Located in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, Narwhal Studios is a recently-opened collaboration between producers Brian Deck and Jim Gifford. Occupying the space of Engine Studios, Deck’s previous space in which he produced many albums for artists including Iron and Wine, Modest Mouse and many more, Narwhal is now home to a new 16-channel Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console loaded with Shelford 5052 mic preamp / inductor EQs, which sits beside their vintage SSL 4040 G+.
“Our goal is simple,” says Deck. “We want to create the best environment possible for making creative music.” Deck and Gifford wanted the space to appeal not only to the genres in which they’ve been working for years – namely indie rock, alternative and soul / fusion – but also to “jazz people with an affection for a Rudy Van Gelder level of recording,” as well as to Chicago’s impressive chamber music scene. “We wanted to have a studio where they could get the sonic purity they need to make music like that.”
“We have great-sounding rooms, lots of natural light, and the best consoles available…what you’re able to achieve in detail of your soundstage with the 5088, to me, is the best thing that’s ever been created in audio recording. We didn’t feel there was anything else out there, regardless of price, that would really perform the way we wanted it to,” says Deck. “I am now able to achieve what I have been aiming for my entire career, for the first time, more reliably and more beautifully than ever before.”
After working out of other spaces for a number of years since closing Engine Studios, one of the reasons Deck wanted to have his own studio again was to regain a certain level of comfort. “If you’re going to a new studio all the time, you are constantly listening super, super hard…I specifically wanted to stop thinking so hard, and to be able to concentrate on the music. I think that’s one of the things that the 5088 does for me. I have complete confidence in what’s going on here.”