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Quad Studios owners talk major rebuild with Neve Genesys

Ricky Hosn and Alessio Casalini, owners of New York’s legendary Quad Studios, have spoken to Headliner about how they have rebuilt and repurposed the facility with a new Neve G64 Genesys Black, after a major flood destroyed Studio Q1, one of its most revered rooms.

One of New York’s most iconic and sought after studios – the reception of which was where the late Tupac Shakur was shot and tragically killed back in 1994 – Quad has become part of the fabric of the city’s music scene since it was established by Lou Gonzales in 1978. Since then it has established itself as a go to hub for a multitude of genres, but most predominantly the local hip-hop and urban music scene.

However, at the end of 2020, a burst pipe caused major damage to the studio, Studio Q1 in particular, where most of its equipment was damaged beyond repair. Until that point, it had been set up for a hybrid workflow with a digital control surface and 48 channels of analogue summing and preamps so that clients could choose between different sound colours and characters, depending on their project.

Rather than rebuild the room exactly as it was, Hosn and Casalini opted to install a Neve G64 Genesys Black console fully automatable via the Genesys Control Plugin.

“Considering the success of our original room we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel,” Hosn said. “However, we did address the limitations imposed by the size of the room because the Neve console allowed us to reduce the amount of outboard gear in Studio Q1, thus reducing the size of the racks. We were also able to elevate the audio quality of customers’ projects by giving them access to Neve’s classic analogue sound.”

Hosn became Quad’s owner in 2005 when Gonzales retired. Dave Malekpour, president of Pro Audio Design Inc and Augspurger, was asked to liquidate the equipment, but instead approached Hosn, who was planning to build a studio in Florida, and suggested he buy the facility.

Meanwhile, Casalini, who became a partner in 2012, now handles the studio and technical side of the facility. Quad now has three studios on the 10th and one on the 12th floor, which was opened in 2018. Installing the Neve Genesys Black G64 in Studio Q1 means that Quad can now offer customers a large format, digitally controlled analogue recording console with touchscreen DAW control and total integration with the studio environment. Featuring 48 faders, 32 analogue channels and an integrated DAW display, the desk also includes Neve’s microphone preamps and analogue circuit design.

“Since we have three other rooms based on the original Q1 hybrid concept, we thought why not go all the way with an analogue board?” Casalini said. “Most of our sessions require very fast recalls and workflow, so we wanted a desk that interacted as seamlessly as possible with the DAW and removed the need for manual recalls and complicated setups. We were looking for ease of use and quick changeovers and the Genesys Black was the perfect machine. Also, most of our outboard gear was severely damaged during the flood, so this was an opportunity to go in a different direction.”

Here, Hosn and Casalini take us inside the studio’s redevelopment and their plans for the future…

What was it that made you reimagine Studio Q1 rather than rebuild it as it was?

Ricky Hosn: We had a sprinkler flood late last year in our main room, Studio Q1. The extent of the damage required a complete gut out and rebuild of the room. Since we were starting from scratch, we had some room to get creative. Given the success of the original room, we were careful not to go off course with the design. We kept the room design almost identical to the original and decided to make changes that will enhance audio quality and open up more space in the room.

Alessio Casalini: We always thought about having a big analogue console, but given how the business changed over the years, recalls were a big factor that held us back. So we adopted this hybrid concept, which blends together the digital Pro Tools control surface allowing a faster workflow and sessions recalls - vital aspects for our operation, and the warmer analogue sound of summing mixers. We had a Manley 16x2 mic/line mixer, 16 channel SSL summing mixer with the master bus compressor and 16 channel Chandler mini mixer. I guess this was opportunity for a change.

The Neve Genesys was the perfect fit. Alessio Casalini, Quad Studios owner

What made you opt for the Neve G64 Genesys Black?

AC: Mostly the seamless integration with Pro Tools, in addition of course to the legendary 1073 preamps and 88R EQs. We were looking for something easy to use and that would allow quick changeovers, and this seemed to be the perfect fit.

RH: The Neve Genesys made a lot of sense to us. First, you get that classic Neve sound in a modern board that integrates well with the current workflows. And second, you get enough preamps, EQs and compressors on the board to where you can reduce the amount of outboard gear required in the room.

What has it brought to the studio that wasn’t there previously?

RH: The sound would have to be the biggest impact so far. Having 32 channels of Neve preamps at your disposal gives you a lot of room to work with.

AC: Deeper and tighter low-end, silky high-end and overall loudness, which is what our clients love! I also think it made the workflow more straightforward and intuitive because now everything is right in front of you.

Did you upgrade any of the other key aspects of the studio?

AC: We decided to keep the design almost identical to the original room, which has always been a big success for us. We made the racks smaller, we went from three bay racks to two bays. That gave the room more space and a better overall modern look.

You described the rebuild of the studio as an opportunity to go in a different direction. Does this mean you will now be able to take on a wider range of projects?

RH: Quad Studios has always been a one-stop, do-all facility. That said, with the addition of a Neve console, we look to expand our tracking footprint.

AC: We are definitely interested in expanding our clientele. We are obviously very well known for hip-hop but having three other rooms for that and very soon a fourth one, we said ‘why not try to venture into something else?’ This will hopefully give us the opportunity to host more tracking sessions and open up to other genres.

Aside from the damage caused by the flood, how has business been for Quad during the pandemic?

RH: Business has been great as usual. There were a few months in the beginning of the pandemic where we weren’t allowed to operate. That’s when the whole world had to shut down. But after that things picked right back up. Artists need to create. There is no stopping that.