The console upgrade, replacing an aging analog desk formerly owned by locally-based producer and musician Mitch Easter, also gave Lachot an opportunity to perform a complete makeover on his control room, which has been in operation since 1983. The venerable analog tape machine has been moved to another room, he reports, and to accommodate the Pro Tools system, he ordered a custom chassis layout for his 1608. "Our chief engineer, John Plymale, who has been working at the studio for 15 years, really insisted on it. He said, 'These days you're looking at the Pro Tools computer constantly.' He's tired of straining his neck, looking off to one side and listening with one ear. There's just no place to put the mouse or the keyboard on consoles, so we came up with this idea and worked with our API rep, Brian Charles of Sonic Circus, to get the job done."
As standard, the API 1608 and the expander each incorporate twelve 550A three-band equalizers and four 560 ten-band graphic EQ modules, but the custom chassis offers a further benefit, notes Lachot: "It's really brilliant, because it has given us sixteen additional 500 Series module slots. We have a total of fifty-six 500 slots in the console. I have thirty-two API preamps, twenty-eight API EQs, and four API compressors, and I want to add more API modules, but it would also be cool to have a handful of other stuff as well. There is this 500 series renaissance going on right now, which API supports with their VPR Alliance." Like the centrally located DAW, he points out, the 500 Series modules are in front of the engineer and within arm's reach. "You don't have to twist around or go to the back of the room to check out a different preamp on a vocalist. I think it's great. You can fit so much stuff right there in the console."
It was the sonic quality of the classic API mic preamps that attracted Lachot to the new 1608, which incorporates the company's discrete electronics topology and is built to the same exacting standards as the flagship Vision and Legacy Series consoles. "I always loved the sound of those preamps," he shares. Further, he adds, "It's amazing what facilities this console has. It's a lot like an old 2488, but with a much better system of aux sends and monitoring."
Plus, he says, "I could have looked at a used console, but having owned a used analog console for a number of years I was ready for something new. And it's a company that's here in America. I drove up to Maryland twice to visit the factory while they were building the console - I like that. The company is under really good management. I feel like they're going to stay around, which is saying something about a quality analog console manufacturer."
The room makeover also included a total rewire and new racks for the outboard gear Lachot has collected over the years, as well as new in-wall main monitors. The noise floor in the studio is noticeably lower since installing the API console, he says. "We hooked it all up and there's absolutely no 60 cycle hum anywhere, because everything on the console is balanced. It's remarkable."
Lachot also runs a studio design and acoustic consulting firm, Wes Lachot Design, that reworked the acoustics at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, and has designed studio facilities for such high-profile clients as Saddle Creek Records' ARC Studios in Omaha, Nebraska and Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium in Kernersville, North Carolina. But it wasn't until the recent upgrade that he had the opportunity to improve his own room's cosmetics.
"It's a typical working studio and stays fully booked, year round, doing mostly rock bands, although we also have a good jazz scene around here. I've never invested a lot of money in the cosmetics, although it has been a good sounding room since I design studios for a living," he comments.
He's very pleased with the custom 1608 chassis, he says. "There's a really nice desk space in the center of the console for all our computer stuff. You could even drop in a Pro Tools controller. I think it's the wave of the future for analog consoles to have a digital center section."
You can see Overdub Lane's new API 1608 console at www.overdublane.com
Automated Processes, Inc. remains the leader in analog recording gear, with the Vision surround production and Legacy Series recording consoles, the DSM Series rack-mounted mixers, and the classic line of modular signal processing equipment.