Austin, Texas - March 2010:
Austin's yellow DOG Studios is home to independent producer and engineer David Percefull, whose vital work with emerging artists and established indie acts has earned him deep respect from both sides of the microphone. The name and spirit of yellow DOG Studios has been with Percefull for fifteen years, originating with Buddy, a wonderful yellow Lab who made himself at home in Percefull's original project studio in his long-time home of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now back online in Austin, after the recent purchase of former Five AM Studios, yellow DOG Studios is brimming with mics, pres, outboard processors, and digital & analog recorders of such quantity and quality that reading them off in litany risks stopping the heart of any pro audio gear devotee. But to top it all off, yellow DOG Studios now centers Studio 1 around a 32-channel API 1608 console, outfitted with API 500-Series modules.
Over a decade of work made Percefull, who has recorded several albums at Abbey Road among other big-name studios, one of the major players in Tulsa, a city with a vibrant music scene that few comparably-sized cities can match. "At this point, my work is basically international. I have clients everywhere," he said. "I moved to Austin, not to compete with the city's well-established recording industry, but to embrace it. I wanted to be able to rent gear. I wanted to get good studio techs and assistant engineers. In Tulsa, if I needed, say, a Bösendorfer piano, I was SOL, but in Austin I can get my hands on anything I need."
In partnership with producer-musician Ed Robinson and singer-songwriter Steve Hudson, Percefull organized the buy out of 5AM Studios when it came up for sale a few months ago. All of the outboard gear and mics are still in place; they were owned by Hudson and Robinson and leased to 5AM. They put Percefull's vintage Soundcraft 1600 in Studio 2 for use both as a summing mixer and as a means to incorporate the studio's wealth of analog outboard gear into Pro Tools mixes. But Studio 1 came with no console at all, just outboard gear stitched together to work with virtual mixes. Among the studio's plethora of mic preamps were twelve channels of API 3124s.
"I've worked on a lot of large-format consoles, but I had very little experience with API," said Percefull. "When we decided we wanted to purchase a small-frame console for Studio 1, we surveyed our fairly limited options. But I kept coming back to the sound of the 3124s, which I had fallen in love with. That, together with the adamant recommendation of my friend and fellow engineer Chris Bauer and the API 1608's ability to accept 500-Series modules from any VPR manufacturer, sealed the deal."
In the short time that yellow DOG has had the 1608, Percefull has already recorded half an album with Brandon Jenkins, an EP for Calling Matthew, started a new project with Phil Marshall and is mixing an album for Mike Kelly. The API 1608 interfaces with Pro Tools HD, with AD/DA conversion and clocking by Apogee, and a restored MCI two-inch, 24-track analog tape machine. "If I had to summarize the 1608 in one word, it would be PUNCH! - with the exclamation mark," laughed Percefull. "It's the real deal. It's a modern classic as far as I can tell. I can turn every preamp and fader all the way up and there is no noise at all. It has tons of punch and openness at the same time. I know I'm not a Grammy-winning engineer, but I've recorded literally hundreds of albums on a ton of gear, and the 1608 is an absolute gem."