Mix Regional News: Canada


Construction at Blue Light Studio


After four-and-a-half years of making music at 650 Industrial Avenue in Vancouver, Blue Light Studio has done what every studio owner dreams of and dreads at the same time: torn it all down in the name building a bigger and better facility. Blue Light’s new 2,400-square-foot multiroom facility remains in Vancouver, just in a different part—in the musically inclined Commercial Drive community—and offers two main recording rooms, several production suites, with plans of adding rehearsal rooms. The Toft ATB 24 console remains at the heart of the facility.

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The studio currently has one room set up at the new location, where they are continuing to record while finishing the rest of the studio build. 

“Studio design and building is something we find very fascinating, so the opportunity to design and build a new space that was bigger was too good to pass up—especially when you add the desire to have no immediate neighbors,” says Kaj Falch-Nielsen, chief engineer/studio owner. “Our building now is a stand-alone rather than a shared building.”

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Researchers from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (CIRMMT), housed at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, Montreal, received more than $4 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and a total of $10.9 million, which includes matching funds from the Quebec Government and McGill University. The funds will be used to create a unique interconnected research hub linking two exceptional spaces: McGill’s Multimedia Room and Université de Montréal’s Salle Claude Champagne.

The Multimedia Room at the Schulich School of Music is a 7,000 cubic-meter, sound-isolated box-inside-a-box that can simulate the acoustics of just about any performance venue in the world. The Salle Claude Champagne at the Faculté de Musique at the Université de Montréal is an iconic concert hall in Quebec. New funding will transform these two spaces into a facility for studying live performance, movement of sound in space and distributed performance in which members of an ensemble are geographically separated, but performing simultaneously.

Researchers from CIRMMT will help develop virtual acoustics to simulate concert environments and other technologies for audio recording, film, television, distance education and multimedia artworks, while neuroscientists and psychologists will be able to study the ways in which large numbers of performers coordinate their actions, as well as the factors that lead listeners to perceive the sounds of different instruments as blended or distinct in orchestral works. Applications include the reduction and prevention of injuries among professional musicians, improved hearing aids, improvements to the quality of recorded music and live performance, and science-based music therapy.

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of Studios Piccolo. The Montreal-based studio started as a demo and pre-production basement studio in a private home in the east end of Montreal. At that time, it catered to artists who needed a space to rehearse and record demos to prepare for their albums and concerts. Activity was mostly dedicated to projects by one of the studio’s owners, bassist François Messier.

“In the beginning, the legendary Sony TC630 was the main piece of equipment,” says René Aubé, who has been the studio’s manager for 25 years, and who also hung around the studio when he was a musician before then. “The ‘Sound on Sound’ feature of the Sony TC630 permitted limited bouncing from one track onto the other, adding overdub and background noise layers to the recordings. A Shure 4-in, 1-out mono mixer with no tone control was the console.”

Then the studio moved to Dominique Messier’s (another one of the studio’s owners) private home. “We built a more soundproof environment—once again a basement studio—and bought a Studer 24-track and a Trident 24 console,” Aubé says. The studio was ready to start taking on pro projects. Québec artist Daniel Bélanger’s first hit album was made here, among many others.

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After nine years, Studios Piccolo moved again, this time to its current location. Among other features, the studio has a 40x60x16-foot recording room, high wooden ceilings, and a Steinway 9-foot grand piano. Studio A houses a 48-channel SSL Duality and 16-channel Neve 1073, and Studio B (for mixing) has Avid ICON D-command and Barefoot MiniMain 12 and Dynaudio Air20 5.1 monitors.

Co-owner/FOH mixer/sound designer Denis Savage joined the journey in the late ’90s, and Studios Piccolo took off by leaps and bounds, recording  hundreds of albums and film and TV soundtracks.

Now, Studios Piccolo has four studios with recording/mixing capabilities, one mobile truck, one mastering studio (The Lab Montreal), and one archiving studio. A big anniversary celebration will take place later this year.