearance
of the C200. "I saw it in a magazine. It's got lights, and
it's flashy. I said, 'let's get it!' Dave and Harvey
figured out it would work for us."
"It works really well for us to be able to pull the songs back up
instantly and tweak them," confims chief engineer Dave Russell, who
relocated to California from Sony Studios in London, England a couple
of years ago. "You couldn't do that on a 96-input analog board
without a 2-hour recall. Everything you touch on the board is
automated. The fact that I've got 12 sends and returns is
great. There's a minimal amount of patching. Ergonomically,
it's very compact, and it's very intuitive. The automation system
is incredible. All those factors help us with the speed at which
we do projects." But in the end, says Mason, it's all about the
vibe. "Along with trying to build a really good mix room," he
says, "we wanted the feel and the atmosphere in the studio to be really
comfortable and warm and inviting, somewhere that people want to hang
out. We spend 20 hours a day here, so it's got to be right."
Solid State Logic