CONSOLE: 1978 MCI JH-428 (upgraded with Advent op amps, sealed relays and Transamp mic pres)
TAPE MACHINES: Ampex ATR-800 1/4-inch; MCI JH 24/24 two-inch (16-track head stack also available), JH 110B 1/2-inch
AMPLIFICATION: Crown DC 300, DC 150; Hafler Pro 5000
MONITORING: Focal SM8s; Yamaha NS10s
MICS: AKG D112, C12a; Audio-Technica AT-4033 (2); Neumann U87 w/Bill Bradley mods, U87; Sanken CU-32; Shure SM57 (7), SM91 (2)
PREAMPS: API 512c (custom built from vintage API parts with Jensen input/output transformers) (4); Trident TSM channel strips (4); Vintech X73 (2)
DYNAMICS: Altec 1591 pre/compressor; Avalon VT-737SP; dbx 160 vu (4); Drawmer 1960; Gates Level Devil; Pandora stereo compressor/limiter (2); Sontec DRC 202; TL Audio pre/compressor; Valley People Dyna-Mite compressor/limiter (2)
EFFECTS: AKG BX-20; Lexicon LXP-15; Real Reverb Chamber
NOTES: In the face of a seemingly endless sea of DAW-based studios, Chris Mara decided to buck the trend and build a very large—yet intimate—all-analog tracking facility geared toward independent artists who wanted to step back in time every time they stepped back into the studio.
“I wanted to put together the largest studio equipped with the best-sounding gear that any independent artist could ever hope to afford,” states Mara when asked about the philosophy underpinning the 6,000 square foot studio. “Finding a building that didn’t require much build out, and slowly collecting the gear over the past ten years, really helped me keep it affordable.”
The sole occupant of an ex-record pressing plant, Welcome to 1979 is truly a throwback to the yesteryears of analog recording. “As everybody and their mother has a Pro Tools rig these days, I’ve found my niche is offering serious square footage, a great-sounding console, and a solid two-inch machine,” Mara explains. “A lot of bands love getting out of the box. In fact, a lot of guys have been coming in to track and overdub on analog, then bringing their rigs over to transfer when they wrap things up. It’s a best of both worlds situation.
“Analog is experiencing a serious resurgence,” Mara observes, flashing a boyish smile while gazing around a room full of goodies. “Even though the whole integration thing is huge—and has been for a while—I see a lot of people trying to stay in the analog world as long as possible. I even have bands bringing in their existing projects on Pro Tools to run tracks through the console, tape machine and outboard gear. That’s cool with me—I have tons of tape and a hell of an assistant to keep things running smoothly.”
And you know how important that is if, like Chris, you’re going to party like it’s 1979.
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