January 2016, Chicago, IL:
Don't let the name of the studio throw you; the only thing Rat City Sound is infested with is musicians. With the recent addition of a 32 channel API 1608, the studio is now so booked that owner Joseph Peven is considering adding rooms. In addition to founding the studio, Peven works as a producer and engineer, but says creating this space for other artists is, beyond question, the highlight of his career.
Founded in 2013, Rat City is housed within the much larger Fort Knox Studios on the northwest side of Chicago. "Rat City is best described as a cozy project studio," Peven explains, "consisting of a control room, plus one large booth. It's intimate and private, perfect as a mixing or overdub room for a producer working closely with an artist." The smaller space has not limited their extensive API gear list, which includes their 1608 as well as a host of 525s, 527s, 560s, 550As, and 550bs.
Peven's tip for getting the best out of the 1608 is to "drive the console hard. I tend to do that, and you can get some real good 'juice' out of it." Having a workhorse console fits Rat City well, where the majority of projects are rock and metal. "I also love funk bands," Peven adds, "but that doesn't happen nearly enough. I think the console lends itself well to genres that make me want to push the board to its limits."—which in fact is exactly what Peven does on many levels. "Everything I do uses the console in some way, from tracking to full blown mixing spread across every channel."
Peven got familiar with API early in his education on a Legacy console at Columbia College Chicago, but says his 1608 is "a perfect fit for what I'm doing. While the Legacy consoles have a lot of very attractive features, the 1608 covers absolutely everything I need for a studio of my size." Peven explains that the 1608 has added some specific advantages to the studio's capabilities. "Zero latency parallel hardware compression is pretty rad. Also, I really like the 1608's P-Mix automation. It's simple and easy to use and rock solid."
These elements shine through in Rat City recording sessions. Peven describes what he says was "by far my favorite session," with rock band Archie Powell and the Exports. "We crammed the entire band into the studio, with a guitar player standing on the couch and the keyboardist in the hallway, and knocked the whole song out in less time than it took to set up the mics. The 1608 made it a breeze to switch from tracking to mixing and we had the whole project completed the next day. The 1608 gave the songs a funkiness that wouldn't have been possible by just recording in the box."