An international music education has become a lot more accessible – and enticing – thanks to recent developments at Berklee College of Music.
The renowned contemporary music education school has opened its first campus outside of Boston with Berklee in Valencia (Spain). Located within the stunning Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia – a multipurpose arts complex – Berklee in Valencia features a highly advanced recording/teaching complex designed by Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) (Highland, NY).
The studio facility within the Music Technology Complex represents the final element of Berklee’s first international campus, which recently launched its master’s programs, and comprises five inter-related components. The 1600 sq. ft. scoring stage/studio – Studio K – which includes an 860 sq. ft. live room with 15-foot ceilings and features variable acoustic wall treatments developed for diverse recording configurations. The studio’s windows provide full views of the Palau and allow the public to view Berklee’s music activities. The live room is supported by a 500 sq. ft. control room, two 250 sq. ft. ISO/overdub booths, and an isolated machine room.
Each aspect of the studio combines to form a world-class recording complex designed to support Berklee’s master’s students and visiting artists, as they transition from student to music professional. Avid/Euphonix controllers are deployed throughout to take advantage of the Eucon protocol, for seamless migration of projects across the facility, up to and including the flagship System 5. Future plans include the installation of an identical console in Boston, which will facilitate real time joint sessions between the two locations.
The entire facility, whose design was overseen by WSDG architect/acoustician John Storyk, is configured through a central machine room for speed, ease of turnaround, and high interconnectivity between rooms, including the Palau de les Arts’ concert halls. The System 5 has 48 channels, with 128 channels of I/O, and 176 mic lines. In addition, there is a broad selection of analog processing with plenty of room for additions should the need arise.
Take a video tour of the new Berklee in Valencia facilities:
Monitoring in the production suites is all-Genelec – 5.1 surround in Studio A, and 2.1 stereo in Studios B, C, and D. The control room in Studio K features the Meyer Sound Acheron 7.1 surround monitoring system. The room also includes Griffin Audio G2B Active main stereo monitors, along with ProAc and Yamaha NS-10’s. Additionally, the room has been designed to Dolby specifications and readied for the new Dolby Atmos Cinema Sound monitoring protocol.
Along with the Valencia campus, WSDG was also responsible for designing and constructing recording studios for Berklee College of Music’s $100 million + new building at 160 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. WSDG’s portfolio includes facilities for clients including Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, Def Jam Records, ESPN, Jay-Z, Jazz at Lincoln Center, MTV Latin America and the 2012 TEC Award-winning Jungle City Studios, among thousands of other domestic and international clients.
Autumn has arrived in New York City, and along with it a wave of audio facilities that are either completely new or significantly improved.
Leading the charge is OZ Studios, a new world-class facility in Manhattan’s Garment District. Owned by the highly successful multimedia company MBK Entertainment — which counts Alicia Keys, Elle Varner, Gabi Wilson, Daisha, Allen Stone, Anthony Hall, and SWV among others on its production/management roster — OZ is an elite, commercially available two-room production space which should prove to be an ideal environment for tracking and mixing.
OZ was designed by John Storyk of Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG), and features two relatively compact production suites. First is Studio A, a 230 sq. ft. live room, and 190 sq. ft. control room equipped with an SSL Duality SE 24 Input Analog Console, Apple Logic Pro Studio, Avid Digidesign HD3, Augspurger Custom Main Monitors and a wide range of outboard gear. OZ’ 150 sq. ft. Studio B control room has an SSL Matrix console, Adams S5X-V speakers and a 60 sq. ft. sound booth. Both studios are adjacent to a 600 sq. ft.-plus common lounge area.
WSDG came to the attention of MBK Founder/CEO Jeff Robinson and his partners Jeanine Mclean, Misha Hedman, and Suzette Williams, following John Storyk’s work for Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, and Jungle City. Subsequently, WSDG collaborated with contractors Sonic Construction and gear integrators GC Pro Boston to complete the facility.
Located on the 19th floor at 519 8th Avenue, OZ also provides wide views of the Hudson River, a perspective which also reportedly includes highly inspiring sunset views. Designed to accommodate both OZ artists and outside sessions, the studio plans to make an immediate impact on music, film, and TV.
“We are developing a program to maximize the potential of our new studio,” Robinson says. “While our artists will have first dibs on studio time for their projects, we plan to make this outstanding studio available to outside artists, producers engineers as well as for film/TV production. In the years to come, we hope to see a return on our investment, not just in monetary terms, but also as a source for meaningful, lasting music. These studios are finely tuned instruments. We are developing a number of highly talented artists, and we anticipate a steady flow of hits from this beautiful facility.”
For OZ booking inquiries, contact Misha Hedman, 646-528-5444, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An in-depth feature on OZ Studios will be appearing on SonicScoop soon.
EAST HAMPTON, NY: Cynthia Daniels was surrounded by foam. But when the natural beauty of the famed Hamptons – and the surprisingly abundant audio needs of its equally famed residents – are beckoning, this is not a good thing.
What were the reasons for the acoustic insulation overload that was affecting Daniels, a GRAMMY-winning engineer/mixer/producer who has been recording sounds of every sort since 1984? Her condition stemmed from two causes:
1) Nonstop demand for her talents, which span recording and mixing for Broadway, film, TV, and music clients of every stripe, and
2) The almost total lack of an acceptable audio facility to work out of anywhere near her Hamptons home base
“I can’t tell you the amount of money I spent on foam, and trying to make records in a small space,” Daniels relates of her home studio days. “Sometimes I got good results. But there are many people who come here over the summer – or live here all year – who need a place to record. They’re used to a beautiful environment where they’re being taken care of, and they like finding it run by an engineer with the same years of experience in cities like Los Angeles and New York.”
That engineer would be Daniels, and the place they can now go to record anything from a quick VO to a full-on rock album is MonkMusic, a new 650-sq. ft. studio designed by the Walters-Storyk Design Group. As versatile as its owner, the three-room complex is built to welcome an East End jam band outfit one day, and an airtight ADR session for the likes of local residents like Sir Paul McCartney, Alec Baldwin, and Sarah Jessica Parker the next.
Like a lot of smart ventures, location location location was a massive part of the strategy for making MonkMusic – an aesthetically appealing wing attached to Daniels’ home – a reality.
“Having lived in the Hamptons for 15 years, and vaciatoned here for 15 years before that, I know there is nothing close to this – technically or sonically — for at least 70 miles,” Daniels explains, in her high-energy manner. “So I’m providing what I hope is a technical and aesthetic excellence that comes from my experience. Meanwhile, I try to keep my ears and mind open, because innovation and new means of expression are the name of the game.”
If anyone knows the game its Daniels, a Connecticut native attracted early on to the wonders of audio engineering, who then moved to NYC and managed to get her early training with no less than Phil Ramone at the landmark studio A&R Recording. Surrounded by the “Platinum Crew” of legends like Ramone, Elliot Scheiner, Ed Rak and Tom Jung, Daniels quietly became an A-list engineer in her own right, amassing a dizzyingly large list of clients since her first credited session in 1984.
Of her hundreds of credits — from Broadway to Carnegie Hall soloists and Lincoln Center opera, TV, film and spoken word — highlights include a 2002 GRAMMY Award for recording and mixing The Producers, a 2007 Emmy for composition and music supervision on the longest-running daytime series “Guiding Light“, and yet another GRAMMY in 2011 for her work on the Julie Andrews Collection CD.
Her music clients span the best of orchestral pop to big band jazz, including Chaka Khan, Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Sandra Berhnard and Eartha Kitt. There’s literally far too much to list – a trip to her Website is highly recommended for the full picture.
Sporting a singularly spectacular place for her business, and 2.5 decades-plus of contacts to complement it, Daniels had a clear vision of what MonkMusic should be. Working closely with WSDG principal John Storyk and his team, she was able to map out a vision for a tailored facility where space – due to the Hamptons’ understandably specific zoning requirements – would be the only limitation.
Zen and the Art of Studio Design: “More Than a Mix Room”
For Daniels, the opportunity was not simply to have the best-sounding studio possible, but one molded exactly to her ears and workflow. “The goal was to get a room that I really understood,” she explains. “In terms of sound characteristics, predictable results and aesthetic appeal, it needed to deliver a consistent product in a place that had a great vibe.
“I never imagined I would have my own John Storyk-designed room, and that’s a selling point for the studio. I think people like to know that, from the ground up, you’ve chosen the best for a project, to create a room that’s well-made for recording. The result here is the best money could buy, in this amount of space. I don’t think we cut any corners – what we cut was real estate.”
Although 650 sq. feet may sound small for a three-room recording/mixing complex, MonkMusic in fact feels expansive, and fittingly zen. Daniels’ priorities in the design were to make it “more than a mix room”, specifying clear lanes for visual contact between the compact live room and iso booth that flank the invitingly spacious control room. High ceilings of 11’ 2” allow the sounds from vocalists, guitar amps, drums, horns, strings, and/or a piano to breathe without being overly live.
At all turns, of course, total sound isolation between the rooms and especially to the outside world — where a permanent “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs on the high-priced homes in all directions – is essential. “This is a commercial-grade studio in a residential town,” says Daniels. “The soundproof double doors here are one of the most expensive parts of the facility.”
With magic carpets clean out of stock, Daniels chose a hybrid Avid C-24 console to fly the room, currently running Pro Tools 9 (an upgrade to 10 is imminent) with HD 3. A set of 5.1 Genelec 8240DSP monitors w/subwoofer were tuned for the room by Genelec and Mike Chafee of Michael Chafee Enterprises.
Available preamps include choices from Avalon, NPNG, Pacifica, Sytek, Millenia, and Focusrite, connecting to a treasure chest of classic and custom mics including a pair of DPA 4006-TL’s, a vintage AKG C-12 with original 6072 tube, Tab Funkenwerk UM 25 and UM 17 handbuilt by Oliver Archut with NOS Telefunken tubes, Neumann U87 and U89, AKG 414, Sennheiser 421S, and Royer R-122 Tube mic. Allesandro amps and cabinets, vintage guitars, a Yahama upright piano, and much more for the noisemakers are all on site.
Ready for the Pressure
While WSDG project manager Matt Ballos nailed down the studio’s acoustics (working closely with the local contractor who had never built acoustically-focused rooms before), Daniels worked with WSDG associate Judy Elliot-Brown of Rocket Science, and Mike Donahower on the wiring program and systems integration/installation. All the better to best handle what she identifies as the single-most daunting task on Monk Music’s menu of offerings.
“An ADR session can be extremely complex,” she points out. “It often requires you to send time code down the line, as you deliver the video into a part of the country with a different time zone. You are checking the synch, while you have pages and pages of lines close to each other, setting up leads in beeps, keeping track of the takes, which are moving fast because the artist needs to move fast. The director and three other people are in L.A., and another producer is over here. That, to me, is incredibly challenging in terms of focus and flow. I’m more relaxed recording a 60-piece orchestra on any given day!”
Sonic Sophistication Fit for the East End
But as it turns out, the difference in executing fast, painless ADR and VO for the mega-celebs that populate the Hamptons isn’t entirely about what she brings to the sessions – it’s also what they arrive with. “I’ve found that the more professional a person is, and the more experienced they are, the less they have to prove,” says Daniels. “What they really want is to do the job, so they can get out of here and go do what they want, without having to go all the way to Manhattan. No matter how famous the person is, your task is the same: You’re working with an artist, and your job is to make their job easier. As an engineer, you are facilitating – you are a facility.”
While it may be easy to channel some reverse snobbery of sorts at the Hamptons, the fact is that this collection of villages and hamlets on Long Island’s South Fork is a vibrant cultural beacon all its own. The serene beauty of the ocean and land have long served as a muse for American artistic giants ranging from Jackson Pollack and John Steinbeck to Billy Joel, a setting inspirational to an active East End music scene that stays creative year-round.
Daniels does her part to shed light on that scene with her MonkMusic Radio broadcast, which happens twice a month on WPPB 88.3 FM. “I’ve produced and recorded a lot of local artists, put them on the air, and its blossomed into something bigger than I ever expected,” relates Daniels, whose recent guests have included Nancy Atlas, Joe Delia and Garland Jeffries (go here to check out the archived broadcasts). “I’m really active in the community, and I’ve created a facility for the local musicians to come to. And I realized that I’m in service of something – service is not a penance, and everything they said is true: The more I give, the more I get.”
What Cynthia Daniels and the Hamptons have both gotten is a much-deserved sonic sanctuary. Finally in a home away from foam, her new wing is a wonderland where an accomplished career is taking flight once again.
“I’m feeling an advance in my level of creativity,” she confirms. “There’s something about the feeling of this space…it’s an amazing environment where musicians want to come, play live, and record with each other. I can spend innumerable hours a day here, and want to come back for more.”
– David Weiss
This handsome commercial facility – located on Thompson Street, naturally – comprises an SSL 4000G-equipped A Room, Neve 8108-based B room, and a savvy production suite. All are tied to a substantial live room and iso booths, with access to a full kitchen and lounge. Click for the virtual 360° tour of each room in this facility, created by Cheryl Fleming and Patrick St. Clair.
Along with the SSL 4000G Series console – fitted with Automation and Total Recall, and recapped and restored by 81series.com – Thompson Studio A has been equipped with Pro Tools HD3, Studer 827 24-track tape machine, and Boxer T5 Main Monitors, coupled by two Genelec 1094 subs, Yamaha NS-10′s, Genelec 1031′s and Auratone Speakers. An iso booth and robust array of analog outboard gear and keyboards, synthesizers, instruments and microphones, flesh out the room for production, tracking, mixing, overdubbing, film scoring and composition.
In Studio B, the Neve 8108 (also restored by 81series.com) is complemented by a choice of DAWs – Pro Tools HD3/ Logic/ Cubase – Barefoot MM27 and NS10 monitors, and its own vocal booth. Studio C is a comfortable writing/production room equipped with Pro Tools, Logic and Final Cut Pro and ties to the main live room and both iso booths.
Benedetti had apparently been searching for a space for two years before he landed at 54 Thompson. Following the completion of an initial buildout, the Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) provided extensive design recommendations. WSDG architect/acoustician John Storyk and project manager Joshua Morris oversaw substantial improvements that achieved complete acoustic isolation and extremely accurate sound translation throughout the complex.
Thompson Studios is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that’s historically been populated by artists but short on world-class recording/mixing options. It will be interesting to see if Benedetti proves successful in attracting a loyal clientele from NYC and beyond.
Check out some photos of the space below, by Cheryl Fleming Photography. And visit www.thompsonstudiosnyc.com, email email@example.com or call 212-925-4400 for more info and to book time at Thompson Studios.
Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG), the acoustics and audio/video design firm based in Highland, NY, continues to expand its presence in Europe. Dirk Noy, partner and European GM for WSDG, has announced the opening of new offices in Cologne, Germany and Barcelona, Spain.
Carlo Fickler, who has been with WSDG since 2006, has been selected to head up the Cologne branch. Fickler is an expert in architectural acoustics and audio/visual technology integration, and will be focused on existing projects and on expanding the firm’s client base on the Continent.
Fickler completed the interdisciplinary program in audio and video technology at the University of Applied Sciences and Robert-Schumann-College of Music Duesseldorf in 2004. After a year as an assistant recording engineer in NYC, followed by freelance work as a sound engineer in Germany, Fickler joined WSDG in Basel, Switzerland in 2006.
WSDG’s Cologne branch is equipped with a full complement of advanced measurement equipment and software tools to analyze all room, structural and electro acoustical issues.
The Barcelona office will be overseen by Marc Viadiu and Robert Alfageme. Viadiu studied Technical Engineering in Sound and Image and Higher Engineering in Electronics at the University Ramon Llull in Barcelona. After graduation, Viadiu worked in an industrial acoustics company in Barcelona, before heading his own acoustic engineering and acoustic/audio product distribution firm. In 2009 Viadiu served a six-month internship at the WSDG NY office where he focused on project drawing, acoustical measurements and room acoustical calculations. Following his return to Spain in 2010, he rejoins WSDG in the new Barcelona office.
Robert Alfageme studied architecture at the University International of Catalunya, Spain, where he specialized in Acoustical Construction at the Sert School in Barcelona. Independent acoustical consultant assignments led to a collaboration with Marc Viadiu, and on to their WSDG Spain association.
“Since opening our Swiss office with Dirk Noy in 1997, we have completed a number of high profile European assignments,” WSDG co-principal John Storyk says. “These range from Moscow’sVGTRK Broadcast/Recording complex, the Sunshine Mastering facility in Vienna and the Swiss Parliament Building in Bern to Zurich International Airport. We are extremely enthusiastic about the potential of the European market and are confident our new German and Spanish offices will enable us to better serve the international corporate, institutional, recording and broadcast communities.”