When Ward Archer, owner of Memphis indie record label Archer Records, contemplated a new console as part of a recent studio expansion, he knew it had to be analog, discrete, automated, and 5.1-ready. Already a proud owner of a myriad of API outboard processors and an unabashed fan of the legendary API sound, it was a happy coincidence that the API Vision was the only console that met Archer's criteria. The 48-channel Vision will be installed in Archer Records' new studio and fully operational by the end of the summer.
In five short years, Archer Records has acquired a modest roster of unusually talented and successful Memphis artists who gracefully span and meld Americana, Classical, Folk, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, and Rock genres. Archer Records recently purchased an existing Memphis studio that is much larger than his former space for use as a musical "workshop" to be enjoyed by his artists and a few like-minded artists on other labels. He had only modest plans for the studio's upgrade. However, a new vision for the future marketability of his label's music (no pun intended) and the almost inevitable phenomenon of "scope creep" resulted in a complete overhaul of the new studio, with the new API console as its focal point. Recently, Archer recorded the hot new Amy LaVere release that has just climbed to number nine on the Americana chart.
"We like to record with live musicians with real instruments and the more we do that, the more I'm drawn back to the sound of all-discrete circuitry," Archer mused. "The API Vision is one of the very few all-discrete consoles that you can still buy new, and it's the only one that's designed from the ground up for surround work. I had considered 'used' all-discrete consoles, without surround of course, but I don't have the budget for a full time tech to keep an old console up and running. The five-year warranty on the Vision is very appealing to me. In addition, I really like the fact that, for all its versatility, it's still compact. The full automation on both upper and lower faders will be especially handy, giving us over 100 inputs at mix if we need them."
Surround sound capability may not be high on the priority list for many indie labels, but according to Archer, it makes sense. He said, "There's a burgeoning film industry here in Memphis, and within the last year we have licensed three songs for use in movies. The film/TV industry is a significant consumer of music, and the producers I've talked with say they like having an option for surround mixes, rather than adapting stereo mixes. I'm looking forward to helping make that possible in Memphis. Besides that, I personally think surround offers a greatly enhanced listening experience. Most of our mixes will remain in stereo, but the 5.1 option makes sense for us going forward."
Before committing to the API Vision, Archer and his trusted friend and engineer, Kevin Houston, traveled to the Walters-Storyk designed Duderstadt Center at the University of Michigan for a "test drive." They took a session they had recorded in Memphis. "Within 15 minutes, we were mixing," Archer laughed. "Both of us were familiar with the API Legacy and we had read a bit about the Vision, so we weren't coming into it completely blind. Even so, it was the first analog surround console that either of us had operated. The layout was intuitive, and Kevin had the automation up and running without any trouble. I'm really looking forward to the day we track our first session on it."