Thursday, 7 October 2010

On the Brink of This...

A Look Inside: The Brink Studio

In the first in their series of "music geek pieces", Better Propaganda  brings us some shots of a studio called The Brink. The space is owned by Mike Reina.  Jimmy Chamberlin and Mike just finished recording the new THIS record there. Although, it appears to me that not all of the album was recorded there... Anyway, here's some words, from Mike and some piccys. Be sure to visit Better Propaganda for the full set of photos and texts....

Mike Reina: "Aside from the obligatory 4 tracking in high school and college, my recording experience was mostly limited to digital until my band got an MCI 1" 8 track. I hate to admit that a machine could have the power to change my life, but there is more than enough evidence in the racks to conclude that It did.

Since then, I have been assembling, disassembling and reassembling my studio with an obligation to keep all of this aging technology alive. There are plenty of people fighting that fight, but I feel an unnerving awareness that it will all slip away somehow, and that it's just a matter of time before it reaches relic status. As melodramatic as all of this sounds, I swear that I am not an analog snob!
I think digital platforms are great, but early on, I stumbled across the realization that the main benefit of tape wasn't it's great, vibrant sound. It was the edge of the canvas that it drew...the guardrail at the side of the highway. Limitation became my favorite influence on creativity. I began to see how limitation had guided my hand in all that I did leading up to this point in my life.
I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Architectural Design and there, too, limitation was a driving force acting on my work. Recording with a tape machine felt like an extension of the creative process that had been slowly etching a path in my mind since school. In comparison, recording to Pro Tools felt like jumping off a cliff into a vast, blank sky. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face because the limitlessness was blinding.
I got along great with this old gear until one night, the tape wouldn't stop rolling...literally. If I was going to continue working with vintage equipment, I knew I would have to learn how to maintain it. To my own annoyance, I became rather obsessive about it.

The studio is centered around a 42 channel 1978 MCI JH-500 series console. I love this desk because it has Jensen input transformers for the microphones, output transformers, and a four band inductor based EQ section using switches instead of pots for frequency selection and boost/cut. I soldered everything in the studio directly to the back of the console. I record to an MCI JH-24 16 and 24 track depending on the song or project. I mix to an Ampex ATR-100 1/2" 2 track. My tube compressor/limiter collection includes a Gates SA-39B, Gates Sta Level, RCA 86A-1, Collins 26U-1, Collins 26W, (5) Federal AM-864/U, GE Unilevel, (2) Fairchild Model C. I built (2) 1176 clones, and adapted (2) Russian made tube EQs. I recapped and in many cases rebuilt all of the vintage gear in the studio."


  1. Recording to tape? Sounds like someone else I know. Cool pictures though. :yes:

  2. Hey, this is good news. Had no idea the album was coming out so soon....mid-October? Looking forward to hearing JC's new work & a nice analog recording.

    Trying to remember what Roy Thomas Baker's involvement was in this...

  3. Rtb produced (some) if not all of the record...