ATHENS, GA â€” Veteran sound recording engineer Jim Hawkins has realized a 30-year dream of building his own recording facility in Athens, GA. Dubbed Studio 1093, the studio is the result of collaboration with acoustical/architectural firm Russ Berger Design Group (RBDG).
Hawkins has been a part of Georgiaâ€™s music scene for many years. Starting out as a musician who worked with Otis Redding and other greats, he went on to build and operate the first studios for Capricorn Records in Macon. For more than three decades, Hawkins has recorded sound for TV and film (his credits include â€œDrumline,â€? â€œMadeaâ€™s Family Reunionâ€? and the Academy Award-winning short film â€œThe Accountantâ€?). His company, Electro Acoustics Systems, also utilizes a remote truck Hawkins outfitted for recording live music. In 1979, he bought a building he believed would make a good studio. He rented it to bands as rehearsal space and did some â€œgarageâ€? recordings, but had never made the space into a studio.
â€œA lot of my contemporaries are retiring, but since I like what I do, that option was not very attractive to me,â€? Hawkins explains. â€œInstead, I decided it was time to build out the studio. There was a small control room I'd used over the years, and I was just going to block up the overhead door of my storage building and put some treatment in the room, and add on a garage in back to park my remote truck. When Russ [Berger] came to see the space, he had a lot of really good ideas and I decided to abandon my original plans and let RBDG design the whole thing.â€?
Having known Hawkins for some time through Synergetic Audio Conceptsâ€™ educational seminars, Russ Berger, president of RBDG, was familiar with Hawkinsâ€™ work and was able to easily assess his needs and develop a studio design to meet them. â€œJim is a true music and audio guy and has always longed for a no-compromise facility of his own, with an inspiring live room and an accurate control room to work his projects,â€? says Berger. â€œWe all determined that the building had good bones and a great vibe for a purpose-built recording facility.â€?
The new facility features a spacious studio, which houses a Yamaha C5 grand piano and a Hammond B3, a vocal booth, a control room featuring Hawkinsâ€™ collection of vintage recording equipment, and a kitchen. The inspiration for Studio 1093â€™s design came from the building itself. When enclosing the garage door opening, glass blocks were used at the top to create an array that allows natural northern light into the studio.
To a degree, the layout of the existing structure dictated the configuration and orientation of the original control room. The space had to accommodate a restroom and kitchen area, as well as an entry sound lock to the facility. To maximize the usable functional space, RBDG employed a "leaky wall" technique in the rear control room wall to borrow volume by venting low frequencies into the adjacent support spaces.
In the studio, the hard diffuse upper volume of the room forms a loosely coupled space that gives the sonic impression of a much larger space. This same acoustical technique was used in the glass-enclosed vocal booth, with upper volumes reaching to the limits of the 16-foot sound-isolated acoustical cap ceiling.
â€œJust like at Capricorn, I have personally soldered every wire in this place,â€? Hawkins continues. â€œIt's been very gratifying and I'm looking forward to recording some good music and seeing a lot of my old friends. This is a life-long dream come true.â€?
Studio 1093 has already hosted Chuck Level, piano player for the Rolling Stones, for rehearsals as well as a video shoot with musician/singer-songwriter Randall Bramblett.