Ultra Sound Rehearsal Studios in New York City is among the most well-appointed rehearsal spaces in the world, with high-profile acts now making it a mandatory stop before heading on the road or to the recording studio.
Each of its 21 rooms boast TEF-analyzed and corrected acoustics, the finest equipment and instruments, high-end boutique amplifiers, and audiophile sound reinforcement.
“The usual MO is that bands spend time in a rehearsal studio with mediocre gear before heading out on tour or to the recording studio, where the equipment is better because there (the thinking goes) it matters,” explains Ultra Sound co-owner Gene Sinigalliano.
“But given a choice between good acoustics, great equipment, superb microphones and excellent sound during rehearsal or during a show, which is ultimately more important? In a typical rehearsal space, it is a challenge to hear the mistakes that you’re trying to correct in preparation for the public performance. If you then go on tour with great equipment, everyone gets a crystal-clear impression of what could very well be an embarrassing, sub-par performance,” he continues.
“Simply put, you were unable to properly prepare and rectify problems during rehearsal because of poor sound quality. Alternatively, you can perfect your craft in a well-appointed rehearsal studio with great mics and a sound system that have the intelligibility and articulation you need to make improvements. Then if the equipment isn’t so good on tour, the worst thing that happens is your fans wish they could have heard your stellar performance a little better.”
Sinigalliano makes a similar case for bands heading to the recording studio. “Pre-production lets you dial-in everything before you record at a fraction of the cost. Since Ultra Sound offers many of the same mics used by the best recording studios, pre-production will be very accurate for vocals and acoustic instruments.”
Ultra Sound recently upgraded from Sennheiser e 835 vocal mics to the professional-grade e 945. Each of the 21 studios now boasts e 945 super-cardioid dynamics for the lead vocalist.
“Don’t get me wrong, the e 835 is a great mic, and we use it for backup singers,” says Sinigalliano. “But the e 945 has a more lush vocal sound with an incredible warm, natural response. It cuts through the mix without harshness and permits tremendous gain before feedback.
“Clients may also reserve a Sennheiser e 965 switchable polar pattern condenser mic, Neumann KMS 105 or Neumann KMS 104 microphone whenever vocal quality, tone and responsiveness is the priority over volume.”
Ultra Sound’s world-class stable of Bechstein pianos includes a magnificent C Bechstein Concert Grand, with each piano getting its own dedicated sound system and mics. A Sennheiser e 914 supercardioid condenser “pencil” mic captures the high registers, while an e 906 dynamic conveys the depth of the bass. Where very high gain before feedback is needed, Ultra Sound adds the e 901 boundary layer condenser inside with the lid closed.
“The Sennheiser microphones capture the nuance, clarity, tonal complexity, gorgeous treble and rich bass of a Bechstein,” says Sinigalliano. “Our miked pianos prepare an artist for the kind of sound they’re going to get in the recording studio.”
For acoustic instruments, Sinigalliano compliments about the Neumann KM 184 pencil condensers that he says, “is the Holy Grail for capturing the rich tone, detail and the delicate nuances of acoustic guitar.