Every year in June, Mix takes a look at some of the best-designed new recording, mixing, and mastering studios that have opened during the past year. Because many communities are sheltering in place to protect people from the pandemic, some of the usual participants in this annual feature were not able to arrange for their latest projects to be photographed. Here is a collection of wonderful new rooms that were photographed in time, and we hope to showcase many more in upcoming issues.
Dimension 70 Studios, New York City
Built in a turn of the century NYC building that has served as a synagogue, a whiskey still and an artist’s studio, the Dimension 70 project presented Francis Manzella of FM Design with unique challenges, including structural rehabilitation, the installation of a completely new mezzanine level, and the desire to maintain as much of the personality of the building as possible. FM Design created a distinctive design for owner Fern Souza, integrating the original stained-glass windows and tall ceilings for the structurally floating main studio rooms.
“The side-by-side studio/control room layout is a one-of-a-kind solution for this very rare space,” Manzella says. “We used a ‘railroad’ solution because the building is long and narrow—like railroad tracks. There isn’t room for circulation hallways to move past the control room, so you need to pass through the control room to get into the live room.”
Featured equipment in the facility includes a 32-channel API 1608-II console, Griffin G1.5 monitors, Pro Tools HD, an 1891 Steinway Model I upright piano, 1957 original Neumann U47, and a great collection of additional instruments, microphones and outboard gear.
“Our studio was built to accommodate a variety of different project types—full live band tracking, basic overdubs, songwriting and composition, production/beat making, mixing, as well as intimate live events and performances,” Souza says. “Of course we were focused on having the acoustics and the tech side be up to par with the best in the industry, but I love that we never had to compromise on the aesthetic and vibe of the space in order to get there—something that I believe is hard to cultivate and was very important to both of us throughout the process. The space mural was originally his idea!”
Booker T. Washington High School, Dallas, Texas
Russ Berger of RBDG provided architectural and studio design services for this facility at Booker T. Washington High School, an acclaimed arts magnet school in Dallas. Famed alumni of the school include Norah Jones, Erykah Badu, Roy Hargrove, and Edie Brickell. The project included a new control room, studio and classroom where students learn about recording technology, and produce audition submissions and capstone projects. The suite is also used to capture audio and video recordings of student performances from multiple on-campus venues. Equipment—including an SSL AWS 924 console, Pro Tools HDX Core, and Genelec 8341AP monitors—was installed by Jason Levert/Digital Resources.
Wes Lachot Design Group
Pulp Arts, Gainesville, Fla.
This multiroom facility was designed from the ground up by Wes Lachot Design Group. Both control rooms are built to Reflection Free Zone specifications and have excellent frequency response and even decay times throughout the frequency spectrum. The large tracking room features the recently patented Hexaffusor clouds, developed by Lachot and Dr. Peter D’Antonio.
Acoustical construction was done by Brett Acoustics, and technical wiring was by Canova Audio. Major equipment at Pulp Arts includes Daking and API consoles, ATC monitoring systems, Pro Tools workstations, Lynx Aurora converters, a Steinway grand piano and a wide array of outboard gear.
Casa Blanco, Atlanta, Ga.
Haverstick Designs was hired to create a new home studio for Crowder, a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Atlanta, Ga. The 400-square-foot control room features a stretch-fabric system by Simplified Acoustics, which handled all of the interior acoustical treatment installation and lighting. Custom perforated acoustical panels that are backlit with color-changing LEDs help to set the mood in the studio, along with a unique rear wall bass trap that utilizes modern artwork covered with a clear quadratic residue diffuser. Additional design and curation services were provided by Tonic Design Co., including a custom mix desk and acoustical panels built by buildhouse, and synth wall unit built by Adam Hart.
Head engineer for Reach Records, Jacob “Biz” Morris, coordinated all aspects of the studio design and gear selection and procurement through IsRael Foster at Sweetwater. The studio is equipped with Focal Trio11 Be speakers, a Toft ATB 24-channel mixer, Tascam ML-16D/ML-32D I/O Dante interfaces and 8P Dyna mic pre’s, Universal Audio Apollo x16 interface, and more.
Steven Durr Designs
Soultrain Sound Studio, Nashville
Soultrain was a unique and challenging project, as it included the redesign of the iconic Scruggs Sound studio in Berry Hill. Owner Johnny Reid kept as much of the original footprint as possible, as he prefers to record with all of the players in the same room, playing off each other. However, the facility has a new modern interior design and custom DMX lighting. The tracking room, iso booth and control room have clear sight lines, while equipment upgrades brought the studio up to the state of the art.
The studio is equipped with an SSL 4000E console fitted with a THD Labs Tangerine computer system and Atomic Power Supplies; PMC MB3 monitors; outboard gear from Coil, Neve, Undertone, Burl and others; a great collection of new and vintage mics; and two EMT plate reverbs: a 250 and a 140 originally owned by the Record Plant, NYC.
Sonic Saturation, Dallas/Fort Worth Area
Jeff Hedback of HdAcoustics designed this private-use production/mix studio set within a dedicated 1,100-square-foot outbuilding on owner Lynn Olson’s property. The main room and adjoining amp booth are designed to accommodate multiple functions fluidly, from writing and capturing music to mixing and mastering.
Cedar wood-finished slat absorbers and high-end custom front wall acoustics control early and boundary reflections at the mix position and give spectrally balanced energy return in the instrument areas. Olson’s studio is equipped with Pro Tools HDX, Dynaudio Core 59 monitors, an Avid S3 control surface, UAD Octo Card, and a large collection of outboard gear and instruments.
Carl Tatz Design
O’Connor Mixroom, Olympia, Wash.
Carl Tatz out of Nashville designed this PhantomFocus MixRoom studio for John O’Connor. Incorporated in the new facility are Tatz’s proprietary PFM UHD-1000 monitors, bi-amped with a 4-channel ATI 4000 amplifier and two PFM ICE Cube-12 Subwoofers. Other equipment includes an Argosy Dual 15K-800 Carl Tatz Edition workstation and Tatz’s signature acoustic modules manufactured by Auralex. O’Connor’s entire family uses the studio like a sort of Pacific Northwest Von Trapp family, where everyone is a musician and engineer.
Malvicino Design Group
Paradise Island Studio, Nukutepipi, French Polynesia
Part of a remote island chain in French Polynesia, Nukutepipi is home to Cirque du Soleil creator Guy Laliberté’s private refuge, including this personal studio. The facility is equipped with an Avid S6 console; Neve, API, SSL, UA, and Shadow Hills outboard gear; ATC monitors, and an Aviom headphone system, to go with an extensive collection of analog synthesizers.
In addition to the studio itself, artists are able to record from all built areas on the island—including a 50-foot-tall observation tower—which are all connected to the studio control room via Dante. The design team overcame many unique challenges due to the remoteness of the location, and essentially set up the entire studio in the United States to ensure everything that would be needed on the island was accounted for before shipping all materials.
The team consisted of Guy Laliberté and his Technology Advisor, Steve Cloutier; Eric Lynn of Infinite Studio Solutions; Horacio Malvicino and Fabiola Mena of Malvicino Design Group; and Architect Richard Dulude. Equipment was provided by Stephen Bannister of Westlake Pro. After the studio’s completion in August 2019, the first artist to write and record in the new space was U2’s Bono.
Kingland Systems, Clear Lake, Iowa
Christian film and music producer David Kingland contracted with Russ Berger of RBDG to design this audio and video production facility as an expansion of his existing headquarters. Geared for in-house and outside projects, the recording studio portion of the project includes a control room, live room and two iso booths. Kingland’s equipment includes an SSL AWS 948 console, Ocean Way 5.1 monitor system, and an impressive array of instruments, outboard equipment, mics and amps.
Pilchner Schoustal International
Boost Knob Studios, Seoul, South Korea
Pilchner Schoustal International designed this new mix/mastering studio for Park Gyeong-sun, a notable engineer/producer in the South Korean music scene. The studio is built in a new commercial development, and the suite incorporates a control room, machine room, lounge and client amenities.
Featured equipment includes ATC SCM150 ASL Pro main monitors, an adaptable Sterling modular workstation and a variety of outboard gear suited to his production workflow. The control room features controlled reflection geometry, composite low-frequency damping and diffusive elements.
Delta H Design
KB Studio, Vancouver, Wash.
On the banks of the Columbia River, KB Studios is set in an opulent natural environment, a perfect setting to nurture the creative process of making music. Owner Kiel Bishop focuses on mastering and mixing, and the facility is enhanced with ZR Acoustics’ Einstein quantum technology dressed in Visual Acoustics. NekroXIIIs’ artistic imagery transforms ultra-thin ZR devices into vibrant, striking works of art. Featured equipment at KB Studios includes Avid Pro Tools HDX, Universal Audio Apollo Twin, ATC SCM45A Pro monitors, Grace Designs M-905 monitor controller, Burl Vancouver summing mixer, and a variety of microphones and instruments.
Walters-Storyk Design Group
Boiler Room, Chicago, Ill.
Studio owner Collin Jordan’s Boiler Room facility was designed by the Walters-Storyk Design Group and installed in a 100-year-old, three-story brick building that Jordan owns in Chicago’s Wicker Park District, a center for music and nightlife. Joshua Morris, WSDG COO/Project Manager says, “The building’s ground floor was a virtual sound lock: 11-foot ceilings, and a solid slab floor made it unnecessary to float the room.”
Jordan’s equipment includes a Magix Sequoia workstation, Mike Spitz-modified Ampex ATR-102 tape machine, Crane Song converters, and the Dunlavy SC-IVa speakers that Jordan moved over from his previous studio. Jordan reports that the new studio gives his monitors “a remarkably enhanced level of clarity, and resonance; the phase coherency and frequency balance creates a 3-dimensional space where the sound is present in the room in an almost physical sense.”
Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, Brooklyn, New York
For this complex multi-studio project, New York University contracted with Francis Manzella of FM Design. Manzella accommodated ceiling height in the four main live rooms and one of the immersive control rooms by breaking through the floor slab above to provide double-height spaces; double-height exterior windows let natural light into all of the studios. The dense technical program required heavy sound isolation construction, while accommodating ADA requirements and working within the limitations of the existing building.
Major equipment in the new rooms includes ATC, JBL and Genelec monitors, to go with a PMC immersive system; Pro Tools HD, Logic and Ableton workstations; and consoles from SSL, API and Neve. A legendary Neve 8068, as well as other equipment and studio furniture, were provided through an endowment from the late Adam Yauch’s (Beastie Boys) Oscilloscope Studios, made possible by Dechen and Losel Yauch.
Sol Studios, Fort Smith, Ark.
Studio Designer: Professional Audio Design
Sol Studios was originally constructed in the ’80s. Owners Grant Thomas and Anton Rasmussen took over the studio and contracted with Dave Malekpour of Professional Audio Design to gut the existing rooms and redesign them with state-of-the-art acoustics, equipment, and lush interiors. The re-imagined space has two iso booths, a 700-square-foot live tracking room, 400-square-foot control room and a private lounge. Acoustical treatments include Jocavi panels adorned with Indian tapestries and hand-carved wood. The facility is equipped with an API 3208 console, Augspurger Duo15 monitoring, and a Pro Tools HDX system.
Malvicino Design Group
Invite Only Studios, New York CityHoracio Malvicino and Fabiola Mena of the Malvicino Design Group designed this project for producer/engineer Angelo “Doc” Velasquez and engineer Pat Kelly. Located in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, this three-room facility provides 5.1 monitoring in the two large control rooms, as well as a sound stage with cyclorama. Inaki Prades Cardenas, director of installations for MDG, was in charge of the system integration and installation. Equipment includes SSL Duality, SSL AWS 948 Delta, and Slate Raven consoles, Ocean Way HR 3.5 (LCR) and HR 4 surround monitoring, and outboard gear from UA, Bricasti, Lexicon, and API.
Michael Romanowski, Bob Hodas, Bob Levy
Coast Recording, Berkeley, Calif.
Longtime mastering engineer Michael Romanowski worked with acoustical consultant Bob Hodas and studio design and build consultant Bob Levy to create the latest incarnation of Romanowski’s Coast Mastering facility. The main room was designed for stereo and immersive mastering, including Dolby ATMOS, accommodating channels up to 9.1.6. Featured equipment includes an SPL DMC mastering console, Focal Scala Utopia EM and Focal Utopia Diablo Evo speakers, Meyer Subwoofer, Bricasti amps and converters, and choice gear that Romanowski has collected over his 25 years of mastering.
Steven Durr Designs
The Backyard, Nashville
Steven Durr Designs created this studio for musician and former Major League Baseball pitcher Barry Zito, with an eye toward the owner’s comfort and expectations, and the idea that a recording studio should be a place you never want to leave. The Backyard studio creates a visual world that harkens back to the 1970s, yet features the latest technology. The architectural design features a stone iso booth and a custom ellipse-inspired cloud for monitoring accuracy. The Backyard is designed for one to two people to work comfortably and feel unpressured in a warm, ergonomically correct working environment.
Zito’s equipment includes a Sound Construction workstation, PMC twotwo 8 monitors, UAD and Aphex mic pre’s, Roland SVC 350 vocoder, Yamaha C-7 piano, Oberheim OB-XA, and plenty of electronic and acoustic musical instruments.
Walters-Storyk Design Group
Studio 21A, Beijing, China
Engineer/producer TC Zhou engaged WSDG to design his new studio complex in Beijing, China. WSDG Art Director Silvia Molho and Director of Design Renato Cipriano developed studio concepts, designs and plans, which included precisely tuned, perforated wooden frequency absorber panels in the front of Zhou’s mastering room. The floors, walls and ceilings of all the rooms in the complex are completely floated, and a third layer of filled concrete block was set on the perimeter of Vocal Booth C and the live room to permit independent work in all four rooms simultaneously.
Studio 21A equipment includes a 72-channel vintage Neve 88RS analog console and Augspurger monitoring in Studio A, an SSL Duality Delta board, Pro Tools HD Native system, ReflexionArts RA239 main monitors in Studio B, and much more.
David Frangioni, Frangioni Media
Boogie Live Studio at Irie Rhythms, Academy Podcast and Radio Station,, Miami, Fla.
This podcast facility was designed to be controllable from the studio or control room, so that programming can be presented by a team, or by one person who doubles as talent and technician. Collaborating with designer David Frangioni were acoustician Jeff Hedback, wiring/integration specialists Myron Surger and Philip Zanon, and carpenter Kike Moreno. Frangioni’s client DJ Irie says, “Frangioni hit it out of the park with this studio. The fact that it sounds great and works every time, around the clock, says it all.” Featured equipment includes two Wheatstone consoles, Genelec speakers, Auralex acoustic treatment, and Frangioni’s custombuilt wall and ceiling acoustic treatments.