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StarCity Recording Company BLASTS OFF

Above: Designed for audio and post-production work, Control Room B is equipped with a large-format Digidesign ProControl and a large selection of outboard gear. Inset photo: Live Room B provides an ideal space for sound effects using the facility’s six Foley pits.

When audio professionals Jeff Glixman, Carl Cadden-James and Lily Salinas were looking for a location to launch StarCity Recording Company — their recording and post-production facility — they didn't have to look far. They opened their facility in an 18,000sq-ft studio previously occupied by Angel Mountain Productions, a studio where Glixman and Cadden-James had both done previous work.

When they heard about the studio's availability, they were thrilled. After all, the facility was already complete, and they knew from experience that the sound it provided was out of this world.

The studio's location was another bonus. The trio wanted to provide a laid-back and creative environment where artists could thrive. They wanted to avoid the pressure, fast pace and high costs associated with big cities. Based in Bethlehem, PA, the facility achieves those goals. It's an hour's drive from New York City and Philadelphia, offering artists there an alternative for their high-res audio and video projects.

A Digidesign Control|24 console resides in the C Room, which is ideal for smaller productions. As with all of StarCity’s rooms, surround monitoring is by Quested.

Prepare for launch

Before opening its doors, however, there was work to be done. Angel Mountain Productions was more corporately driven and therefore had an institutional feel — not the vibe the trio was going for. To provide the transition from a clinical atmosphere to a creative one, they brought in Martin Pilchner, principal of Pilchner Schoustal International. Pilchner spearheaded the design of Angel Mountain Productions, so he was familiar with the facility. Changes include new paint schemes, carpeting and décor to create an artistic feel. Likewise, a new client lounge is being added, as well as a mastering suite and a second entrance to the facility.

Orchestrating the systems integration design and implementation is Cadden-James, a 5.1 specialist with experience in both mix and audio post-production.

Mission control

The facility houses three control rooms, which contain Stewart automatic drop-down MicroPerf screens with projectors providing lock-to-picture images. In addition, all three suites are designed and built to accommodate 5.1 surround production. The spaces are tied together by a Studio Network Solutions storage network with 1.5TB of storage.

Measuring 25ft × 28ft, Control Room A is the largest of the control rooms. It houses an SSL XL 9000 K console with 72 channels; a Studer A827 Gold Edition 2in, 24-track analog tape recorder; five soffited Quested 412s; and a range of vintage and modern outboard gear.

Adjacent to Control Room A is Live Room A, which measures 30ft × 39ft. Ideal for large ensemble recording and film scoring, the room can accommodate a 40-piece orchestra. It features a Yamaha C7, 22ft-high ceilings and three isolation booths.

Control Room B measures 17ft × 23ft and is designed as an audio post room for film and television work. A 32-fader Digidesign ProControl adorns the room. Other features include five soffit-mounted Quested 212s, Dolby encoding, and a large selection of outboard gear.

Like Control Room A, Control Room B has a studio proper — Live Room B. The 13ft × 35ft room lends itself for cutting bass, drums or any other instrument that artists desire. It is equipped with plasma monitors and six Foley pits, making the room ideal for sound effects and ADR.

StarCity’s largest control room is Control Room A. It houses an SSL XL 9000 K, a Studer A827, and a broad collection of vintage and modern outboard gear. Inset photo: Live Room A can accommodate a 40-piece orchestra and is equipped with three isolation booths.

At 16ft × 20ft, Control Room C is designed for smaller productions. It houses a Digidesign Control|24 console and two isolation booths, each measuring 9ft × 9ft. The room also employs a Pro Tools|HD 3 with numerous plug-ins and five soffit-mounted Quested 212s.

In addition to the control rooms and live rooms, the facility boasts a 30ft × 40ft THX-specified mix theater. It contains 30 seats and was specifically built for 5.1 productions. StarCity's partners removed the existing film console and most likely will replace it with an AMS Neve DFC or Digidesign surface solution. The mix theater features a 6.1 Dolby Digital EX and an 11ft × 20ft projection screen, as well as a large video projector and facilities for two rock-and-roll 35mm projectors.

Mission accomplished

Business at StarCity has been taking off since the facility unofficially opened its doors four months ago. Among its growing list of clients is Ace Entertainment, which has turned to the facility for recording and mixing projects on the BET Jazz Channel's “Studio Jams” series. On the series, a diverse group of musicians perform together in Live Room A. Cadden-James then mixes the tracks on the XL 9000 K.

Cadden-James says that he and his partners have been so busy servicing their existing client base and revamping the facility that they haven't had time to actively solicit new business. Therefore, he's amazed at the amount of business seeking out StarCity. It must be in the stars.

Susan Anderson is managing editor of Broadcast Engineering and Broadcast Engineering World magazines.

Technology at work

9098 EQs
9098 compressor

AMS Neve 33609J compressor

API pres EQs and compressors

Avid AV option for Pro Tools

Aviom cue system

Crane Song STC-8 compressor/limiter

Control|24 console
ProControl console
Pro Tools|HD3 systems in all tracking spaces

Dolby encoding/decoding and monitoring hardware

Empirical Labs distressors

Focusrite ISA 110 EQ

480 digital effects system
960 digital effects system

SSL XL 9000 K console

Stewart MicroPerf drop-down screens for lock to picture

Studer A827 recorder

Studio Network Solutions Fibre Channel SAN

TASCAM DV-RA1000 recorder

TC Electronic
TC 2290 dynamic digital delay
TC M6000 mastering processor

Thermionic Culture The Phoenix compressor

Tube Tech EQ 1A EQ

Universal Audio
2-610 preamp
LA-2A leveling amplifiers
1176 limiting amplifiers

Design team

Martin Pilchner, Pilchner Schoustal International

Carl Cadden-James, systems integration

Denis DeCamillo, Q Cables