“I want the listener to be transported into the music,” says Alex Sterling, the primary proprietor of his studio that – like many a classic album – is self-titled.
The more you investigate this unusual sanctuary of sound on the Upper West Side, the more intriguing it becomes. For instance, Sterling considers himself a double-threat expert in both electronic/hip hop music, and audiophile-quality acoustic recording – an unusual combination.
And for instance anew, Sterling’s live room is treated not with acoustic paneling, but the collective effects of 3,000 books. We’d say you have to see it to believe it, but hearing it is an even better idea.
Facility Name: Alex Sterling, Audio Engineer & Producer
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan
Neighborhood Advantages: My studio is in a relaxed and pleasant neighborhood that’s easy to get to from anywhere in the city. There are lots of great restaurants and amenities nearby.
Date of Birth: I started doing music production and engineering in 2000 — I opened my own studio in 2006.
Facility Focus: I provide a full range of engineering and production services. At my studio, I focus on vocal and instrumental overdubs, music production, editing, mixing, and mastering. I am comfortable working with any style of music but I do have two main specialties:
My first specialty is electronic and hip-hop music production, mixing, and mastering. I’m very familiar with the production techniques, mixing styles, and mastering issues that are involved with making this music, and I’ve done many projects entirely in-house. Clients may come to me with existing instrumentals that we develop further, or we may produce entirely new instrumentals together. We then record vocals, edit, mix, and master. Working on a project in one place from start to finish can be very efficient — I’ve worked on several singles that were completely produced, engineered, and then released in just a few days.
My second specialty is audiophile-quality acoustic music recording and mixing. I have substantial experience using minimalist mic techniques (stereo pair, binaural, B-Format, etc.) to make hyper-realistic recordings. I work on jazz, classical, world, and folk projects that require the utmost recording and mixing fidelity. These recordings are usually made on location, in beautiful-sounding spaces like churches and concert halls, but can also be made in studios, rooms, and chambers for a more intimate ambience. I mix a lot of acoustic projects that require enhancement with a delicate touch, paying particularly close attention to creating a palpable and realistic spatial ambience. I want the listener to be transported into the music.
If a project requires, I may work at other studios or on location. Sometimes I’ll track a large ensemble elsewhere and bring the files back to my studio to add overdubs, edit, mix, and master. This workflow is very cost-effective for some projects, and enables clients to keep costs down without sacrificing quality.
Mission Statement: Make it sound good!
Clients/Credits: I have had the pleasure to work with: Bryan Baker, Cady Wire, Chesky Records, David Carradine, David Chesky, Dave Eggar, Gretchen Parlato, HDTracks, Jake Snider, Jazz at Lincoln Center, John Doman, Julian De La Chica, Lauren Desberg, Madame Complot, Manhattan Production Music, Melcher Media, Michael Feinstein, Paquito D’Rivera, Roy Hargrove, Sam Reider and The Lost Boys, Simon & Schuster, Stone Forest Ensemble, The Armand Hirsch Trio, The Culture Center, The Museum of Sound Recording, The Philharmonic Orchestra of The Americas, Tom Chiu, Upper West, Wingteam Music, and more…
Key Personnel: Alex Sterling (owner, engineer, and producer.)
System Highlights: I am a firm believer in using high-quality gear. Having access to good tools makes my work easier and helps get the results I want quickly — here are some highlights from my studio:
Mics: Bock Audio 251, Royer R-122, Placid Audio Copperphone.
Instruments: 1929 Steinway M Grand Piano, Moog Little Phatty SE II analog synth.
EQ/Dynamics: API 5500, API 2500, Dangerous Music BAX, Empirical Labs Distressor (2), Empirical Labs EL-DS (2), Manley ELOP, Pendulum Audio PL-2, Retro Instruments STA-Level.
Mic Preamps/Converters: API 512c (2), Chandler Little Devil (2), Manley Dual Mono, Apogee Symphony I/O AD/DA.
Monitoring: ADAM S3X-H mid-field monitors, Avantone Mixcubes, Ultimate Ears custom in ear monitors, Sennheiser HD 600 headphones, Grace Design m902 headphone amp.
Software: ProTools 10, Logic Pro 9, Melodyne Editor, Izotope Ozone 5, Izotope RX2, Izotope Stutter Edit, Elysia Alpha Compressor, SPL PassEQ, Softube Summit Audio Grand Channel, Softube Tonelux Tilt, Softube Tube-Tech Classic Channel, Softube TSAR-1, SoundToys Native Effects, SSL Duende Native, Flux Epure II, Flux Elixir, Flux Solera II, Flux Alchemist, 2c Audio Aether, NI Komplete 7.
Distinguishing Characteristics: I’ve put a lot of resources and care into the design of the control room in order to create a very accurate listening environment. I have a substantial amount of high-end gear that is hard to find, outside of much larger and more expensive facilities. The live room is a very unique space that contains more than three thousand books. The books diffuse reflections very well and make the room very textured and inviting.
The building is on fire, you only have time to grab ONE thing to save, what is it? My Bock 251 lives in a road case…
Rave Reviews: What do people tell you they like/love about your studio? People like that I’m easy to work with and deliver great results. I put my best efforts and creativity into each project and that comes through in the final product.
Session You’d Like to Forget: I’ve had a few of those…
— Alex Sterling, Engineer/Producer