Owned and managed by producer, engineer and mixer Matteo Cifelli, La Boutique Studio in North London is a hub with a real buzz about it. The team is busy mixing a live album by Sir Tom Jones, recorded at his recent show at the SSE Arena, using DiGiGrid interfaces.
Within the studio walls are production rooms, mix rooms, a large live room, and even a video production suite, all of which are pumping out productivity 24-7. Cifelli himself is in charge of the mixing (in 5.1), aided by Sir Tom’s long-time musical director and drummer, Gary Wallis, who tweaks and repairs tracks in the adjacent room. Then there’s studio engineer Raoul Terzi who, Cifelli says tongue-in-cheek, “does all the donkey work.” Raoul is doing all the syncing and looking after the audience mics from the show.
What’s great about the setup at La Boutique is that all team members are able to work on the same session simultaneously, which seriously improves workflow; and that’s all down to the deployment of a sizeable DiGiGrid system.
“I have always loved trying out new gear, and the minute I saw DiGiGrid, I just kind of ‘got it,’” says Cifelli, who has also been Sir Tom’s front-of-house guy for nearly a decade. “What we need here at La Boutique is integration, and we achieve this through DiGiGrid. There is at least one DiGiGrid interface in each of our production rooms, which allows for seamless connectivity throughout the studio. You don’t necessarily see it, but it’s everywhere; it’s basically our audio backbone.”
DiGiGrid was also used to record the Sir Tom show at the SSE Arena, and Cifelli recounts how it considerably reduced the footprint at the front-of-house position.
“For live recording, two DiGiGrid IOX interfaces have essentially replaced the Mac Pro, three HD cards, and the monitor,” Cifelli says. “It gives me capacity for 128 tracks, and all I need is a laptop with a single hard drive. And I had no issues at all. It didn’t stop once. The preamps are excellent, so the quality of audio is extremely good, but what I really love about DiGiGrid is the flexibility it offers, which gives me so much opportunity. For example, at the [SSE Arena] show, DiGiGrid was doing a double job: we used it to record the show; and then I used the DSP from a DiGiGrid DLS unit to run the [Waves] Butch Vig Vocals plugin on Sir Tom’s vocal via the MultiRack plugin host. I used one computer to run MultiRack, and one for the recording. It really is a fantastic piece of hardware.”
After the show, with “115 tracks of pristine audio” in tow, Cifelli headed back to base to begin setting up the mix sessions.
“We have DiGiGrid IOS, DLS, DLI, IOX, MGO, IOC… pretty much every DiGiGrid product you can think of,” laughs Cifelli. “This kit not only keeps all the audio and studios perfectly connected, but it allows me to mix here in 5.1, while the rest of the team do their jobs in their respective spaces. While I’ve been sat here, for example, Gary’s already trimmed the session down to 78 tracks out there [points next door] to help me prepare my mix—and that’s all down to DiGiGrid. Also, having DiGiGrid everywhere means any of our studios can become live rooms in an instant—just plug in an Ethernet cable to any one of our interfaces, and away you go. This is a very happening studio, and it requires a very modern way of working. And that’s what we do. In my opinion, it’s the future.”