US: New York facility Allaire Studios recently acquired and installed the world-renowned Neve 'Air Montserrat' console in its Great Hall control room. The 58-input desk - used to capture classic recordings by The Police and Stevie Wonder, among others - is one of only three ever made and the only one available in the US. "Having made the decision to remove our SSL 9000J, we knew that its replacement had to make a statement," studio manager Mark McKenna tells David Davies.
As one of three consoles specified by Sir George Martin for Air Studios and designed by Rupert Neve, the Air Montserrat desk incorporates remote-controlled microphone preamps and toroidal transformers, coupled with integrated circuits that enable frequency response to almost 100K before significant roll-off. Following a lengthy tenure at Air Montserrat where it was used to record classic albums including The Police's Synchronicity, the console was acquired by A Records for its Los Angeles recording complex and utilised for sessions by Don Henley, Aerosmith and Patti Smith.
Now, after a long period in the warehouse, the console has been restored by Allaire Studios' chief technical engineer, Ken McKim, prior to its installation in the Great Hall, where it has already been used to record a Branford Marsalis-produced album by Chilean singer Claudia Acuna.
"Having made the decision to remove our SSL 9000J, we knew that its replacement had to make a statement," says studio manager Mark McKenna, whose familiarity with the desk dates back to his involvement with Don Henley's 1989 album, The End of the Innocence. "The console's size, features, reputation and pedigree make it one of the world's most unique recording desks. To have the only version of this desk in the US is a feather in our cap. Refurbishment of the console was essential, and our decision to take this project on has been validated by the raves we've received from all those who've used it so far. Those users include some tough critics like Joe Ferla, Neil Dorfsman, John Siket, Branford Marsalis and his engineer Rob Hunter."
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