NEW YORK: A former East Village hair salon has morphed into a concise but efficient recording studio thanks to the vision of producer/engineer Michael Croiter and the creative space optimization skills of Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) architect/acoustician John Storyk.
Croiter, drummer for the hit Broadway musical Avenue Q, had been searching for workable (and affordable) space for a personal NYC recording studio. After discovering a funky former beauty shop with a low-ceiling basement on E. 5th Street, he called on WSDG to see if it could be made to work.
“We were amazed at Michael Croiter’s ability to see past the shabby conditions of the original space,” John Storyk said. “But as we picked our way around the hair clippings and debris a plan began to rise from the rubble.” Storyk knew the 850 sq. ft., 7 ½ ft. high basement could provide the necessary level of basic isolation, despite the obvious height challenge. There would be sufficient room for an Audient ACS-8024 Analogue Console, recommended by Professional Audio Design (PAD) principal Dave Malekpour, a machine room and a live room large enough to accommodate a Yamaha C2 Grand Piano. The street level space could double as a client lounge replete with kitchen and a charming view of tree-lined East 5th Street.
Beyond the logistical, technical and design issues, Storyk was faced with another critical concern. Croiter had just been signed to record and produce the original music for fifty-two ½ hour episodes of a live-action TV series about to begin shooting in NYC. The new studio needed to be transformed from coal bin to polished diamond within a period of six months! This meant not just designing the facility, but coordinating construction permits, building schedule, technology purchases, wiring, HVAC, acoustic treatments, new floors, walls, glass installation and a myriad of related details.
“We were faced with a space that by all rights shouldn’t have even been considered for a recording studio,” Storyk says. “Beyond that we had an inflexible time frame that made no allowance for the realities of NYC’s idiosyncratic construction environment. It was so obviously impossible, we couldn’t turn the job down.”
Drawings were developed and approved in rapid succession. The WSDG team: contractor Chris Harmaty of Technical Structures, systems integrators Dave Berliner of Redco and WSDG’s Judy Brown; long-time WSDG HVAC engineer Marcy Ramos and WSDG-E acoustician Dirk Noy worked overtime to transform the dank cellar into a studio jewel. The Audient ACS-8024 console proved an ideal choice both for Croiter’s technical needs and the limited control room space. The entire PAD package, from Apogee’s AD 16X, DA 16X and Rosetta to the Dynaudio BM 15A’s, Digi Design Pro Tools and Aviom A16 Personal Mixers supports Yellow Sound Lab’s flexibility and power.
“Space-wise we were working with intractable givens,” Storyk says. “The two columns in the five-person Live Room weren’t going away and, a grand piano needed to live there. We weren’t going to raise the ceiling or lower the floor. We needed to take advantage of every inch of space. The former washing machine/dryer closet became the machine room.”
Noy and Storyk completed the final round of room tuning two days before Croiter’s first scheduled recording session. Yellow Sound Lab Studios (named in honor of Croiter’s faithful canine companion Tyler), opened on schedule.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the results,” Croiter says. “I’d been aware of John Storyk’s reputation for years. Strong recommendations from Dale Pro Audio and Dave Malekpour, coupled with an extremely positive site tour convinced me that he could handle virtually anything. The speed and efficiency of the WSDG design and build program was amazing to watch. Even though the clock was ticking, John was sensitive to last minute changes and open to suggestions. Everything got done on schedule and the rooms sound and feel exactly the way I’d hoped they would. Our initial session went off without a hitch and our clients were suitably impressed with the facility. They had no idea that the paint was still drying.”
Yellow Sound Lab Studios are located at 217 East 5th Street, New York, NY
Yellow Sound Lab Gear & Instrument List 11/20/06
Audient ACS-8024 Analogue Console
Apple Cinema Display
HD 2 Accel
Apogee DA 16Xand AD 16X & Rosetta converters 24×24
Aviom A 16 Personal Mixers
Lucid GNX clock
Fully loaded with plug-ins (including Waves and Anteres)
Digi Design Command 8 Pro Tools mixer
Dynaudio BM15A Monitors
Millenia STT-1 Channel Strip/mic pre
Avalon 737 VT Channel Strip/mic pre
Avalon U5 mic pre/direct box
Yamaha SPX2000 Effects Processor
DBX 160a Compressors
Tascam DVRA1000 CD/DVD recorder
Mics from Neumann, Rode, Audix, AKG, Shure
Korg Triton Rack Sampler
Roland Fantom Rack Sampler
Line 6 guitar pod XT amp simulator
Panasonic Plasma Television
Yamaha Absolute Custom Drums
Yamaha C2 Grand Piano
Taylor Acoustic guitars
Fender Electric guitars
Malletech 4.3 Marimba
Tons of percussion instruments