Recreational Listening: 10 Classic Songs That Sound Reborn at BB4


When we’re recording, mixing and mastering a song at BB4, we often find the best thing to do is kick back and listen to one – or maybe a dozen. To catch a groove or capture some intensity, catching a dose of inspiration from the classics is irreplaceable.

Our favorite songs take on new meaning here in our studio. We built our mixing/master control room from the ground up to have uncommon clarity, but we’ll admit that even we weren’t prepared for what critical listening would be like in this space: It’s as accurate as it is musical, and what it lays on your ear is magical. That’s thanks to the PMC speakers, ADAM subs, and incredible attention to detail when we designed the system and in the room that it’s in.   

Cue up your beloved tracks here, and we guarantee that there are details, moods and emotions that you’ll experience for the first time ever. Hearing these nuances is like discovering a new room in the house that you occupied for years. It’s kind of a mind blow.

We put together a Top 10 for recreational listening at BB4 (it could easily have been 100!). And remember, any time you want to hear these beauties for yourself, or feel like attending to your personal list of guilty pleasures, just let us know – our door is open.

Rafael Planten, Founder

Papa was a Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations– I was blown away by this song the first time I heard it at BB4. When you hear the clarity of the voices and how they were layered, you get a whole new appreciation for the care that they used to assemble this song at Motown. And the bass takes on a whole new dimension. All you can say is OMG.

Song for My Father” by Horace Silver – When I heard “Song for My Father” on our system I did a double take. This was recorded by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder in New Jersey, in 1964. The way the horns reach out and just push in this song is hard to put into words. When that horn section is going together with the percussion, you can feel it come right out at you and wrap around you – you feel it in your body as much as what you’re hearing.  

Never the Machine Forever” by Soundgarden -- this is the 10th track from their 1996 album Down on the Upside. This is a heavy, bass-driven song. The clarity in BB4’s studio puts even more weight behind it, and drives the force that comes out at you. I was listening to this here with David Lloyd from Beyond the Beyond, and we were both like, “Holy sh*t!” when we heard it. We threw it on during a session to get a change of pace, and we both thought we knew the song really well, but there was a lot more to discover. It sounds unbelievable here, just a funnel of bass.

One” by U2 -- I never noticed the nuance of that guitar note, and the phrase that happens, before. You feel like you can touch the song, feel the waves, as the undulations go up and down. You can really picture The Edge playing. It’s something simple, but when I hear “One” in this room, so much comes out of this song. They just got it.

Prayer (Oh, Doctor Jesus)” by Miles Davis -- This is from the Porgy & Bess soundtrack, and it’s so beautiful every time you hear it. It’s like a painting that becomes 3D virtual reality as you listen, and whatever scene you get from listening to the song becomes interactive – you’re actually in the environment, like a rainy night in another town. “Prayer” makes me see the streets from the ‘60s and ‘70s, even though that’s before I was born, the way it comes out of the speakers portrays this timeline of different eras.

Kiara Mudd, Studio Manager/Engineer

Take Five” by Dave Brubeck -- When you’re listening to that song in here, it sounds like a personal live recording made just for you. With the way it’s spread out, you can just feel the band surrounding you: The drummer’s on the left, the bassist’s on the right, and the saxophone is square in the middle. I love how the sax sounds in here, it’s so clear and upfront.

The Shadow of Your Smile” by the Paul Horn Quintet – This version of “The Shadow of Your Smile” is from the movie Sandpiper with Elizabeth Taylor. It’s another song where the spread of the instruments becomes really present on this system. I especially love how the vocals of this song sound at BB4 – when you listen to this song on other systems, the way the vocals are stacked not as apparent as they are here.

Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson -- the way you hear the processing on this song, the reverbs and delays, is different than how you would hear it in your headphones or other speakers. Those things are apparent no matter where you’re listening, but here at BB4 it just feels like it’s in a totally different space. For example, the vocals sound more wet than when I hear it on a normal system.

Hey Jude” by The Beatles -- I like a lot of Beatles songs at BB4, but I feel like “Hey Jude” displays the most apparent differences from other systems that I’ve heard. Especially when you get to that final chorus, “Nananana!” it sounds so huge.

Sweetest Taboo” by Sade -- this song in general is very smooth, but especially her vocals. When I’m listening on the BB4 system, I notice that the placement of the instruments is very different from when I’ve heard it in headphones and speakers elsewhere. It’s just a great song, and here it sounds like it’s full of life.


David Weiss