Room with a VU(19)

STUDIO NAME: The Dragon CrossingLOCATION: Chesapeake Bay, MDKEY CREW: Bill Plummer, Paul Reed Smith


CONSOLE: 32-channel custom Tonelux system including MX2 summing module, EQ4P, FX2+, CR5.1

COMPUTER WORKSTATIONS/RECORDERS: Sonica AudioLabs Intel Extreme Edition Dual Core 3.4GHz, ADK dual Athlon, Samplitude Version 9, Sequoia Version 9, Maxtor and Seagate SATA hard drives for media storage; TASCAM DV-RA1000


PRES: API 7600, API 3124+, Tonelux MP1, Daking Mic-Pre IV, Marquette-racked Siemens V276

MICS: Sennheiser 421-2s, Sennheiser 421U, Sennheiser 409s, Sennheiser 509, AEA R84s, Shure SM7B, Electro-Voice RE20, modified AKG “The Tube”, modified Microtech Gefell UM92.1 S, Soundelux U195, Neumann U87s, Neumann U47, Neumann U67, Neumann U47 fet I, AKG D12, Shure Beta 91, Røde NT-4

EFFECTS AND DYNAMICS PROCESSORS: Kurzweil KSP8, Lexicon PCM-91 with 480 card, Eventide Eclipse, Marshall Time Modulator, SPL Transient Designer 9842, Tube-Tech CA 2B compressor, Daking FET Compressor II, Neve Portico 5043 stereo compressor, Neve Portico 5042 Tape FX, API 2500 Bus Compressor, NIP 3000 prototype control room monitor, dbx 165As, Dolby 361s

CONVERTERS: Apogee AD-16X, DA-16X, Apogee Big Ben clock, RME MADI, RME ADI-648 MADI-to-lightpipe converter, RME ADI/S, RME Fireface 800

AMPS: Dumble Overdrive Special 50W, assorted vintage Marshall 50s, Sewell Blistertone 100, Sewell Texaplex 50, Rock and Roll Doctor Rockaire 50, 1959 Fender Tweed Bassman, several Koch amps, silver face Super Reverb, Soldano preamp, two Leslie 147s

KEYBOARDS/MODULES: 1959 Hammond C3, Minimoog Voyager Signature Edition, Nord Electro II, Nord Lead 2, Roland XV-5080, Waldorf Micro-Q, SE Electronics SE-1

GUITARS: Lots of assorted PRS electrics, early ’60s Martin D-28, Bourgeois dreadnaught, 1952 Gibson J-50

DRUMS: Pearl Masters Custom 5-piece kit, prototype Brady snare drum

HEADPHONE RIG: Studio Hub headphone amplifiers and distribution system

ROOM TREATMENT: Custom Auralex treatment, studio furniture by Sterling Modular, Crafty Hands diffusion cabinets, speaker stands, etc.

PLUG-INS: All Waves plug-ins, GTR amp sim, Algorithmix EQs and Renovator, Samplitude vintage audio suite plug-ins, Universal Audio Powered Plug-Ins, YellowTools Freedom, Voxengo PHA979

Renowned luthier Paul Reed Smith is very active playing music and recording, and not surprisingly, the same drive that feeds his quest for the ultimate guitar tone carries over into his studio.

The Dragon Crossing was built with one goal in mind: the best sounding and most “musical” gear and mix position possible. As neither Paul nor Bill wanted to use tape as a recording medium, they evaluated a mountain of gear over a period of a two years. Paramount among their concerns were minimal latency, no digital hash or artifacts, great-sounding software, wonderful mics and mic pres, and an external analog mix bus. Acoustically speaking, Auralex, Paul, and Bill worked very hard to achieve an uncolored mix position so they could hear every nuance from their ATC and EMES monitors.

As Bill states, “Ultimately, to our ears a combination of analog and digital delivers the truest sound. It took a while for us to determine which DAW wouldn’t damage the tonal quality of the music; we selected Samplitude because for us, its audio engine and object-based editing placed it above the competition. I’m also impressed with the tone, and the availability of filtering of the delayed signal, in Samplitude’s Corvex and Ecox plugs. 88.2kHz is the sample rate of choice, not only because of the advantages afforded by a higher sample rate, but because it downconverts to 44.1kHz with minimal artifacts.”

Paul adds, “I spent a year looking for an analog console as an external mix bus, and finally decided on the Tonelux rig over a vintage Neve. But it’s also important to pay attention to other details. We’ve done extensive modifications to our mics, often substituting vintage components, and installed a Studio Hub headphone system so the musicians can really hear what’s going on.” And as expected, the studio is packed with the best amps, Paul’s finest guitars, and other selected instruments.

In many ways, Paul’s studio is the new studio model: It bridges the traditional, large-format analog-based studio with a digitally-based project studio environment. Compact and friendly, without needing a team of technicians, The Dragon Crossing nonetheless maintains a level of sonic quality equal to the finest recording facilities of years past.