After looking at a number of recording studios in New York, I've settled on DeGraw Sound in Gowanus. I visited Harvestworks, the Academy of Arts and Letters, the End in Greenpoint, and Water Music in Hoboken. As we are recording some sounds at the edge of audibility, none of the studios worked out. At Harvestworks, you can hear people walking in the main corridor of the building. At the Academy, you could hear the low hum the elevated train as it passed every 10 minutes, at the End, you could hear traffic and the warehouse workers in the space below, and at Water Music, the street traffic was noticeable in the studio. I considered Oktaven Audio in Yonkers. Thankfully, Ryan Streber was upfront about the noise from the Metro North train which stops two blocks away--he saved me a long trip up to Yonkers. To be clear: a lot of great artists happily record at each of these spaces. Most music is quite a bit louder, and will mask the quiet distant noises. For the On Foot: Brooklyn recording, especially on Jack Callahan's barely-there bottle sounds, there is not enough volume to mask them.
A friend suggested I try the 8-month-old DeGraw Sound in Gowanus run by sound engineer Ben Rice, and designed and built by Dave Ellis. I could not hear a thing in the recording room--no vent, no traffic, no subway, no buzz from the lights. The space is beautiful, and Rice is very easy to work with (returns emails and calls right away, is clear about his abilities and limitations). There is a gorgeous break room with windows overlooking the south of Brooklyn, and the reasonably priced Union Hotel is two doors down.
DeGraw has a wide selection of amps and effects, which makes the electric guitarists happy (they don't have to lug amps on the subway). As the recording equipment will not capture the extremely quiet sounds, I'm VERY happy to bring in Ben Manley with his mobile rig, who did such a careful job on the last CD.