Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93

 Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93

Tom Haban and Mike Konopka built the first Seagrape studio back in 1983. Located at Montrose and Drake on Chicago’s northwest side, the studio was housed in a 1918 era storefront.  The control room featured a Neotek Series I mixing console.  Tom and Mike paired an MCI 2″ 16 track mulitrack recorder with this Neotek. A Macintosh 2205 powered the big JBL studio monitors.

Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93

 

The studio cut loads of dance and house music at that time. Some of these recordings were with guitarist Harvey Mandel, and the famous Hot Mix Five. There was also production work with performance artist Danny Alias.

 

That first Seagrape also cut plenty of rock and metal too. Tracking was completed for artists such as Iron Cross, Eddie Ulm & The Headaches, and even members of Motorhead. And rockabilly was recorded and mixed there with Big Daddy Sun & The Outer Planets.

Additionally, famed Second City  director Del Close cut comedy routines with Warren Leming, & Larry Coven at the first Seagrape. Tom Tom Washington cut horns there too. This was right after his big “No Jacket Required” arrangements for Phil Collins.

Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93

Mike and his former partner Tom Haban made many friends at this early 80’s storefront studio. Mickey Oliver, Mark Springer, Eddy Ulm, Ray Kasper, and Brian Foster. Rick & Mary Stang, Phil Hayes, Dayna Calderon, and our great friend Ron (Big Daddy Sun) Cannon to name just a few.

Forced to close due to broken water pipes and the landlord’s receivership, Haban and Konopka  stored the studio’s equipment at a riverfront loft while a new location was found.

Making House Music at Seagrape Studios, Chicago 1983-1994

 

Mike & Tom broke ground on the new Seagrape Studios in 1986 at 5740 N. Western Avenue. This was on Chicago’s far northside. Konopka worked with architect friend Robert Jones to brainstorm the new design. The General Contractor for the project was Ron Cannon. Ron and Mike worked together on many studio design projects after that.

Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93

The new Seagrape’s large control room featured triple pane glass windows and lead-lined walls along with star point grounding. Tom tracked down a larger Neotek Series II console for the new control room. Mike and studio tech Mark Springer then SMPTE locked MCI 16 and 24 track machines for 40 total analog audio tracks. 

Mike’s variable acoustic panels are also just visible in the control room image behind the drums.

Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93
The Second Seagrape Studio (photo Sigvision)

This very large studio featured a raised drum platform with movable curved walls. The ceiling approached 16 feet in some areas. There was also a roomy vocal booth. Tom Haban cleverly devised the modular reveal ceiling. In addition, the entire complex featured floating floors. As a result, it had the best sound isolation of any studio in Chicago at the time.

Hundreds of well known tracks were cut at Seagrape by artists such as Larry Heard & Fingers Inc, The Pretty Things, and Frankie Knuckles. Also The Hot Mix Five, Lin Halliday, Ashoor Baba, Gherkin Records, and Touch & Go all worked there along with many more. Mike Konopka left Seagrape in 1994 to form Thundertone Audio.

Making House Music at Seagrape Studios, Chicago 1983-1994

Acoustical Design & Consulting-Seagrape Studios 1983-93

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