Studio 880

Once he discovered the Digidesign® ICON Integrated console, Studio 880 producer/owner John Lucasey simply had to have one of his own. “Jeff Salzman, the Killers’ producer, introduced me to the ICON,” Lucasey explains. “Jeff does a lot of work here, and he had his ICON in Studio A. When he set up his own studio and moved the ICON out, there was no way I was going to be without one.”

Since opening its doors in 1998, Studio 880 in Oakland, California has evolved into one of the Bay Area’s most In-demand creative hot spots. The facility houses four studios along with 22 production offices—making it one of the largest dedicated recording studios in Northern California. Bands like Smashmouth, Blackalicious, Switchfoot and Keith Urban call Studio 880 home, as does Green Day, whose best selling albums Warning and the Grammy-winning American Idiot were written and recorded there. The title track from American Idiot also won the studio a 2005 Mix Magazine Technical Excellence and Creativity Award.

“Initially I was opposed to the idea of the ICON,” Lucasey admits. “All of my consoles were SSLs and Neves, and I had always been of the mindset that a half-million dollar 2500 pound console that costs $1500 a month to power must be better. But then I had a couple of projects that were essentially tied to the ICON; it would have taken too much time and effort to move them over to an analog console and back, so I was kind of forced into working with the ICON. As I started learning my way around it, I was completely floored at what it was capable of. Within a couple of months I went out and bought one for Studio C, which is essentially my own private room.”

I have SSL, I have Neve, I have Focusrite, I have every console  my fingertips.  It's the ICON that constantly inspires me to try new things.

- John Lucasey, Studio 880 Producer/Owner

Studio C is equipped with a 32-fader ICON D-Control™, as well as two Pro Tools|HD®3 Accel systems replete with a massive array of plug-ins. “Pro Tools® plug-ins have made a tremendous leap in the last couple of years, both in the range of offerings and in their quality,” says Lucasey. “Many times they outweigh what my analog outboard gear can do. And the ability to recall every setting and parameter on every plug-in is invaluable when you’re working on as many projects as we are here.”

Lucasey’s packed schedule has him in a state of perpetual deadlines. “The ICON runs day and night here,” he says. Recent projects in the room have included mixing sessions for Norah Jones, Joss Stone and Chris Cornell. One of his most demanding projects is Soundcheck, a series of exclusive music video showcases in partnership with Walmart.com, which have included mixes for Yellowcard, Switchfoot, Ne-Yo, Jewel and Julie Roberts, as well as mastering the Goo Goo Dolls, Rascal Flatts and Miranda Lambert.

“I’m typically doing five to ten mixes per artist, two artists per week,” says Lucasey. “I send those mixes to the record labels for approval, and then implement any changes they ask for. If I had to do total recall of that many mixes on an analog console, it just wouldn’t be happening. With the ICON, everything’s just a click away—routing, automation, scenes—everything’s exactly as I left it.”

For Lucasey, ICON is more than just a time-saver, though. “The other really great thing about the ICON is that it’s really opened up my creativity again. When you’re working on an analog board, you develop certain habits. You become accustomed to certain settings – a certain EQ, a particular compression that becomes your sound—a sound you’re comfortable with. The ICON has gotten me out of being locked to that analog mindset. I have SSL, I have Neve, I have Focusrite, I have every console at my fingertips. It’s the ICON that constantly inspires me to try new things.”

For more information about Studio 880, visit www.studio880.com.