Studios large and small
1,2) Fig Tree studio, in Barcelona, completed in 2010, was only the second studio in Spain to be certified as Dolby Premier. It was co-designed with Eliana Valdigem. The mixing console is a Euphonix System 5 Fusion, with 32 channels, which is augmented by a 16 channel Neve side-car. The optical and digital projectors are Sondor and Panasonic, respectively, and the behind-the-screen loudspeaker systems are from Reflexion Arts. The McCauley drivers in the LFE (low-frequency effects) loudspeakers respond down to 16 Hz.
3) The racks which can be seen in the photograph of the projection room house the mixing console electronics and the amplifiers for the surround loudspeakers (one per loudspeaker). In the background are the filters, fans and heat exchangers for the ventilation and temperature control systems. All of the associated compressors and inverters also had to be mounted inside the building, whose external appearance could not be changed as it was historically protected.
4) Loudness Films, in Lisbon, Portugal, opened in early 2011. It was based on the design of Fig Tree, but employs a Digidesign D-Control 32-channel console, a Kinoton 35 mm projector and a Sony digital projector. Both Fig Tree and Loudness use woven fabric projection screens, as opposed to the more normal perforated plastic screens. The audio quality is significantly improved by the use of the acoustically more transparent, fabric screens (made by Screen Research and Screen Excellence, respectively).
5) A smaller version of these rooms is that of Audio Projects, also in Barcelona. This room is too small to be certified for the mixing of feature films, but is certified for commercials and trailers. It has the usual arrangement of loudspeakers behind the screen, and behind the fabric on the side and rear walls, but it can also be used for the mixing of television films and documentaries, for which it has the K & H (now Neumann) 0 300 D loudspeakers in the close field.
6) Noites Longas studio, in Redondos, near Lisbon, Portugal, was the smallest ‘serious’ control room ever designed by Philip Newell. It is in a space of only 12 m2, but it has a structural ceiling which slopes from just over 2 metres to almost 4 metres. What is more, the structure of its rear wall is of relatively lightweight brickwork. As some sound leakage to the adjoining recreation room was not considered to be a problem, very good control of the low frequencies was achieved without losing too much floor space within the control room.
7) By contrast, the 17 m2 control room at Neo Musicbox (shown finished on page 2) was built in a concrete isolation bunker, which confined all the low-frequency energy within the room. The photograph on this page shows the acoustic control measures necessary to get the room under control. Once again, though, adequate ceiling height was available. Small rooms with rigid walls and low ceilings are not suitable as high quality control rooms, no matter what loudspeakers are used.
8) The control room in Peligros, Granada, Spain, is also of similar design, but there is a triple acoustic shell, so the finished room is much smaller that the room in which it is situated. This was due to the fact that the owners wanted to record Rock bands, 24 hours a day, but a neighbouring family lived and slept on the floor directly above the studio and the structure of the building was weak. Despite looking somewhat similar, the starting conditions for Noites Longas, Neo and Produciones Peligrosas were very different, and so acoustic work was also very different, as were the costs of the constructions.
9) In September 2011, Trastecero became operational in Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid. It is a music academy built in a space of 1,300 m2, with parking for about 50 cars. It consists of 30 rehearsal rooms, 10 classrooms, a music shop which can also be employed for showcase events, a 5.1 post-production room, and a recording studio with a control room of 35 m2 and a performing space of 60 m2, 10 m2 of which can be closed off with multiple sliding glass doors if isolation is required. Due to zoning and local authority requirements, the rehearsal rooms had to be made from incombustible materials. The concrete blocks which can be seen in the photographs are very highly absorbent, as are the compressed mineral-wool ceiling tiles and the cavity above. Despite their appearance, the rooms have very short decay times and permit a very detailed sound quality for the musicians.
10) In many control rooms, nowadays, computer monitors obstruct the path of the sound from the loudspeakers, disturbing the sound quality. At Crash, where a multi-format room was required, multiple, large, flat-screens were mounted on the front wall. A wall of computer and video monitors in front of the loudspeakers was never an option.