Retro City Studios

Retro City Studios Philadelphia recording, mixing and mastering. For booking inquiries or more information about the st For more information please visit www.retrocitystudios.com
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Front & back.Thanks to  we had  come through and capture the current condition of the A control room. Sure does look dif...
09/02/2022

Front & back.
Thanks to we had come through and capture the current condition of the A control room. Sure does look different from a few years ago!

We’re loving the new Moog GrandMother synth. Especially next to it’s real Grandma, the Prodigy. But for real, the spring...
08/14/2022

We’re loving the new Moog GrandMother synth. Especially next to it’s real Grandma, the Prodigy. But for real, the spring reverb is just amazing.

Over the years I’ve found that there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding analog tape recording. I put this together to...
06/28/2022

Over the years I’ve found that there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding analog tape recording. I put this together to help explain the process, clear up any myths, and describe the different ways to utilize tape in recording, mixing and mastering. Give it a read through if you’re interested in analog recording. - Link in bio -

This is our main MCI JH110 1/4” 2 track mixdown machine. It’s one of three JH110s we own, the other two currently acting...
06/14/2022

This is our main MCI JH110 1/4” 2 track mixdown machine. It’s one of three JH110s we own, the other two currently acting more as service machines. It’s not only a classic mixdown recorder but also excels as a tape delay. This along with one other machine came from studios in Washington DC where it was regularly serviced and cared for. We like to think it recorded a lot of classic Terry Gross interviews. The other 110 (back left) we purchased from at and was used on multiple records of which Andy and I are big fans. We love getting gear with history, cool to see it live on and continue to be a part of good music over 40+ years later!

More   soundtrack setups. Ludwig/Yamaha mid 70’s tom mashup, no resonant heads. Mostly era mics, all into the Neve then ...
03/24/2022

More soundtrack setups. Ludwig/Yamaha mid 70’s tom mashup, no resonant heads. Mostly era mics, all into the Neve then through the MCI.

Rarely seen angle of the live room during setup for a recent session that   captured while doing some maintenance on a r...
02/14/2022

Rarely seen angle of the live room during setup for a recent session that captured while doing some maintenance on a really tall ladder.

Warm pic of the console area from .kit shot over this past summer. Since this was taken we’ve added the new racks, and d...
12/01/2021

Warm pic of the console area from .kit shot over this past summer. Since this was taken we’ve added the new racks, and done some additional tuning to the room and ATCs.

We recently remodeled our Iso 2. This space gets used pretty regularly these days for recording so we thought it was tim...
10/07/2021

We recently remodeled our Iso 2. This space gets used pretty regularly these days for recording so we thought it was time to pull down the old “temporary” acoustical treatments and re-tune with custom panels. Also, it’s a through-way to our control room so we thought it would be a nice change.

We added much more connectivity to the room during our last big overhaul while we were closed for Covid restrictions. Like the other Iso rooms in the studio, it’s easy to get signal to and from this room and connect it to any other area in the studio. This type of connectivity can come in really handy for big tracking sessions with lots of inputs.

 live performance filmed and mixed here at Retro City airs this evening on
09/09/2021

live performance filmed and mixed here at Retro City airs this evening on

09/09/2021

in studio performance filmed and mixed here at Retro City airs tonight on

This Neve 88R rack of 1081s came in through  recently and is finally racked up, and in the bay. We love getting gear wit...
08/31/2021

This Neve 88R rack of 1081s came in through recently and is finally racked up, and in the bay. We love getting gear with history, and these certainly have plenty of that. They come from and were owned by one of our favorites (Eric Valentine). He often used them at the actual source, and would run line level signal back to the converter to get the least amount of signal loss as possible. They can be remote controlled but we use them locally in our control room. These pre amps have been used on a ton of great records over the past 25 years, we’re glad to keep them in service!

We recently installed new racks in the control room. After looking at other rack manufactures we realized the only way w...
07/27/2021

We recently installed new racks in the control room. After looking at other rack manufactures we realized the only way we can get the the exact size and space we needed would be to build them ourselves. We had pretty specific requirements, including the ability to roll the entire rack out at once for service as well as keeping the gear placement ergonomic and below the “close reflections” height.
With the help of the talented we designed, cut, built, stained and finished the entire rack over the period of a few weeks. However, installing the racks along with a new patchbay and re-wiring all the gear was arguably more work. Despite the massive job it turned out to be, we’re really happy with the way it turned out. Special thanks to for the helping hands.

07/25/2021
Recently had  and  in (The Blair Brothers) working on the soundtrack to a pretty classic remake that’s currently being f...
07/19/2021

Recently had and in (The Blair Brothers) working on the soundtrack to a pretty classic remake that’s currently being filmed. It’s always a pleasure to utilize the full studio the way they often do. Among other tracking like guitars and keys, it’s often centered around multiple drum setups from small vintage kits to huge tom arrays!

Nice shot of  and  by  of a rarely seen angle of the control room (from behind the console). In this view you can see th...
06/28/2021

Nice shot of and by of a rarely seen angle of the control room (from behind the console). In this view you can see the newly installed diffusion and bass traps on the rear wall between the control room and lounge area, and how they work to even out the reflections from the back of the room to mix position.

Some recent changes to our B room rig. We swapped out our Dangerous Music D-Box to the   TB4MKII monitor controller. As ...
06/13/2021

Some recent changes to our B room rig. We swapped out our Dangerous Music D-Box to the TB4MKII monitor controller. As much as we love the D-Box it included a lot of features we didn’t have an immediate use for in that studio. The idea behind our B room is based on a plug and play setup to allow producers and engineers to be connected and making music within minutes of arriving. So we felt the clean, simple passive analogue design of the Coleman would be a great addition.
We also added a 1073 mic pre to the rig. The BAE pres are modeled after the original Neve build and meticulously follow the class A hand-wired transformer coupling that Rupert Neve designed over 50 years ago. So far it’s been a pleasure to use and adds a lot of life to pretty much any microphone that it’s paired with.

Tomorrow at 8pm eastern is  last pandemic virtual performance (probably) and we’re excited to have hosted it.
06/07/2021

Tomorrow at 8pm eastern is last pandemic virtual performance (probably) and we’re excited to have hosted it.

Our  ELOP is one of the most popular compressor/limiters in the racks these days, especially for tracking. It’s ultra tr...
05/25/2021

Our ELOP is one of the most popular compressor/limiters in the racks these days, especially for tracking. It’s ultra transparent when used lightly and is an invaluable tool for recording vocals that need to be leveled but not sound “compressed”. It uses an electro-opto gain reduction cell but an all tube amplification stage which gives it a nice round and natural sound. But used heavy handed it gives the sought after thick compression sound similar to its forefather the Teletronix LA-2A.
However our favorite aspect of this piece of gear is its history. We bought it from Mr. where it lived at the legendary and was used on lots of great records over the past 25 years. We love when the opportunity arrises to pick up gear that was used by friends/peers/like-minded folks, just seems a little more like a creative tool than “equipment”. Hope this goes on to be apart of great records for another 25+ years.

*ps... 13 years ago, when I was just starting Retro, I called Tiny Telephone on a whim and surprisingly John picked up. I told him I was a fan of both his music and his studio, and that I was opening a studio myself in Philly. He kindly took time to talk to me for well over 45 mins, giving advise and great info I still use today. I was super appreciative he did that for someone all the way across the country he’s never met. That was something I’ll never forget. If you’re reading this John, thanks for being a great human.

Our 1978 MCI JH16 2” tape machine has been used on a lot of records over the years and continues to be a reliable workho...
05/05/2021

Our 1978 MCI JH16 2” tape machine has been used on a lot of records over the years and continues to be a reliable workhorse over 43 years later. As most 2” machines in service are 24 track, this machine is actually 16 tracks on 2” tape, which allows for the most amount of tape per track. That, along with the large input and output transformers help to give it the natural warm, rich “tape” sound that many plugins work to emulate. Our unit also has an Autolocate III remote control which allows for the transport controls to be right next to mix position as well as easily locating tape positions.
This machine was bought new in 1978 and has been meticulously maintained by multiple owners since its original purchase. Before becoming part of Retro transported it all the way to Nashville for a full headstack overhaul by renowned MCI guru Randy Blevins (Blevins Audio). Since then, Philly legend Jeff Chestak helps to keep it running smooth. And after recently finding a good source for original spare parts we, hope to keep this machine in great shape for years to come.

04/21/2021

Our new 800hz diffuser designed by is mounted on the redesigned rear wall of the control room. That along with the new bass traps (located in the pic on the left of the doors) are tuned to balance the whole room. Low end is notoriously hard to control so this design helps to balance low end/mid build up in the back of the room as well as control reflections at mix position.

Adding the glass doors were a large part of the renovation as well. When kept open they allow the control room and lounge to feel like one large space, but closing them allows us more isolation for critical listening and tracking situations. We wanted to keep the feel of the “open concept” control room but have more control over the acoustics and this renovation made that possible.

Here’s a shot of Soupy from  in Iso 1 from  story about the return of live music. The Wonder Years live stream from last...
04/14/2021

Here’s a shot of Soupy from in Iso 1 from story about the return of live music. The Wonder Years live stream from last June was our first session back after being closed almost 3 straight months for quarantine.
Like many others, we took that time and tried to make the best of it. We did some pretty major renovations to the control room and the equipment. It was a massive amount of work but we’re really happy with the results. We like to think of the post-quarantine era as Retro City 2.0. We consider that live stream an important day for the us, not only because TWY trusted us to handle their first live performance back, but also the return of making music in the studio.

The Ampex MX-10 is one of our “go to” preamps when we want a full vintage tube tone. Manufactured by Ampex in the early ...
03/23/2021

The Ampex MX-10 is one of our “go to” preamps when we want a full vintage tube tone. Manufactured by Ampex in the early 60’s it’s actually designed as a preamp/line mixer. And although we rarely use it this way, we have summed multiple tracks down to stereo using it’s all tube summing amplifier. It’s a really handy tool to warm up harsh digital tracks!
The preamp also distorts nicely with rich 2nd and 3rd harmonics, which is useful when a track is is coming through a bit too sterile. Overall it works as a great companion piece to our other solid state preamp selections.

03/18/2021

tracking drum, synth and piano loops. Always a pleasure working with creative folks who find different ways to utilize the whole studio during their sessions. One of the reasons we made sure to have a high simultaneous input count is to be able to offer “stations” in sessions like this. That way, once everything is setup and checked, the artist can move from station to station to continuously record without long breaks to tear down and build new setups. This ends up being a very efficient way of recording during long days or lockouts when lots of material needs to be tracked.

This beautiful condition  Prodigy came in via  and was recently serviced and brought back to original spec by tech extra...
03/08/2021

This beautiful condition Prodigy came in via and was recently serviced and brought back to original spec by tech extraordinaire . These analog monophonic synthesizers were built from 79’-84’ and were well known to produce a thick “square wave” tone that was heavily used on classic synth/pop records of the late 70’s all the way through the 90’s.
Although lots of companies these days make great VST versions, there’s just something about the original that’s hard to replicate exactly. Plug this directly into a DI or an amp and it’s instantly recognizable.

*Fun fact: The Prodigy (Firestarter) took their name from this classic synth.

02/27/2021

Ask five different studio folks what their favorite monitors are and you’re likely to get five totally different answers. Speakers are one of the more subjective tools in the studio. So when we were looking for new monitors recently we knew we needed something ultra detailed and honest even at super high volumes. Since we host lots of different engineers and producers we knew translation would be important, so we quickly settled on the ATC SCM45As.

ATC is one of the more universally lauded speaker manufactures because of their hyper accurate mid range “dome” and overall high volume/ultra low distortion capabilities. Since installing them (along with a pair of Subwoofer Pros 18” subs) we’ve noticed mixes translating to real world speakers in half the time! They are not only a valuable tool but also really fun to listen to, especially at high volumes.

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6120 Greene Street
Philadelphia, PA
19144

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