Studio design

This is a picture looking across the circle of the ‘Spanish Village’ in the Rainbow where I lived and worked in 1971-72.

we used to sit in the villas at tables we had brought up there when we had a night off and watch bands. The Who, the Byrds, Frank Zappa, Curtis Mayfield, Yes, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Pink Floyd all played two or three concerts in turn, launching Europe’s first permanent Rock venue, put together by the crew from the Fillmore East including ex NASA techs, and us, the redundant crew from the first big Glastonbury festival. But that’s another story.

I started working on acoustic designs in 1971 at the Rainbow, Finsbury Park.

The building was designed originally for music hall unamplified performances and so had a considerable natural acoustic reverb of 2.9 seconds. This made amplified music almost unintelligible.

We built a machine to manufacture folded acoustic panels of the correct wavelength to absorb the troublesome frequencies and placed these panels under material at strategic surfaces all over the stalls and circle – the result was astounding. From being a noisy 3,500 seater box the sound was controlled and became – quite good, really.

Since then I have designed and helped to build about 20 sound studios. Four of these have been for my own use, and the rest for commercial ventures in the UK, Sweden, USA and Australia.

The principles haven’t changed much over the years, but the materials have and so has the style required. Gone are the days of maximum damping, dead spaces, ultra-heavy bass traps. While there is still a need to have some dead areas in a studio complex, varieties of live areas are also very useful, especially since the trend has been increasingly to realism in many genres.

And in a listening space it’s important to consider who will be the dominant listening public, and where and on what and where will they hear your music?

TV – MP3 – CD –Theatre – game consol?

In the car – on a train – in a club – these are all factors to be taken into consideration when designing an acoustic working space for recording or mixing.

Everybody has different needs in this respect and I’m happy to listen to yours if were going to get the job right for your special needs.

that is one of the benefits of a modular sound booth, we can tailor parts of the space to have different acoustic properties to suit different voices and instruments – and we can change the layout really easily.

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