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Record Plant Remote Gears up for Nashville Star

Ringwood, New Jersey:
The Record Plant Remote has become legendary during more than 30 years of mobile recording service, capturing live performances by some of the biggest names in music for broadcast and release on disc, whether vinyl, CD or DVD. The truck, based in New Jersey, has long relied on API analog outboard equipment, and for the last ten years or so has also featured a 54-input Discrete API analog mixing console.

"The truck is API through and through, and that's one of my selling points," says owner and chief of engineering, Robert "Kooster" McAllister. A big fan of the sound and performance of designer Saul Walker's 2520 op amp, which is central to virtually every API product, he adds, "I have some of the original 2520s that have been in my truck for 20 years without a failure."

In addition to the console, the Record Plant Remote, which was originally designed by Wally Heider over 30 years ago, (although all that is left from the Heider days is the ceiling), is also outfitted with API 2500 and 525 compressors, 325 line amps, along with six ATI 8MX2 eight-channel mixer/mic preamps.

"I have the ATI 8MX2s for additional inputs," McAllister explains. "For example, for the 96-track recording of the Rolling Stones last year, I used those for when we got above 55 inputs. It's hard to believe that a rock 'n roll band like the Stones can end up with 80-some inputs! The 8MX2s are great, because they're these handy little all-in-one, eight mic pres with a submixer built in that are just phenomenal and sound great. I like the transients of those mic pres."

As for more recent projects, he continues, "I do a series called 'Nashville Star.' That's about to start up again in January, for the USA Network. This will be the fifth season. It's like 'American Idol' gone country, but there's no pre-produced music. There's a live band onstage at all times. There is nothing that gets your juices flowing more than engineering a live to air event. You have only one chance to get it right and your equipment cannot let you down. The proven reliability of my API gear is very comforting to me. The show is recorded on 48 tracks of Radar hard disc for archiving. Additional inputs like the audience tend to hit an 8MX2 then get fed to an eight-track digital format of some sort, usually a DA-98."

Other recent broadcast projects have included a monthly series for MTV Networks entitled "Decades," which is broadcast on VH1 Classic. McAllister reports, "They take an artist that has been around for a while and they bring in a current artist, and they do songs together and talk about their influences." Recent shows have included Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Heart, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt, whose September 2005 performance was released on DVD/CD this past August.

The Record Plant Remote's API console, the predecessor to the current Legacy Series, is a custom discrete design with Reset and is configured with 54 inputs, 48 busses, three stereo busses, ten aux sends and twelve returns, four cues and API 560 EQs. "They only built five of them. It's based on the API 2520 op amp, like the Vision and Legacy, which is the whole reason that I wanted it," reveals McAllister.

One piece of API gear that McAllister cannot live without is the API 2500 stereo buss compressor, he says. "That goes on everything that I do. I threw my Finalizer out and got the API. It's a wonderful sounding box. It gives you the punch and really tightens up the bottom end. It's one of the best pieces of gear that they've come out with in years."

The truck is also equipped with 500 Series compressors. "I probably have every version of the 525 compressor that they've made, from the very first one. I have a rack just of compressors." In addition, the vehicle's audio distribution system is based on API 325 line amp cards, which are transformer isolated with individual gain and selectable 600-ohm termination.