Chicago, Illinois - April 2008:
More than fifteen years after an inexpensive digital audio multi-track tape machine kick-started the project studio revolution, analog audio equipment retains its allure in the home environment. One such residence-based studio owner, engineer, producer and analog fan, Bill Thomas, has purchased a new API 1608 discrete analog recording console for his Chicago facility, which also houses an analog tape machine and an array of analog and digital outboard processing equipment.
Thomas, who spent years touring with bands beginning in the 1980s, has worked with musicians and engineers in the Chicago area and a number of artists from across the country. "I work ten hours a day in there," he says of his studio. "I'm a musician and I handle a lot of material myself." He also offers his own unique take on working with independent recording artists. "I don't tell anybody if their music is good or bad, I just try to make their sessions interesting and productive."
Although his control room houses plenty of outboard processing, Thomas plans to max out the 1608 console's standard array of twelve 550A three-band equalizers and four 560 ten-band graphic EQ modules and fill the remaining 500 Series module positions, including eight API compressors. Thomas has been a user of API products for many years, he reveals: "I also have two API 2500 stereo bus compressors because I like their sound."
Thomas may favor analog gear, but his studio houses a hybrid set up that also encompasses digital production equipment, offering the best of both worlds. "I recently switched to Logic Pro and Apogee 16X converters, synched to a two-inch, 16-track JH analog tape machine. I also work with Pro Tools, and I have a lot of old school AMS and Eventide and other effects boxes and outboard compressors," he says, "but I prefer to work on analog tape. That's just my deal."
In addition to keeping busy on many and various recording projects, Thomas somehow finds time to contribute to online audio gear forums, also runs another, much larger Chicago-based home facility, and is involved in equipment sales. "I am the Midwest representative for Mercenary Audio," he says. "My facility is also a demo room for Mercenary Chicago, so people can come and listen to the console and other gear. I've known, Mercenary Audio owner, Fletcher and COO, Jay Fitz for a long time. In fact, I'm the lone soldier for high-end audio gear in Chicago."