Digital Recording at Ocean Way

Ocean Way Studio
1200 17th Avenue South
"Jonell Polansky has produced Nashville's first 24-bit 48-track digital recording session at Ocean Way. The four-song project with artist Brian Eckert utilized the studio's Sony Oxford digital console in conjunction with the new Sony 3348-HR-Plus 24-bit recorder in 24-bit mode. She says not only was it the first recording session of its kind in Nashville, but one of the first of its kind in the world... mixed via a TC Electronic Finalizer Plus in 24-bit mode to a Sony PCM 9000 24-bit 2-track. Editing was on a Pro Tools system, also 24-bit, and mastering was done using an HDCD Model One encoder."

"In Italian, the musical term Da Capo literally means "from the head", and a quick glance at producer Jonell Polansky's resume leaves no doubt that she has a good one of those on her shoulders. You'll find a Master's Degree from Caltech in electrical engineering, stints at IBM and TRW doing, among other things, "advanced signal analysis and modeling," and a clutch of academic papers and talks to her credit. And in her five years in Nashville, the technical side of recording is where Polansky has made her initial mark, recently getting attention for completing the first 24-bit digital recording made in Nashville, a demo for singer Brian Eckert. Sony had just come out with a 24-bit tape recorder, and she had access to the all digital, 48-track studio at Ocean Way. "We wanted to see sonically if there was any improvement in increasing the bit rate and not altering the sampling rate," she says. "The question was: which benefits you more?" The jury is still out, she says, on that particular question, but she sees avenues in the 24-bit environment toward more specific tailoring of each individual track, and she's set on continuing research in this area. Of course there are two sides to every brain, and Polansky isn't stuck in her left hemisphere. For one thing, she has extensive background as a player (her homey office is decorated with a collection of magnificent electric basses). And she feels she has a knack for spotting promising artists and choice songs. She works with just a handful of artists at a time and strives to take them on a journey of self-discovery. Her approach involves a highly devloped personal relationship with her artists. She strives, she says, "to get in their head and to love them and empower them, so that they can get what they want." She grew up all over as a Navy kid and played folk and bluegrass guitar, but it was in Northern California where she got her engineering training. Classes with engineer Doug Hopping melded with her scientific background, her college major in technical theatre, and even some of the lessons she
Jonell Polansky
from Da Capo Music
learned as a rock climber in California, to forge a holistic approach to production and artist development. When she acted on her long-standing dream of moving to Nashville, she left engineering behind for a time, while she networked with publishers and artists and figured out what her niche would be. As time passed, however, engineering became an increasingly important part of her production tools. You can hear it on some demos she's just finished for a progressive folk-rock duo called A Stump Full of Grandaddies. The arrangement is edgy and full, but the vocals leap out of the mix, as if they were coming out of their own set of speakers. And it was done in her very own digital studio, on one of the few new Tascam D8000's on the Row. "I'm never going to make 35 records a year," she says of her patient, artist-centric approach. "For me the joy is really creating a vision of somebody's vocal and musical identity. To me, it's a relationship that develops. Some of my clients I've been working with for four years. It takes that long to distill everything down and let the artist find out who they really are, what their music is." (quotes from Da Capo Music press release (1998)

revised 9/1/01 by Schoenherr | Music Row | Recording Technology History