The Hit Factory

The Hit Factory was a recording studio in New York City which was operated for more than thirty years by owner Ed Germano.[1] The Hit Factory closed on April 1, 2005. Troy Germano re-acquired The Hit Factory name, trademark, IP and brand in late-2018 from his family's estate.

Studio 1 at The Hit Factory, 421 West 54th Street

HistoryEdit

Jerry Ragovoy, a famous songwriter & record producer, founded The Hit Factory in New York City in 1968. On March 6, 1975, Jerry sold the studios to Edward Germano, a singer, record producer, and one of the principal owners of The Record Plant Studios New York.[2] At that time The Hit Factory studios were located at 353 West 48th Street[3] and consisted of two studios, A2 and A6. Eventually, a third studio, A5, was added. These studios were active from 1975 to 1981. The studios were redesigned by Ed Germano and his maintenance technician, Frank Comentale. Germano incorporated The Hit Factory into a business and redesigned the logo as it exists to this day. The groundbreaking albums from this location include "Songs In The Key Of Life" by Stevie Wonder, "One Trick Pony" by Paul Simon, "Emotional Rescue" by The Rolling Stones, "Double Fantasy" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

The Hit Factory moved to a new location in 1981 known as The Hit Factory Broadway at 237 West 54th Street. These studios were previously home to the famous Bell Sound Studios. Ed Germano's son, Troy Germano, started working full-time with him at this location.[4] [5] At The Hit Factory Broadway there were a total of five studios: A1, A2, A3, M1 as well as M4 — which was later transformed into the first mastering suite for Herb Powers, Jr. These studios were also designed by Ed Germano & Frank Comentale. Troy Germano closed this location in 2002. Historic albums that were recorded and/or mixed at this location include "Graceland" by Paul Simon, "Born In The USA" by Bruce Springsteen, "Undercover" by The Rolling Stones, "Under A Blood Red Sky" by U2, "The Rhythm Of The Saints" by Paul Simon, "Live/1975-85" by Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, "Whiplash Smile" by Billy Idol, "Steel Wheels" by The Rolling Stones, "Long After Dark" by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, "Agent Provocateur" by Foreigner (band), "Tunnel of Love" by Bruce Springsteen, "Riptide" by Robert Palmer (singer), "Up Your Alley" by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, "Foreign Affair" by Tina Turner, "Forever" by Kool & the Gang, "Hell Freezes Over" by The Eagles, "August" by Eric Clapton, "Talk Is Cheap" by Keith Richards and "Dangerous" by Michael Jackson.

Germano opened another location, The Hit Factory Times Square, at 130 West 42nd Street. Previously known as Chelsea Sound, the studios were redesigned by Ed and Troy Germano. This facility had two recording studios, Studio A and Studio B, as well as three mastering rooms under the moniker The Hit Factory DMS (digital mastering studios). The mastering rooms were for engineers Herb Powers, Jr., Chris Gehringer and Tom Coyne. The Times Square recording & mastering studios existed from 1987 to 1992. Albums of historical importance recorded and/or mixed at this location include Freedom (Neil Young album) by Neil Young, Down with the King (album) by Run-DMC, Don't Sweat the Technique by Eric B. & Rakim, and Storm Front (album) by Billy Joel.

In 1991 Ed Germano acquired a 100,000 square foot building at 421 West 54th Street. It opened in 1993 as simply The Hit Factory.[6] [7] Ed and Troy designed and built this facility in conjunction with David Bell, Derek Buckingham, Alan Cundell & Neil Grant of Harris Grant Associates UK. [8] As the main headquarters for The Hit Factory, the studios expanded to seven recording/mixing studios (Studios 1-7), five mastering studios (The Hit Factory Mastering) and five private writing-production suites, including rooms for Mark Ronson and Kevin Shirley. Studio 1 was built for orchestral recording that could accommodate up to 140 musicians.[5] [9] Troy Germano eventually consolidated the New York City operations in 2002 to only the main headquarters at 421 West 54th Street. Some of the many classic albums recorded and/or mixed at this facility include "HIStory" by Michael Jackson, "Butterfly" by Mariah Carey, "Let's Talk About Love" by Celine Dion, “Dangerously In Love” by Beyonce, “CrazySexyCool” by TLC, “Ray Of Light” by Madonna, “No Strings Attached” by NSYNC, "Falling Into You" by Celine Dion, “Daydream” by Mariah Carey, ”Ready To Die" by The Notorious B.I.G., "The Bodyguard" soundtrack by Whitney Houston, "Titanic" soundtrack with Celine Dion, “Merry Christmas” by Mariah Carey, ”Duets" by Frank Sinatra, "My Life" by Mary J.Blige, “Rhythm Of Love” by Anita Baker, ”Songs" by Luther Vandross, “The Velvet Rope” by Janet Jackson, ”Invincible" by Michael Jackson, "Pop" by U2, Space Jam with Seal, "X&Y" by Coldplay, the broadway cast recording for "Tommy" with Pete Townshend & George Martin, "Music" by Madonna, ”River Of Dreams" by Billy Joel and "Sogno" by Andrea Bocelli.

From 1989 to 1993, the company also operated The Hit Factory London. In 1989, Ed and Troy, in a joint venture with Sony Music UK, took control of CBS Studios on Whitfield Street in Soho, London.[10] They redesigned the facility and reopened at the beginning of 1990 with The Rolling Stones working on their album "Flashpoint". Sade recorded her album "Love Deluxe" in Studio 2 and Alison Moyet recorded her album, “Hoodoo” in Studio 3. The studios were designed by Ed, Troy, and the team from Harris Grant Associates UK (David Bell, Derek Buckingham, Alan Cundell & Neil Grant). This facility had three recording studios: Studio 1, Studio 2, and The Rooftop Studio 3, as well as five mastering rooms and hosted many of the artists from that era from Sony Music's UK labels (primarily Columbia Records & Epic Records). Studio 1 was designed for orchestral recording and could accommodate 100 piece orchestra. The film score for Basic Instinct, by composer Jerry Goldsmith, was recorded here. The Hit Factory London remained through 1993 until the Germano's sold their interests back to Sony Music ending the partnership and retaining the Hit Factory name and trademark.[10] This facility later became Sony's Whitfield Street Studio.[11]

 
Studio 2 in Germano Studios The Hit Factory, New York City

In 1998, Ed & Troy purchased Criteria Recording in Miami, Florida, revamping and reopening the studios under the new name The Hit Factory Criteria Miami. The studios were designed again by Ed, Troy and White Mark Limited UK (David Bell, Alan Cundell & Derek Buckingham). The facility had a total of five recording studios, Studio A, Studio C, Studio D, Studio E & Studio F as well as a completed mastering room utilized as a writing-production room for guest producers/artists. [12] [13] The studio remained until 2012[14] when they were sold as Criteria Recording Studios — again not selling The Hit Factory name or trademark.

The Hit Factory closed in 2005. Contrary to reports in the media that the studios in New York City were shuttered due to the advancement of home digital recording,[15] the building at 421 was sold for estate planning purposes after the passing of Edward Germano in 2003. Troy Germano left the family business that same year to open his own studios in Noho and continued studio designs around the world.

In 2008, Troy Germano, completed Germano Studios New York which was re-branded Germano Studios I The Hit Factory in 2019 and remains the only "The Hit Factory" recording studios to this day anywhere in the world. Troy Germano re-acquired The Hit Factory name, trademark, IP, and brand in late-2018 from his family's estate.

LocationsEdit

The studios occupied several spaces in and around Midtown West and Times Square. Locations included "The Hit Factory Times Square" at 130 West 42nd Street, "The Hit Factory Broadway," at 237 West 54th Street, and the flagship facility "The Hit Factory" at 421 West 54th Street.[16]

  • 353 West 48th Street 1975-1981
  • 237 West 54th Street (The Hit Factory Broadway) 1981-2002
  • 130 West 42nd Street (The Hit Factory Times Square) 1987-1992
  • 421 West 54th Street (The Hit Factory headquarters) 1991-2005
  • 676 Broadway (Germano Studios | The Hit Factory) 2008-present

EquipmentEdit

Over the years the arsenal of equipment at The Hit Factory recording studios in New York & London was legendary.

1975 to 1981: The Hit Factory original facility at 353 West 48th Street was a mixture, consisting of a Neve 8068 32 channel console with Necam 1 moving fader automation, a Custom API 32 input console without automation, an MCI JH-500 36 channel console with MCI automation, and an MCI JH-636 36 channel console with MCI automation. Initially there were a pair of Gonzalez custom analog multi-channel desks. The analog tape machines were Studer A80 24 track 2 inch (wide body) analog recorders, Studer A80 16 track 2 inch (narrow body) analog recorders, Studer A80 2 track 1/4 inch analog recorders and an MCI JH-24 24 track 2 inch analog recorder. The outboard gear was a combination of numerous custom pieces from that period plus Eventide, Neve, Lang, Teletronix, Universal, Pultec, Orban, Kepex, EMT, Fairchild and API. The monitoring was a combination of Westlake, Hidley, Altec, UREI and Auratone. Microphones were Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, Sony, Norelco, Shure, and Electrovoice. Vocals were recorded primarily utilizing either a Neumann U87 or an AKG C414 during this era of recordings at the studios. The studios also had a number of EMT 140 plates, Cooper Time Cubes and Spring reverbs.

1981 to 2002: This period consists of multiple locations, specifically The Hit Factory Broadway at 237 West 54th Street and The Hit Factory Times Square at 130 West 42nd Street. There were a mixture of desks between the locations as the consoles moved between the seven studios. An MCI JH-636 36 channel console with MCI automation in Studio A2 (moved from West 48th Street). A Neve 8068 32 channel console with Necam 1 moving fader automation, then GML moving faders in Studio A1 & Studio A (moved from West 48th Street). A Custom API 32 input console without automation in Studio A3 (moved from West 48th Street). A pair of Solid State Logic 4000 SL48 E Series 48 channel consoles in Studio A1 & A2, a Solid State Logic 4000 SL64 E Series 64 channel console in Studio M1, and a Solid State Logic 6000 SL72 E Series console in Studio M1. A pair of Neve VR 60 channel consoles in Studio A1, A2 & A3, a Neve VR 36 channel console in Studio A3, a Neve VR 72 channel console in Studio A1, a Neve V Series Vatican 60 channel console in Studio A3, a Neve 8068 40 channel console with Necam II moving fader automation, then GML moving faders in Studio A3 & Studio B, and a Neve 8128 28 channel console in Studio A4. The tape machines were Studer A800 24 track 2 inch analog recorders, Studer A820 24 track 2 inch analog recorders, Studer A827 24 track 2 inch analog recorders, Studer A80 2 track 1/2 inch & 1/4 inch 2 track analog recorders, a Studer A810 2 track 1/4 inch analog recorder, a Studer A80 4 track 1/2 inch analog recorder, and Otari MTR-90 24 track analog recorders. The digital machines were Sony 3324A 24 track 1/2 inch digital recorders with Apogee filters, Mitsubishi X880 32 track 1 inch digital recorders, and Mitsubishi X80 & X86 2 track 1/4 inch digital recorders. The outboard gear was a combination of AMS, Quantek, Eventide, Publison, Lexicon, Universal Audio, Teletronix, Tube-Tech, Pultec, GML, SSL, Neve, API, EMT, Apogee, Focusrite, Manley and Avalon. The monitoring was a combination of UREI, Quested, Tannoy, Augspurger, Yamaha, Auratone, Westlake, Genelec, Meyer, Altec, and David's. The microphones collection included Telefunken, Neumann, Sony, B&K, RCA, Schoeps, Beyer Dynamic, AKG, Sennheiser, Norelco, Electrovoice & Shure.

1993 to 2005: These years focus solely on the main headquarters at 421 West 54th Street, just known as The Hit Factory which had seven studios. The consoles consisted of a Neve 8068 72 channel console with Flying Faders in Studio 2 (this was a combination of custom joining of an original Neve 8068 32 and a Neve 8068 40). Also a Neve VR 72 channel console with Flying Faders in Studio 1, a Neve VRSP 72 channel console with Flying Faders in Studio 1, and a Solid State Logic 9000 J Series 9080 80 channel console in Studio 1. A Solid State Logic K Series 9080 80 channel console in Studio 2, a Solid State Logic G+ 4064 64 channel console in Studio 3, and a Solid State Logic J Series 9080 80 channel console in Studio 3. In Studio 4 there was a Solid State Logic 4000 SL96 E Series 96 channel console, followed by a Solid State Logic AXIOM 80 channel digital console in Studio 4, and then a Solid State Logic 9000 J Series 9080 80 channel console. There was a Sony Oxford digital console in Studio 5, followed by a Euphonix System 5 digital console. A Solid State Logic K Series 9080 80 channel console was in Studio 6 and a Solid State Logic K Series 9080 80 channel console was in Studio 7. The analog tape machines were Studer A800 24 track 2 inch analog recorders, Studer A827 24 track 2 inch analog recorders, a Studer A827 16 track 2 inch analog recorder, Studer A820 2 track 1/2 inch analog recorders, and Studer A80 2 track 1/2 inch analog recorders. The digital tape machines were Sony 3348 48 channel 1/2 inch digital recorders, Sony 3348HR 48 channel 1/2 inch digital recorders, Mitsubishi X880 32 track 1 inch digital recorders, Sony PCM-3402 DASH 2 track 1/4 inch digital recorders, and Sony PCM 1630 2 track digital recorders. Digidesign Pro Tools systems were introduced as part of the new hard disk recorders for all of the studios as of 2000. The monitoring systems changed from Boxers to Augspurgers then back to the newest Boxer T5 monitors as well as a selection of Yamaha, Genelec, ProAcs, Auratones, Dynaudio and Mastering Lab for the near field speakers. The outboard gear included AMS, AMS Neve, Lexicon, Eventide, API, Focusrite, SSL, Avalon, Manley, Weiss, Tube-Tech, Pultec, Universal Audio, Teletronix, GML, EMT and Quantek. The microphone collection grew to include Coles, Neumann, Telefunken, Sennheiser, AKG, Schoeps, B&K, Sony, Shure, RCA, Norelco, Beyer Dynamic & Electrovoice.

1989 to 1993: The Hit Factory London was located on Whitfield Street in Soho London. There were three studios and the consoles consisted of a Neve VR 60 channel console in Studio 1 for orchestral recording & mixing, a Neve VR 60 channel console in Studio 2 for overdub recording & mixing and a Solid State Logic 4000 SL56 E Series 56 channel console for band recording & mixing. The analog tape machines were Studer A820 & Studer A827 24 track 2 inch analog recorders and Studer A80 2 track 1/2 inch analog recorders. The digital tape machines included Sony 3348 48 channel 1/2 inch digital recorders, and Sony PCM 1630 2 track digital recorders. The monitoring systems were Boxer's as well as Yamaha, Genelec & Auratone near field speakers. The outboard gear was a large selection of AMS, Neve, SSL, GML, Lexicon, EMT, Pultec, Tube-Tech, Teletronix, Universal Audio, Manley, Eventide, API & Focusrite. The microphone collection consisted of Neumann, Telefunken, Sennheiser, AKG, Sony, Shure, Electrovoice, Beyer Dynamic, Coles, B&K.

2008 to Present day: Germano Studios | The Hit Factory in New York's Noho consists of two studios. The consoles are a pair of Solid State Logic Duality Delta 48 channel consoles for recording and mixing in Studio 1 and Studio 2. Both studios are equipped with Avid Pro Tools PT Ultimate 2020.5 HDX3 64/64 systems with the Apple Cylinder computers and Sonnet expansion racks. There are no longer any tape recorders, analog or digital, available at the studios in 2020. The monitoring systems are custom Exigy S412G monitors with custom dual 18" subwoofers in each of the control rooms. The near field/mid field speakers are Germano Acoustics APS AEON 2 active monitors, ADAM S3 S-Series active monitors, Avantone CLA-10 active monitors, Avantone CLA-10 passive monitors, Yamaha NS-10M Studio passive monitors, Avantone Mix Cube passive & active monitors, KRK Rokit 7 G4 monitors, SONOS monitoring. The outboard gear is an arsenal of selected pieces from Neve, API, Chandler, Retro Instruments, Lavry, Bricasti, AMS, Focusrite, Universal Audio, Tube-Tech, Moog, Heritage Audio, Empirical Labs, Black Lion, SSL, Focusrite. The microphone collection consists of Telefunken, Neumann, Coles, Sennheiser, DPA, Schoeps, AKG, Shure, Mojave, Royer, AEA, Electrovoice, Beyer Dynamic, Avantone & Yamaha.

Associated Producers, Engineers, and MixersEdit

  • Jay Healy (producer, chief engineer)
  • Fabian Marasciullo (mixing engineer)
  • Carl Glanville (recording engineer)
  • Kenta Yonesaka (chief engineer)
  • Jason Staniulis (recording engineer) 
  • Rich Travali (recording engineer)
  • Andy Smith (recording engineer)
  • Carl Nappa (recording engineer)
  • Andy Grassi (recording engineer)
  • John Davenport (recording engineer)
  • Brian McGee (recording engineer)
  • Tony Black (recording engineer)
  • Paul Logus (recording engineer)
  • Ron Banks (recording engineer)
  • Glen Marchese (chief engineer)
  • Paul Falcone (recording engineer)
  • Dave Rowland (recording engineer)
  • Matthew Sim (mixing engineer)
  • Dave Thoenor (chief engineer)
  • Harry Maslin (producer, chief engineer)
  • Bruce Tergesen (chief engineer)
  • Chris Tergesen (chief engineer)
  • Howie Lindeman (recording engineer)
  • Ed Sprigg (chief engineer)
  • Jon Smith (recording engineer)
  • Herb Powers, Jr. (mastering engineer)
  • Chris Gehringer (mastering engineer)
  • Tom Coyne (mastering engineer)
  • Scott Hull (mastering engineer)
  • Dave Kutch (mastering engineer)
  • Joe Yannece (mastering engineer)
  • Carlton Batts (mastering engineer)
  • Jack Skinner (mastering engineer)
  • Dan Wallin (orchestral recording engineer)
  • Kevin Shirley (producer, mixing engineer)
  • Mark Ronson (producer, artist)

RIAA Diamond AwardsEdit

[17]

The Hit Factory was a part of (14) RIAA Diamond Awards, in recognition of sales of 10 million albums sold in the U.S.

  • Stevie Wonder “Songs In The Key Of Life”
  • Bruce Springsteen “Born In The USA”
  • Celine Dion “Falling Into You”
  • TLC “CrazySexyCool”
  • Santana “Supernatural”
  • Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band “Live 1975-‘85”
  • Whitney Houston “The Bodyguard”
  • Billy Joel “Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II”
  • Titanic” soundtrack
  • Meatloaf “Bat Out Of Hell”
  • NSYNC “No Strings Attached”
  • Celine Dion “Lets Talk About Love”
  • Michael Jackson “Bad”
  • Mariah Carey “Daydream”


Contradictory reports about John Lennon's last recording sessionEdit

After the death of John Lennon, on December 8, 1980, public awareness of The Hit Factory increased; Lennon's final album had been recorded at The Hit Factory at 353 West 48th Street. Mourners and music fans around the world read accounts of the murder in newspapers on the days following the shooting, and The Hit Factory was mentioned in some of these publications. However, there are contradictory reports as to whether he was recording at The Hit Factory or the nearby Record Plant the day he was murdered. Most publications cite the Record Plant as the location.[18][19] Witnesses present with John Lennon, such as producer Jack Douglas, cite the Record Plant as the studio where he spent his time recording and mixing tracks the evening of the murder.[19] However, Keith Badman, not an eyewitness, in his book The Beatles: After the Break-up, 1970–2000 states that Lennon had been at The Hit Factory the night of his murder. He also references that Lennon had been at the studio the last several days working on and mixing tracks for Yoko Ono.

Notable recordingsEdit

Albums[20]Edit

ReferenceEdit

  1. ^ Montgomery, James. "Hit Factory Studio, Which Lived Up To Its Name, Is Closing". MTV News. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  2. ^ Robinson, Lisa (April 7, 1988). "The Hit Factory: Where To Get The Top Cut". The New York Post.
  3. ^ "The Hit Factory". Discogs. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  4. ^ Weinstein, Bob (June 6, 1988). "At The Top Of The Charts". NY Daily News.
  5. ^ a b Verna, Paul (May 23, 1998). "At NY's Hit Factory, Success Has Been A Family Affair". Billboard Magazine.
  6. ^ Carpenter, Claudia (March 19, 1993). "Hit Factory Takes on Sony for $9B Pie". NY Post.
  7. ^ Martin, Douglas (December 7, 1992). "In Recording Industry, Harmony is Everything". New York Times.
  8. ^ Daley, Dan (February 1992). "NY Metro Report". Mix Magazine.
  9. ^ Nunziata, Susan (October 31, 1992). "A Look & Listen To New Hit Factory Facilities". Billboard Magazine.
  10. ^ a b Hunter, Nigel (March 10, 1990). "NY's Hit Factory Hits London". Billboard Magazine.
  11. ^ "White Mark Limited - White Mark Clients: Hit Factory". whitemark.com. Archived from the original on 2009-02-02.
  12. ^ "Hit Factory Buys Criteria". Pro Sound News. March 1999. p. 1.
  13. ^ McGee, David (May 2001). "The Best of Both Worlds". Pro Sound News.
  14. ^ RealtyTrac, Real Estate. "1755 Ne 149th St, Miami, FL 33181 - 51651334". RealtyTrac. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  15. ^ "The Sound of Silence at Studio", Daily News
  16. ^ "Hit Factory Mastering". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  17. ^ https://www.riaa.com/gold-platinum/?tab_active=top_tallies&ttt=DA#search_section
  18. ^ "Hit Factory or Record Plant?? - BeatleLinks Fab Forum". Beatlelinks.net. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  19. ^ a b "1980: John Lennon shot dead". BBC News. 1980-12-08. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
  20. ^ "The Hit Factory". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2020-06-12.

External LinksEdit

http://www.thehitfactorystudios.com