From Sonic Scoop, October 14, 2009
By David Weiss
No Sleep 'Til...
Last week, SonicScoop linked up with Maureen Droney, the Director of the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy (NARAS), who was in town for AES. Based in Los Angeles, Maureen had heard - and heard right - about Brooklyn being a choice destination for recording studios, and wanted to see some of the hot spots first-hand. We picked her up at the L train and commenced our Brooklyn studios tour in Williamsburg.
[We] crossed the street to Excello, where we caught owner Hugh Pool on his way in, with a big old vintage amp in tow. We followed him in and all the way back through Excello's clubhouse-style lounge area, filled with musical ephemera, down the hallway lined with stacks of vintage amps, and finally into the great Excello control room.
Hugh filled us in on how he came to own Excello, named for the enormous air conditioning unit hanging down from the ceiling (and actually miked for its echo effect) in the big, open industrial gallery of a live room, and it's clear his love and aim for this place is true: Make great music and enjoy yourself in the process.
Excello's unique equipment setup includes a Calrec Series B console, stacks of (10) Neve 1063 modules and API mic pre's, and an Altec 1567A 5x1 tube mixer. They do a lot of tracking to tape here and are equipped with Studer A-800 and 827 2" 24-tracks, 1/2" 4-track and 1/4" 2-track machines and an Ampex ATR 102 1/2" 2-track, in addition to Pro Tools HD2 with an expansion output card for 32-outs. Full-time technician John Charette Electronics repairs/builds amps and pedals out of his shop on-site at Excello, and maintains the studio's equipment. In the live room, the wooden acoustic clouds hovering at the ceiling, carpets and collection of vintage instruments and gear give Excello a kind of 60s vibe that feels really rock-and-roll.
Maureen agreed: "Hugh's energy and really the energy of the whole place was amazing, like the essence of rock and roll recording. It's obvious he's one of the naturals, who didn't get into this for the money, he just loves music and found himself owning a studio. Now he has this great collection of gear, working hard every day and still having fun and getting excited about the projects he's working on."
As for the gear, Maureen added, "I really like the setup with the Neve sidecar, which is routed so that things can be swapped out and experimented with very quickly."
"I love all the natural light in these Brooklyn studios, too," Maureen continued, "Both Mission and Excello feel really homey and personal, but not that kind of 'personal' where it's someone's private studio with features kind of inaccessible to clients coming in. Everything in both studios feels really personalized yet welcoming to bands. And everything feels really cared about."
From MIX Magazine, October 2006
By David Weiss
The technical importance of having a great console in a control room has arguably shifted in the past several years, but the emotional significance has not. Special mixing desks have the power to inspire, and in the hands of the right engineer, can take a tracking or mix session to a place that a DAW alone just can't. New York City is home to some of the most intriguing fader-equipped mechanisms.
Excello Recording is home to a spacious and airy live room on one side of the glass and a tank-like Calrec Series B 40x16x18 console on the other. Built exclusively for the BBC, the board is one of only four of its type ever constructed, and it was used to broadcast and record from London's Royal Albert Hall from 1990 to 1999. Put into retirement by the Brits, it has since found a most appreciative fan club in Brooklyn.
"The BBC wanted a console with what you want, too," says Excello partner/engineer Hugh Pool. "Low distortion, loud and clean with tons of headroom. All of the output cards have hand-wired Lundahl transformers, and the weight when you pull them out is amazing - approximately six ounces per board." Although Excello initially sought a Neve or API to complement its wealth of vintage gear (including an equally notable Neve 12x4 1063 sidecar), the studio and its clientele have fallen in love with the Calrec's extreme flexibility and ultra-low noise.
From MIX Magazine, March 2003
By Paul Verna
Residents of Brooklyn's Williamsburg section recall a
time, not long ago, when their streets were canyons of
bleakness: Abandoned factories harbored the most
undesirable members of society, who, in turn, were
responsible for much of the neighborhood's crime.
Today, the same streets teem with chic shops and
restaurants, and many of the old factories have been
converted into fancy apartments. The rents have risen,
too, but not to the levels of Lower Manhattan, just
across the East River.
This month's column profiles four of the top recording
facilities in Williamsburg. They are all one-room
shops with ample tracking space, vintage analog
consoles and tape recorders, and digital audio
workstations. Despite their similarities, each has
carved its own niche in one of the nation's toughest
Quietly and with rock-solid determination, Excello
Recording has served the New York rock community for
11 years. The studio has never advertised; through
word of mouth, it has attracted the likes of David
Byrne, Debbie Harry, Molly Ringwald, Michael Brecker,
Richard Hell, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, the
Jesus Lizard, Steve Albini, Fred Schneider, Marc
Ribot, John Zorn, Mark Eitzel and Don Fleming.
Producer/musician/partner Hugh Pool attributes the
studio's success to its no-nonsense approach and its
affordability. "We've been able to keep our overhead
low," he says. "We are surviving through this really
screwed-up time in the music business. People are
closing right and left and ours is a large footprint,
but we're hanging in."
Excello recently upgraded to a Calrec Series B
58-input console it purchased from the BBC. It also
acquired an EMT 140, an Echo Plate and a Studer A800
analog recorder from former Platinum Island owner
Richie Kessler, who originally got the gear from the
old Hit Factory studios. Other gear highlights at
Excello include a 12-channel, quad-bus Neve console
with 1063 preamps; LA-2As and LA-3As, 1176 and Summit processors; an Ampex ATR-102 half-inch mastering deck; and a Studer A80 quarter-inch recorder.
Like many studios that are built on a vintage, analog
vibe, Excello makes a nod to the workstation world via
a dual-processor G4 loaded with Pro Tools. However,
Pool admits that he's less interested in the computer
than in "the moving parts."
Besides Pool, the other partners in Excello are Dann
Baker, Bruce Hathaway, Chad Swanberg, Gil Shuster and
studio manager Jane Pool (Hugh's wife). In between
"commercial" sessions, the studio serves as a conduit
for various in-house projects, including Pool's own
activities and sessions by Love Camp 7, an acclaimed
indie rock band that features Baker and Hathaway.
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