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January 2014 l 21

studioreport ITALY Roots, rock and chianti

Award-winning Italian recording engineer/producer opens new studio, reports Mike Clark

AFTER SEVERAL years of working around the world in studios in the US (Hit Factory, Quad), the UK (Metropolis, Abbey Road) and Mexico City (Obra Negra, Montecristo) Italian recording studio engineer, mixer, musician and producer Fabrizio “Simoncia” Simoncioni recently returned to Italy to open his own studio, The Garage. Located in the heart of

Tuscany’s Chianti area, as well as state-of-the-art recording facilities (it hosts one of the country’s only two SSL 9000J consoles), amenities include two historical country houses with eight bedrooms, three media rooms, a billiard room and patio, a 25-acre garden and swimming pool.

Although he suggests that

Italy is off the international recording circuit, he explains: “In seven years working in the

Simoncioni in front of his SSL 9000 J console

US and Mexico, I managed to build up a reputation and a client roster that allowed me to decide where to mix the projects I work on, most of which I do ‘unattended’. This enabled me to come back to Italy, close to my family, while continuing to work for the international market, thanks to my friend and colleague Fabrizio Vanni, who has invested in my idea.” Since his early days as a successful ’80s ‘Italo-disco’ artist/composer, Simoncioni has accumulated over 30 years’ mixing and production experience, specialising in rock and pop and, working with top Italian & Latino American

He continues, “I’ve worked

for over 20 years on SSL 4000 consoles, which I find the most versatile and powerful for mixing. For the Garage, I chose the 9000J to make the most of the multi-buss mixing technique and because its signal-to-noise ratio and headroom are even better than the 4000, plus its automation is more complete.” In front of the SSL board, the main monitors are Genelec 1034B with 7073A subwoofer, nearfields a pair of KRK V88 biamped speakers and standard Yamaha NS-10Ms with a NAD amplifier. A Tivoli Audio Model One is available for mono checks. In addition to Pro

Exterior of the Garage. Not shown: a garage

artists, has over 50 platinum and many gold records to his credit, as well as a Latin Grammy Awards “Best Album of the Year” nomination. On his travels he’s worked with the likes of producer Tom Lord-Alge and engineer Michael Tacci.

Tools 10 HD, a second DAW system used for masters is based on SoundBlade Sonic Solution software, enabling to print the mix in standard hi-res format (up to 192kHz at 24-bit stereo). As well as having a grand selection of

plug-ins, including the Waves Mercury Bundle, Brainworx, Sonnox, Sound Toys and PSP, Simoncioni has numerous outboard units available to him. “Since the facility was planned first of all as my personal mixing studio, they’re the ones I prefer to use for various

purposes. If obliged to choose my favourites, I’d say: the Bricasti M7, unbeatable for reverb on vocals; Chandler’s Germanium, for parallel compression on drums and bass: and a processing chain on the master, made up of a pair of Maag Eq4 and a Shadow Hills Dual Vandergraph compressor. I’d also be hard-put to do without the Dolby 361 with CAT22 and AMS DMX-1580s, which I use together to give vocals’ ‘old school’ dimension and brightness.” Tuscany has always been one

of Italy’s favourite locations for foreign visitors and artists – Sting has an estate there – and Simoncioni’s idea seems to have been given the international seal of approval: “In the few months since we opened, the only Italian project has been the Déjà Vu album by Negrita (the band has already a platinum and two gold albums on which Simoncioni worked). Other mixing work has included three albums by Mexican artists and a beautiful country pop project by The Iveys from Texas. “The studio has two adjoining recording rooms, so we’re also able to take commercial projects through from start to finish, and have already had requests from artists and producers, precisely for the opportunity of working in such a unique location.”

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