HOPATCONG Nestled in a quaint northern New Jersey town on the shores of beautiful Lake Hopatcong is The Barber Shop Studios, the vision of Scott Barber and Mark Salamone. Located in a stone church built in 1911, the studios feature state-of-the-art equipment in elegantly decorated recording, production and post-production suites, providing an atmosphere unmatched in the industry. The seeds for the studios were initially sown two decades ago when Salamone, a college student and touring musician, approached his friend Barber, a manager and technician in an automatic test equipment company, with the idea of opening up their own studio. A musician and songwriter himself, Barber was intrigued by the idea, but believed the venture was too risky at the time. The two began playing and writing songs together, but talk of opening their own studio continued until they were both in a position professionally to pursue their dream of operating a one-of-a-kind, world-class studio. "Twenty years ago, Mark and I looked at the idea of building a studio and realized that it just wasn't the right timing," Barber stated. "Today, with the success each of us has had n Mark as director of sales for a leading professional audio company, and me as a former owner of a profitable engineering company n we are fully prepared to offer a solution to the artist or producer who wants to work with high-end equipment in a unique environment that blends sophistication and comfort with a modern cutting-edge facility. Top recording engineers and Grammy Award Winners have visited our facility and have already reserved time in our studios to work on future jobs." Fran Manzella, one of the top five acoustic design engineers in the world, supervised the acoustic design of the studio, while the electronic design brings together the best of old and new recording technologies. The studio, centered around a 72-channel SSL XL 9000 K, offers a collection of vintage microphones, outboard gear and instruments, along with up-to-date digital equipment and tools. In addition, the studio features full service analog and digital recording and post-production, including 5.1 and 7.1 digital recording, editing, mixing and mastering services. "When we started looking for the location of our studio, we had very specific demands," Salamone said. "This facility's history and lakefront location were immediately intriguing. Through the years, the building has been home to a variety of different residents, from congregations, to disco dancers, and screaming rock fans. We were excited to add our own story to its history. Fran did an amazing job bringing our vision to life." In its nearly 100 years of existence, the old stone church has undergone many reincarnations. The facility served as the town's church until the 1970s, when the local congregation outgrew its size. It was then turned into a dinner theater, playing host to such acts as Rodney Dangerfield and other national entertainers. After the dinner theater closed, the building was transformed into the Lighthouse Disco, which became a destination for the Ramones, Cheap Trick and Twisted Sister, among other high-profile bands. Once the disco closed, the site remained unoccupied until Barber and Salamone stumbled upon it. The building's interior has been gutted from top to bottom, with the exception of two original stained glass windows overlooking the town. Another unique aspect of The Barber Shop Studios is the availability of in-house production. Through its production company, Waffle Makers, The Barber Shop provides artistic and creative development, audio and video production, and product promotion. "Along with offering artists a first-rate recording facility, we're presenting a turnkey solution to meet all the artists' needs," Barber mentioned. "Now the artist can record, shoot a music video and have a making of the record' DVD shot all under one roof."