As part of a complete architectural and electronic renovation, Virginia Arts Recording recently replaced its large-format digital console with a 16-channel API 1608 analog console with P-Mix fader automation.
The north-central Virginia-based studio has been serving local musicians, labels, and radio stations for over 30 years. The current owners, Chris Doermann and Sean Dart, are embracing that history and the industry’s pivot to analog with the new API console and a 24-track, 2-inch tape machine.
Virginia Arts Recording also retains all the professional digital platforms with top-end converters to allow projects to effectively hybridize between the two technologies. The facility resides in a historic house in southeast Charlottesville, just miles from the University of Virginia campus. A little over a year ago, the coupling that merged the city water supply and the house’s water heater on the second floor failed just as everyone was closing up shop for a holiday weekend.
“When we returned, the control room, and much of the equipment was totally wrecked,” recalls Dart. “The digital console was one of the casualties, but we decided to make the most of it. We wanted to put the studio on solid footing for the next twenty-five years.”
Analog consoles, tape machines, ADATs, and a steady progression of DAWs all had a place in Virginia Arts Recording’s history. Doermann and Dart decided to build a hybrid analog/digital studio with a workflow that made negotiating the two technologies transparent.
“We definitely wanted an analog console, and we pride ourselves on capturing big drum sounds,” says Dart. “That’s API’s signature talent, so naturally we chose the 1608.”
Doermann and Dart took an API factory tour as a part of their research. “Interacting with API is a different experience,” notes Dart. “Mark Seman of API invited us to the factory, and we packed a few mixes that we know well. API let us see everything, and gave us a few hours behind the 1608.
“It sounded amazing, and the feel of real faders has been a welcome relief from menus and double clicks. I just get in there with my hands, and thank API for giving us the recording feel we were missing.”