Location: El Monte, CA
Key Crew: Kent Verderico
Console and Pres: 84-input DDA-AMR 24-analog console with Uptown fader automation — highly modified with Inward Connections 690 discrete summing amps, 36 modified channel strips including mic pres, Summit Audio 2BA-221, Demeter H series, Calrec PQ-1347
Monitors: NHT M10 with custom crossovers, 75-watt custom reference amp, Mackie HRS120 subwoofer, Auratone clones
Outboard: Universal Audio LA2A, 1176LN, dbx 160XT, Calrec DL 1656, Alesis modified 3630, Drawmer Dual Gate DS 201, Lexicon MPX550, Yamaha SPX90, FX500, Sony modified CE-775
Mics: AKG 414 TL2, C451 EB, SE Z5600A, Marshall MXL-V77S, MXL-600, Shure Beta 52, SM57s, SM58s, Oktava MK319, Optimus PZM
Computers and Hardware/Software: Apple 2GHz Dual Processor G5, 19" Princeton LCD, MOTU 2408mk3, PCI-424 FireWire interface, Apogee AD-16X, DA-16X, Mini-DAC, Avastor HDX FireWire 800 drives, Unitor 8 USB MIDI interface, Apple Logic Pro 7, Pro Tools 7 LE, 40MHz PC running DOS for System 990 Uptown automation
Backline: Soundcraft 760B 24-track 2" analog recorder, 48-track E-mu Darwin System, Countryman type 85, Hammond T-200 with mini Leslie, 1974 Fender Rhodes Stage 88, Marshall JCM-800 100 watt (4 x 12 Celestion loaded), Roland A-33 MIDI controller
Studio Notes: Stashed away in the San Gabriel Valley, 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, sits a seemingly typical suburban house that just happens to be a studio oasis. Complete with a 2" analog 24-track and a 9-foot DDA-AMR 24 console that resides in what used to be a living room, Blue Ribbon Studios is one of Southern California’s more unusual operations — a professional home studio with a penchant for big studio sounds, that operates with an ear tuned towards independent artists. The goal is to offer dedicated service to those who can’t necessarily afford the higher rates of similar facilities.
For projects that require live tracking, Blue Ribbon Studios is functionally a “weekend-run” studio, as studio owner and engineer Kent Verderico splits his time between his own operation and that of being chief engineer at Santa Monica’s own Emoto — where his energy is expended primarily recording session musicians and mixing spots for television and radio commercials during the standard “workweek.” Working in a field like commercial recording demands attention to detail, fast studio chops, and stylistic versatility; Verderico brings the lessons learned under pressure to the more relaxed, musician-friendly atmosphere of BRS.
The ability to get a killer drum sound is undeniably one of the more difficult obstacles facing any home studio, and one reason why many home studio owners do at least some tracks at pro studios. BRS took this into account and uses hardwood flooring, non-parallel room shapes, and custom acoustic treatment to avoid the “home studio sound.” BRS overcomes another Achilles’ Heel of the home studio by making the control room long enough to provide honest bass monitoring, resulting in mixes that translate well to the outside world.
BRS’s goal is to provide a relaxed environment without resorting to relaxed standards, and keep rates competitive while taking advantage of engineering experience. Their website is at www.blueribbonstudios.com.