SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston recently upgraded its AMS Neve Genesys Black console by installing the GenesysControl plugin that provides the final link to total integration between Genesys and Genesys Black consoles and digital audio workstations.
With the GenesysControl plugin on board, recording engineers can mix traditionally using the console, work in-the-box, or combine both approaches in a hybrid workflow. SugarHill engineer Stephen Finley says investing in the GenesysControl plugin has brought a new dimension to the studio’s workflow.
“I enjoy being able to automate my drum buses on the 8T section during choruses for extra excitement,” he explains. “Also, being able to have the automation plug in on all my tracks, put all the tracks in Pro Tools into the Neve at a touch and finalize any volume automation on the fly is very helpful. With the new GenesysControl plugin and the console’s recall software, recalling a mix and making an adjustment is now a fairly easy task – depending on your patching, of course.”
SugarHill has been helping artists create recordings since it first opened its doors in 1941. Founded by Bill Quinn as Quinn Recording Studio, it was renamed Gold Star Studio in 1950 and eventually became SugarHill in 1972 when it was acquired, and once again renamed, by producer Huey P. Meaux. The studio is now owned by producer Dan Workman and his business partners Rodney Myers and Andy Bradley, SugarHill’s chief engineer who has also authored a book about SugarHill’s history entitled House of Hits.
SugarHill is noted for paying attention to the caliber of its engineering staff and the sonic quality of its studios. This philosophy is what drove the facility to install its Neve Genesys Black console, located in SugarHill’s Goldstar room that was originally built in 1964 and designed by Jack Clement, who also designed the legendary Sun Recording Studios in Nashville.
Finley says: “In 2018, we installed our Genesys Black G32 console with 16 analogue channels. It is a fantastic console and we all really love the pre amps and EQs. We have 16 Neve 1084s, which make everything sound better – just a little always helps. We also have one 8 channel bank of dynamics that I like to use while tracking drums as its helps to tame some hits. I use very little gain reduction.”
SugarHill’s Genesys Black is used for recording and mixing projects and Finley says it is equally versatile for both types of project: “Since the inserts are always sending, during recording I have my inputs into Pro Tools as the channel direct outs and the outputs in Pro Tools as the individual Monitor outs. We use Pro Tools HD Native with an Avid MADI interface and MADI AD/DA cards for both the Channel and Monitor section of the console.
“When I’m recording, I drop INSert 2 into the monitor path,” he continues, “but I don’t engage the button to activate the insert return. I then patch the send of INSert 2 into my multi input headphone system, which gives me a total of 16 inputs with #16 dedicated for talkback. This gives me 15 discrete inputs for beyerdynamic DT770 headphones that the band can adjust using their personal headphone mixer. I also use CueMix for the drums, with the kick and snare going to aux 1 and aux 2 respectively (CueMix 1) and the rest of the kit going to stereo aux5 (CueMix 2). These CueMix outs then go into the headphone inputs. Let’s say I have bass, two guitars and a vocal on various channels. On those channels I’ll place the INSert 2 into the monitor path and then patch the INSert 2 output (send) to the headphone system inputs to create an alternate Cue mix for the artists to hear while performing.”
Since acquiring its Genesys Black, SugarHill has completed many sessions on the console for artists such as Chance the Rapper, George Thorogood, Kevin Gates, 21 Savage, Maxo Kream and North Mississippi Allstars. Most recently, Finley has been mixing an album for The Killer Hearts, which will be released soon on Spaghetty Town Records.