Multi-Platinum producer, engineer, and mixer Dave Fortman and partner/artist development executive Gene Joanen have opened the new Balance Recording Studio in the bucolic Big Easy suburb of Mandeville. A 30-minute drive from their original (and still operating) studio, the new complex was created by Walters-Storyk Design Group, architect and acoustician John Storyk.
A former guitarist with heavy metal cult group Ugly Kid Joe, Dave Fortman’s producer and engineer talents proved a magnet to such groups as Evanescence, Simple Plan and Slipknot. The first Balance Studio, co-designed by Fortman and Joanen thrived for 8 years until Katrina devastated the city. “We were extremely fortunate to have been just a block away from the most horrific storm damage, but the city was crippled,” says Joanen, a successful environmental engineer and co-founder of the Voodoo Music Experience. “We managed to get back in working order within a month after the disaster, but our labor pool and client base was decimated.”
“We outgrew our first studio long before Katrina hit, and had already found a 4,000 square foot warehouse in Mandeville that more than doubled our size,” Fortman adds. “When the waters rolled back and things dried out we decided to move ahead.” Absolutely committed to New Orleans, and confident of their ability to continue drawing out–of-state as well as local business, Fortman and Joanen contracted WSDG to create their new studio.
The control room is centered on a Solid State Logic SSL4000 G+ loaded with 32E and 32G modules, and Digidesign Pro Tools HD with 24 ins and 64 outs. This vintage SSL desk was originally owned by hit producer and composer Robert Clivillés of C+C Music Factory fame (Everybody Dance Now).
The main speaker system consists of custom-designed Dynaudio Acoustics monitors. Dave Fortman has done a lot of work at L.A.’s NRG Studios, and loved their Munro C4 / M4 system, so this system was to duplicate that sound. The WSDG studio design called for a soffit system in a vertical box, so a custom rectangular orientation was developed for a perfect match to the room’s large control room window. Powered by Dynaudio T2000 amplifiers and XTA speaker management systems, the mains deliver a truly incomparable sound.
The live room provides an intimate setting, ideal for tracking and overdubbing drums, horn sections, strings ensembles or vocalists. Balance’s outboard rack features: six Empirical Labs Distressor’s; two UREI Blue Stripe 1176’s; a Summit Stereo Tube Compressor; two Neve 2264’s; ten Neve 31102 Pre Amps and a multitude of other gear. The studio also boasts a custom 8 channel sidecar fashioned from a Harrison recording console that previously resided at the famed Studio In The Country in Bogalusa, LA. And, although there are some outstanding local restaurants, the studio also features an expansive kitchen and dining area to insure the creative juices are properly stoked with genuine home made gastronomy.