While many production facilities nationwide saw bookings decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex “Mixedbylex” Romero substantially increased his business at his Grand Bay Recording Studios in Tampa, Florida. After months of 18-hour days and a string of Gold and Platinum singles, Romero upgraded his main room with a Solid State Logic ORIGIN analog console. He has now also acquired a new building where he will soon open a larger, multi-room facility that will additionally house number of SSL hybrid production tools including SiX SuperAnalogue desktop mixer.
When COVID-19 hit, after an initial slowdown in bookings, artists began flocking to Grand Bay, Romero reports. With the boost in revenue, “We said, ‘We should upgrade and get an SSL board.’ So we talked to Mike Picotte, who’s been a friend of mine for 15 years and is a sales engineer at Sweetwater, and we bought the ORIGIN,” he says. “We noticed a change in the sonics in the room right away. We all fell in love with it, and now we can’t take our fingers off this board.”
For about four years Romero had worked on G Series and E Series desks at a previous studio. He had long dreamed of owning a large-format SSL desk, and while ORIGIN’s analog circuitry shares a lineage with the 4000 series consoles, the new desk has one clear advantage over those older classics, he says.
“The biggest difference to me is the reliability. Those old consoles had a sound, but there’s also a frustration that comes with them,” he says. “Now, I wake up, come to the studio and turn the ORIGIN on, and I have no doubts that when I hit the center section Mix button it will work. But I’m glad I got to experience those years with the old consoles, because it makes me appreciate the ORIGIN so much more.”
Grand Bay’s Studio 2, which for a time was equipped as a mastering room, is outfitted with a second SSL desk. “I have the SSL SiX with a pair of PMC monitors and we bought a Sony C800 microphone for in there. There’s a 16-input interface and we do a lot of mixing in that room. We have two channels with EQ on the SiX, so sometimes we’ll just put a two-track instrumental through it and add some compression with the SSL stereo bus compressor,” he says.
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