Egan Media Productions, a new three-room audio/video complex in Colchester, Vt., is “about 30 miles from the geographical center of nowhere,” says owner Joe Egan. “In a dense market, diversity can kill a company — you find you’re a jack of all trades and a master of none — but in an area like this, we can’t just do music.”
Egan has had an audio business in the upper reaches of Vermont for a decade, doing music recording and radio production out of a 600-square-foot extension of his home; it seemed luxurious after his previous studio, which was in the back room of a men’s big-and-tall store. But, eventually, Egan’s business outgrew his home space.
“My friend Scott Esmond and I were riding the train down to AES in ’97, and we hatched this scheme,” Egan recalls. “He’d been an editor at Vermont Public Television since 1987. We thought, if we could have a studio where we could do really good work, a really client-oriented facility, if we build it, they will come…”
Egan purchased a large space in a turn-of-the-century army barracks building in the middle of what he calls a mini “media mecca.” “Some space upstairs is leased to a guy named Shaun Varney, who is the sound designer for a Star Trek series,” Egan says. “Across the street from us is Vermont Public Radio, and also in the fort are Vermont Public Television, another recording studio and four FM radio stations.”
Egan hired architect John Rooney of Scott and Partners Assoc., and renowned studio designer Francis Manzella to design the studio.
“What was intriguing about the site was there was an out-building that was attached,” Manzella says. “It was tall, with a pitched ceiling, and there was already a deep penetration from the out-building to the main building. I think everybody looked at it and envisioned a live room connected to a control room in the main building. We ended up placing about half the control room in the main building and about half of it in the larger auxiliary building, then surrounded the front part of the control room with a good-sized live room and recording booth.”
Also in the main building are Esmond’s video production suite and a smaller audio room, for voice-over work, Pro Tools recording/editing, etc. “The B room and the video production suite were built to be the engine that drives the A room,” Egan explains.
Egan, the designers and general contractor Tom Freiheit developed design solutions that made sense. “For us, the challenges were to design a high-end facility with very good isolation and superior acoustic performance on a limited budget,” Manzella says. “We came up with a series of smart compromises to float these rooms. Instead of doing expensive, jack-up concrete floors, we did a poured-in-place-on-a-form concrete floor with affordable isolators from Kinetics.
“In the other studios, the ceiling height was limited so we did not do floating-construction, but we did heavy double-wall construction and good ceiling construction, while maintaining reasonable ceiling height,” he continues.
Studio A is centered around a D&R Cinemix console. “I really wanted a surround console,” Egan explains, “and I’ve played around with enough digital consoles to know I want a knob for every EQ, a single fader for every channel. The Cinemix is a digitally controlled analog console; all the routing takes place in the center section, so instead of having 24 bus buttons on the top of each channel, you select a channel and then do any routing from the center.
“It’s got dynamics on the first 24 channels, and it’s got moving faders, both upper and lower. It’s got a stems module for doing film premixing. It’s a comprehensive console, and it also happens to be great for doing music.”
Monitoring in the main control room is via two Tannoy System 12s (stereo) and five Dynaudio BM15As (surround), augmented by two Dynaudio BX30 subs. “When I’m doing stereo work, I treat the subs as the lowest portion of a three-way speaker,” Egan explains. “They’re crossed over with the left/right BM15As, and then for doing surround, I can switch it so that the subs are not in stereo anymore; they’re acting as a true sub, and all five satellites are getting full bandwidth.”
Egan Media Productions’ projects have included local TV spots for STX Lacrosse sticks and Nike Hockey skates, voice-over for General Dynamics’ armament division, as well as music recording of local rock bands, big bands, singer/songwriters and more.
“What we’re trying to do is take Scott’s experience doing long-form documentary film production and mine with music and radio production, and integrate those. If a producer can walk into the studio with a handful of Beta tapes and edit the video, record the music, do ADR, do sound design and mix it in surround, all of a sudden we’re a one-stop shop.”