‘Brooklyn Born Brooklyn Bred’ Williamsburg Room Opens Up Fresh Creative Options for Mixers, Mastering Engineers, Producers, Artists & Labels
It’s not easy to bring something new to the music production scene, but BB4 Studios has accomplished just that. Shorthand for “Brooklyn Born Brooklyn Bred”, this just-launched Williamsburg facility is providing producers, engineers, artists, and labels with an innovative audio resource.
BB4 has created a studio unique to New York City, executing an acoustically excellent environment that is optimal for both mixing and mastering. Designed by owner Rafael “Raf” Planten and Christos Tsantilis (P. Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Mobb Deep, Mos Def, Brandy, Big Pun, Queen Latifah, Patti LaBelle, Saigon), BB4 provides mixers, mastering engineers, producers and labels with an exciting option for perfecting projects. World-class recording capabilities for vocals and overdubs are also onsite.
An Advanced Audio Environment
Built from the ground up as a brand new studio on Williamsburg’s famed Bedford Avenue, BB4 channels the artistic energy of its surrounding neighborhood into its precisely tuned space. A multi-platinum engineer, producer, quality-control expert, as well as an accomplished studio designer, Tsantilis focused his decades of audio experience into making BB4 a first-choice room for honing the best possible mixes and masters – accomplished via thoroughly modern workflows within a welcoming environment.
The goal with BB4’s design was straightforward: Make a neutral room with as flat a sweet spot as possible. Only the highest-grade acoustical treatments and wiring were specified, combined with a custom mastering-style console outfitted with elite dynamics, EQs, and effects gear, plus a huge collection of plugins.
“Once upon a time, mix rooms and mastering suites were built to the same specs,” Tsantilis points out. “But at some point mix rooms had to get bigger, to accommodate the larger tracking consoles that were being brought in. The BB4 approach gets mixers back into a room that’s optimized for accuracy – this is a mastering-grade environment where they can mix. Having this purpose-built environment provides an extreme upgrade in your ability to hear the music, and make much more informed decisions.”
Equipping the Right Environment
Freelance producers, mixers, and mastering engineers alike will feel well-supported at BB4, which provides an assistant engineer for all sessions. With the gear selection that’s on hand, audio professionals should feel immediately inspired to get to work on their sounds.
BB4’s sweet spot begins with a custom mastering-style console designed by renowned studio designer Ken Capton (Eminem, Kid Rock, Music Works NYC, Yessian Music New York). Avid Pro Tools 11 and SonicStudio’s SoundBladeHD serve as the mixing and mastering DAWs, respectively, connecting to the hardware and monitors via Prism Dream and Avid HD Omni converters.
Outboard is extensive without being overwhelming. Compressors include dual RAD 4K-CS SSL’s, Manley SLAM!, Tube-Tech CL 2A, Alan Smart C2, TK Audio BC1, and custom 1176. EQs include four channels of Vintech 473, API 553, Nightpro EQ3-D, and a Weiss Eq1-LP/DYN combo. An Orban Stereo Synthesizer model 245e and classic Yamaha Spx90 are on hand for outboard FX. A Manley 16×2 tube mixer is available for summing.
For tracking and overdub sessions, microphones include a Manley Reference, stereo Audio-Technica ATM450’s, and a Shure SM7B. Mic pre’s are populated by the likes of four Vintech 573’s, two API 512c’s, and a stereo Melcore AML-27. Hardware can also be swapped in and out at a visiting engineer’s request.
Available plugins include Eventide Anthology, Waves Diamond Bundle including Platinum, Restoration, and Transform Bundles, Sonnox Oxford Elite, SoundToys with Eleven, Altiverb XL, and Lexicon – PCM Native Total Plug-In Bundle.
All mixing and mastering decisions go through the meticulously planned monitoring system, which features a PMC ib2 passive 3-way system flanked by dual ADAM Sub12 subwoofers. Bryston 4bst and THX amps power the system, all calibrated by a White Instruments Room EQ.
The attention to detail in BB4’s high-grade dead soft annealed solid pure silver (4N) wiring – overseen by wiring guru Mike Donahower (Jungle City, Robert Clivilles, Five Towns College) — illustrates the extreme care taken to deliver the truest possible sound. “The wiring makes all the difference in the world – it definitely affects the sonic character, depth and dimension that you can hear in a stereo recording,” says Tsantilis. “We strictly employed Furutech and Oyaide connectors, which are optimized for music by cryogenic freezing: That process changes the molecular makeup of the metal for less distortion, noise and resistance.”
Brooklyn and Beyond
While the emphasis is wholly on the music, BB4 is a comfortable place to work for hours at a stretch. A couch is behind the mix/master position in the main room, while a well-appointed lounge completes the experience for all clients and artists in attendance. The vibe is minimalist and stylish at the same time, deleting distractions while maximizing creative inspiration.
BB4 realizes Rafael Planten’s commitment to converging audio and art on a Brooklyn block that he loves deeply – he was literally born in the building whose ground floor the studio occupies. His room doesn’t just fill a need in New York City’s densely crowded studio scene, it creates a new category. That makes BB4 Studios bigger than just another business: it’s a way of contributing to the community, the local economy, and global music.
“Sound makes a difference in people’s feelings,” Planten says, summing it up. “If you’re hearing something good, it will feel good.”
For more information on BB4 Studios, visit http://www.bb4studios.com/.