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Fast and Furious: where old meets new

To face shrinking recording budgets, a veteran sound engineer offers an all-in package, from vintage hardware to digital distribution.

After many years working in studios and on live events in Italy and abroad, veteran Italian sound engineer, producer and musician Marco Lecci (pictured) has decided to launch a recording and mastering facility in his home city of Rome, tailoring it to suit the dramatically changed music production situation.
Fast and Furious is located in the Eternal City’s Monteverde district, which has the typical feel of a Mediterranean town in as far as environment,easy-going atmosphere and great food are concerned.
As well as work with top Italian artists and international names such as BB King, Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Steve Swallow, Dionne Warwick and Chet Baker, Lecci’s impressive CV includes seminars on ‘Professions in the music industry’, consultancy work with record majors and national radio networks and the production of music for top TV shows.
To meet new studio parameters, due to changes in record production economics, Lecci’s Fast and Furious is based on a mastering suite format that takes digital signal management to esoteric levels, with the perfect sync of the Apogee Rosetta 800 and Nuendo DD8 converters being ensured by the latest generation of master clock generators: the universal high-definition Antelope Trinity.
Lecci explains the choice of control room hardware: “Nowadays, projects frequently begin in producers’ home studios and arrive as files or stems, so there’s less need to handle a large number of analogue channels, eliminating the necessity for a large main desk.”
In fact, the room features a speaker switcher, precision parametric EQ, stereo mic preamp and summing mix unit, all of which are hand-built custom units by Livio Argentini, founder of Audio Line, a Rome-based high-end pro-audio and broadcast hardware designer since the ’70s, whose products are used by RAI, Radio Vatican and Mediaset.
The rest is mainly vintage gear: a Harrison channel strip, MCI channel strip, Aerovox passive EQ, Neve comp, SSL buss compressor (Logic FX G384), Universal Audio preamps and compressor, UAD powered plug-ins, and more.

Collected over the years, the equipment has been lovingly refurbished by a group of Lecci’s specialist engineer friends.
Pro Tools 10 and Nuendo 5 are used for production and editing, and Magix Sequoia software for mastering.
Monitors used in the comfortable, lounge-like mastering control room are ultra-compact Focal Performance Solo6 Be with relative Sub6 subwoofers, Yamaha NS10M and Crown DC 300A powered vintage Auratone enclosures.
The adjacent Overlook recording studio, with a 70sqm recording room and 50sqm control room, is based on Pro Tools 10 HD with Avid HD I/O interfaces and ProControl desk; plug-ins include Waves and UAD tools.
Here too the Antelope Trinity master clock plays a key role, as does a Maselec STM 822 stem mixer. Outboards include Audio Line AL-111 and Universal Audio preamps, eight channels of transformer-less preamp custom-built by specialist Italian Sandro Passarella, API 512C preamp (a module for the legendary ‘lunchbox’ format), Neve 33609J limiter/compressor, SSL bus comp and Aerovox passive EQ.

In this room, the monitors are Focal SM9 (switchable between two and three-way operating mode), Adam S3A and Dynaudio BM 6A.
The rooms were designed by Lecci and a group of designers from Rome’s RCA recording studios. He explains: “We decided not to use large main monitors, so didn’t carry out acoustic correction in the entire control room, but limited the work to ensuring top grade sound for whoever’s at the console, enabling our initial investments to be kept down.”
The studios have private parking (a godsend in Rome), WiFi facilities, bar service and light catering – as Lecci says: “Just like the big boys, but with a craftsman’s touch!”
As well as the comfortable stimulating environment and the combination of vintage hardware and leading-edge software, a key feature of Lecci’s modus operandi is the new business format adopted, basing studio rates on the clients’ possibilities and their desire to take the business risk together after analysing aspects such as finance, work, rights, royalties, etc.

His quality production, based on expertise and respecting time frames that reduce down-time to a minimum, can thus become a partnership with artists that continues after the actual recording.
Lecci, whose studio’s motto is ‘Connecting artists with the real world’, explains, in conclusion: “I recently inked an agreement with a ‘young’ company specialised in promo-marketing on a digitals store called Limited Music, thanks to which we have direct access to distribution with iTunes, Believe Digital, and over 100 other digital stores on the web. I like to describe the service we provide as ‘multitasking’, since we offer artists the possibility of a partnership that takes their projects from the initial idea, through production; distribution and promotion to live events.”

Story: Mike Clark