Jay-Z (Roc The Mic)
New York, New York
A 4500 sq. foot, full-floor studio complex, Roc the Mic was designed for artists of the stature of Jay-Z and Beyonce, and is highlighted by fully networked, spacious twin control rooms featuring SSL 9000 J and 4000 G+ consoles, plus a high-end Pro Tools production suite. All three rooms aim to set powerful new benchmarks in power and accuracy with custom Augspurger monitoring systems. Throughout, Roc the Mic is a study in 21st Century luxury and comfort, centered around a massive communal lounge and flanked by private client areas, all ensconced in dark wood for a warm, rich environment.
Anticipated to be one of the hottest hip hop and R&B production studios in New York City and maybe all of America, WSDG and its team was committed to providing a great-sounding, extremely comfortable space totally conducive to a smooth workflow and preeminent music production. The idea is that everyone who experiences Roc the Mic will put it on their short list of go-to studios for years to come.
WSDG principal architect/acoustician John Storyk has been behind a number of exceptionally high-profile studios, from Aerosmith in Boston to Alicia Keys’ Oven Studio on Long Island and the Talking House complex in San Francisco. “Roc the Mic co-owners Juan Perez and Jay-Z’s successful 40/40 Sports Club set the standard for their level of excellence here,” Storyk says. “It was clear from the first day of programming that this studio complex had to pay equal attention to aesthetic and acoustic issues.”
Commissioned with the mandate of looking great, sounding flawless, and insuring absolute privacy between the two main studios, the team worked closely with Juan Perez to develop a design program focused on spacious, creature-comfort-heavy, twin 500 sq. ft. control rooms. Custom ‘split-island’ producer desks and generous ‘hang space’ meet the rooms social requirements, while the oversized iso booths can accommodate sessions for vocals, horn, guitar, and even drums.
Supported by an extraordinary holistic technology package, wire management, and installation, the studio represents the ultimate creative environment for contemporary music production. Seeing the project from beginning to end is the philosophy for WSDG and its team, as installation, wiring, grounding and sync issues may arise from setup and installation of all Pro Tools systems to final commissioning of both SSL consoles, pulling all cables, installing the custom-designed mic panels, and much more. The design staff remained onsite to attend to any potential issues during the studio’s first weeks of sessions.
To create Roc the Mic’s accurate but earth-shaking audio package, the SSL 9080 J was procured from Studio One of the Hit Factory. This console has recorded hundreds of hit hip hop, R&B, rock and pop records. It was thoroughly cleaned, refurbished and tested channel by channel to perform at original spec. It’s a fitting centerpiece for the main studio, fittingly named the ‘J Room’.
Working closely with George Augspurger himself to build and specify the main monitoring systems, the custom-fitted package consist of dual 15” drivers with horns per side, as well as dual 18” subs, all driven by thousands of watts of Bryston power and controlled by XTA digital speaker management. The cabinets, horns, wiring, and the paint job were all custom-made as well. At Roc the Mic’s J and G rooms, the result is a speakers and subs combination that is accurate from 18 Hz – 20 kHz with SPL at 127 dB.
This is power and accuracy that must be experienced to be believed. Thanks to the meticulous tuning by WSDG’s Dirk Noy, these rooms deliver incredible impact and concussion: They are extremely loud, but balanced with deep bottom end and extreme accuracy throughout the frequency spectrum. The end result is rooms that deliver an amazing experience to producers, engineers and artists, but at the same time translate to the outside world.
Storyk and his team tapped their own deep experience to realize every aspect of Roc the Mic’s ambitious goals. “Site challenges such as low ceilings coupled with an extensive wish list for multiple lounges, fun spaces, absolute privacy, and an effortless flow between the G and J SSL rooms and the Pro Tools suites, all contributed to the extended design and construction process,” Storyk adds. “4500 sq. feet sounds like a considerable chunk of NYC real estate, but we didn’t waste a square inch.
The goal of Walters-Storyk Design Group and its full-service team was to provide every one of the studio requirements along with world-class acoustics and technology. Roc the Mic is the perfect name for this studio – it really does rock.
Photos: Wes Bender