The Legion of Boom – a.k.a. the vaunted defense for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks – was just in town. During their stay in New York City, a visit to Quad Recording Studios’ newly renovated Studio Q1 would have been most appropriate.
That’s because things most definitely go “boom” in this Midtown facility’s flagship production studio, which was recently redesigned to make additional space for its high-end clientele. And while they were at it, Quad partners Ricky Hosn and Alessio Casalini have made one of New York City’s loudest rooms even louder.
Feedback was positive when Q1 launched in 2011, but not overwhelmingly so. The control room provided world-class acoustics, a strong Augspurger sound system, and attracted artists including Mary J. Blige, A$AP Rocky, Wale, NeYo, Sara Bareilles, Travis Scott and Elle Varner among others. But at just 320 square feet, its original design proved to be too compact for star artists and producers that required room for their entourage — or simply to stretch out on the couch.
For the next phase, Quad recruited noted studio designer John Storyk (Electric Lady, Jungle City) of Walters-Storyk Design Group. The remit: maximize available real estate, then pump up precision and power while he was at it.
“The concept behind Q1 is building a studio with the producer in mind,” Hosn says. “Everything here is within arm’s reach. It’s a large format room, but the same time one person can run the ship with an easy workflow.”
Between the Avid ICON control surface (which remains), the gear-packed producer’s desk in the back (which doesn’t), and frequent clients like 6’7” rapper J. Cole, there simply wasn’t sufficient square footage for work to get comfortably done. Following the update, however Q1 now has breathing room, due to some major tweaks.
First off, Storyk oversaw a one-foot pushback of the rear wall, followed by the installation of a custom Storyk back wall diffusor. In addition, the contents of the old producer’s desk were split off into two new custom Storyk-designed racks on either side of the ICON. The result: creation of the much need legroom in the back area, as well as allowing for the addition of a couch, providing a “chill” factor that didn’t previously exist in the room.
“It seems like it would be easy, but we had to rewire about five miles of cable,” notes Casalini. “We were pleasantly surprised it hit no problems whatsoever, but that’s because the wiring was done right the first time – that makes it a lot easier. Everything is on DL’s, so the hardest part is tearing down the soffits and getting everything out. These cables are heavy, and when you have 10 snakes together and you’re trying to pull each one individually, that’s the tedious part!”
One listen to the room’s recharged Augspurger system confirms that the work was worth it.
The sound in Q1 is extremely powerful, while remaining clean and clear across the frequency spectrum. The bass is huge, but it doesn’t muffle the mids and highs. In a way that can only be experienced in the loudest and most accurate world-class rooms, Q1 is a full body ride – it’s a thrilling way to experience music, whether the source is a rough mix or finished track.
“This Augspurger system is a joint effort between John Storyk and Dave Malekpour of Professional Audio Design – any time you can have the speaker installer and the studio designer work hand-in-hand, it definitely enhances the studio quality,” Hosn says. “When you change something in the room, you’re changing the sound in there too – so if we were ever going to change the speakers, this would have been the right time.”
Upgrades to the Augspurgers were performed by Malekpour’s team at Professional Audio Design, taking advantage of the latest amp, tweeter and subwoofer advances available.
“The system we originally installed at Quad Q1 included the GA215V dual 15” vertical mains, powered by Bryston 14B SST for the 15’ mid frequency drivers and Bryston 4B SST for the High Frequency Horn,” Malekpour explains. “That system was controlled by a BSS OmniDrive FDS-366T stereo 3-way DSP based speaker management system, providing system equalization and crossovers, and the subs were a Yorkville powered sub.
“The system upgrades include new 4” Beryllium Diaphragms specially built for us by TruExtent, and fitted to our high output compression driver,” he continues. “The sub system installed is a pair of Augspurger GA118S single 18” subs which are fitted with our proprietary 18” driver capable of 20-200hz, 97 db sensitivity, power handling of up to 2000 watts and almost 3” excursion. The cabinet is front ported and optimized to perform flat down to 24hz.”
Meanwhile, system power is provided by a pair of Augspurger DSP-3/2500 – 3 channel Pulse Width Modulation amps with 2500 total watts: 1000 watts to the sub, 1000 watts to mids and 500 watts to the high frequency horn. “This amp has some amazing specifications with .02% THD (total harmonic distortion) from 1 watt to 1 Kilowatt,” says Malekpour, “and one of the fastest transient responses in any amp I have tested. It also has no fans, runs very cool and needs standard 120v AC.
Quad’s Q1 Augspurger system is designed to provide high output with detail and accuracy, and can be tuned with the onboard DSP via USB, allowing adjustment of the curve to complement the room’s performance.
“The DSP is very high resolution and designed for the ability to align timing of drivers, phase, equalization and limiters if you want to protect the system,” Malekpour adds. “The equalization provides up to 16 FIR filters per band if needed, though usually we only need to use three or four filters per band. The EQ can be designed for bandwidth, Q, center frequency, gain and slope.”
“Personally I feel my brain shaking when the volume is turned up!” Hosn laughs. “This system brings the excitement of a live show. It’s like being in a club.”
Battling it out in NYC’s still heavily competitive world-class recording scene, Quad has rarely been one to sit still. Evolution is a constant here on the 10th floor of 723 7th Avenue, with plenty more action on the way.
There is a highly stylish new luxury hotel-style lounge affixed to Q1, which takes full advantage of Quads uniquely inspiring view of Times Square. Meanwhile, a third studio, Q3 – is also in the works and should be on line in the next month or so.
According to Ricky Hosn, the reason to keep reformulating an ambitious Manhattan facility is simple. “The people that don’t aren’t in business anymore,” he says. “You have to be observant of the trends, and always be on top of changes in the ways that producers and artists prefer to work.”
— David Weiss