Philosophy

We Love Musicians

We feel that it’s our job to wrangle the elements to make our clients’ musical experience one in which they feel comfortable and creative. We’re known for our touch with artists and the many reviews from satisfied clients speak for themselves.
We also have a particular soft spot for artists who may be less schooled or accomplished, raw artists who come can sometimes approach their musical ideas with a certain unique freshness.

The Black Book

As stated, we love musicians and, while we have a soft spot for the super cool take of artists who are new to their craft, we are always impressed with someone who is a true master of their instrument. We keep a little book with the contact info of anyone (and there have been a lot of them) who has come through here and nailed it. So we have a deep backfield of all kinds of session cats. Need horns? Strings? Background singers? Organ or vibes experts? Check the Black Book.

Analog Versus Digital

We’re often asked to weigh in on this thorny question, being as we are, one of the last of a handful of studios standing in New York City that use and revere tape, tubes, big iron transformers and a classic sound. It’s true that we’ve spent decades gathering equipment, experience and knowledge whose sole purpose is to tease a magic wisp of smoke from any song or performance, and using beautiful, vintage and well-maintained gear is often the clearest route to that goal. But (after a bit of soul searching in the ‘90s) we relented and let our curiosity welcome us into the world of tiny particles of finely ground digital sound and thus began the happy marriage of the two sides of the A/D divide. It’s been said many times but of course any piece of technology is in the service of the creative process, and if a creative impulse is best served with a Casio SK1 sampler and Pro Tools rather than a U47 through a Neve strip, then so be it. Of course it’s nice to have the Neumann and the Neve in your back pocket, just in case the mood strikes. As a famous New York bumper sticker advertising Edelman’s Sporting Goods once advised: “Make Love Not War. Be Prepared For Both”.

Production

Engineer/producers operate along a continuum between the purely technical (setting up mics, adjusting levels, organizing sound) and the collaborative (suggesting arrangements, concept, songwriting help, vibe curation). We can tailor our style to whatever level of involvement suits you.

Why New York City?

New York is a famously difficult place to survive, physically emotionally, as a business or a private citizen. Twenty years ago the neighborhood was downright dangerous, and now the perils of a too-successful economic turnaround have put real estate out of reach for many. It’s crowded, hot in the summer and cold by November. Famous, landmark recording studios are dropping like flies. So why here? Well, the reasons end up being cultural and artistic. This just seems to be a place where things happen, where the energy is right for cool things to bubble up. Believe us, we’d love to toodle around with the top down in San Diego or Tucson. But there’s something about the pressure cooker of this city that makes for good art and volumes have been written on why exactly.

How Did We Get Our Name?

In the early days when our place was a “project studio” before there was a term for such a thing, I was asked by a client for the studio’s handle. It hadn’t occurred to me to name the place which, in retrospect, seems like a tremendous oversight given how powerful a name can be as a totem or focusing device. I looked over at the pile of albums leaning against my record player (the studio was then in my loft on the Lower East Side) and the first record I saw was Teenage Head by the Flaming Groovies. I blurted out “New York Hed Studio”. It was a bit of word play. The misspelling was intentional but only just, more whimsical. I mean, I like the Groovies a lot, but it wasn’t a tribute to them, just a spur-of-the-moment association. That name got printed on a few singles and albums and that was it. I liked how it implied a particular frame of mind, a “New York head”, a distinctively NYC approach to making art and music. Later I discovered that nyhed means “new” or “novel”, suggestive of innovation in Danish. So we owned it and it’s been called that ever since.

Other Services:

Tape Transfer

We can digitize tapes that are in the 2 inch (multi track 16 or 24) or 1/2 inch (stereo) formats. We can also print digital files onto any format of tape for extra juiciness. We can “bake” (restore) tapes of any format that are shedding and dropping out.

Video

We are adding a video editing and scoring facility that we expect to have on line by February 2016. Stay tuned.

Used Or “One-Pass” Tape

In an effort to provide a low-cost entry into analog recording, we have used 2-inch tape for sale ($140/reel) or rent ($85/ reel) which we source from a supplier who guarantees its condition and quality.

A Note About Tape Speed

1 reel of (2” or ½”) tape lasts for approximately 16 minutes at the fast speed (30 ips) or 32 minutes at the slow speed (15 ips). Both speeds are considered to be high fidelity and each has its own sonic qualities. Since the 1970s, 30 ips has been the industry standard because of more clarity “up top” in the higher frequencies although many artists prefer 15 ips because of the perceived solidity in the bass response. We have recorded many albums at either speed and often feel that such a decision can be made at the beginning of the recording process. For more on the advantages of each tape speed read some of these helpful strings:

http://messageboard.tapeop.com/viewtopic.php?p=474075

http://recording.org/hybrid-recording-forums/5398-15-or-30-ips-2-analog.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_tape_specifications

 

Articles

MV Tape Op article (from old site)

 

Policies and Disclaimers:

Deposits

A 50% deposit in advance of the sessions is required to hold booked dates at the studio.

Cancellation

Clients are responsible for the full fee for booked sessions that are cancelled with less than 10 days’ notice.

Liability

NY Hed Studio is not responsible for gear, instruments, tapes, media or possessions left at studio.