In a place as creative as Orange County, an inspirational new space is long overdue.
Fortunately, that facility has arrived in the form of Hybrid Studios, an ambitious audio video complex that intends to shake things up on the West Coast. After all, at last count the OC stood as the third most populous county in all of California – it stands to reason that it would get a big new place to create sound and vision.
Whether you crave size or style, Hybrid Studios offers up both in ample supply. Founded by studio pro Billy Klein (Epic Records, Sony Music, Shakira, Keith Urban, Adele, The Bravery) and video director Patrick Akhamlich, it provides over 7,500 square feet of audio and visual production space to a local and national clientele that’s already putting it to good use.
SSL and Room to Move
A generous portion of Hybrid’s infrastructure is dedicated to sound: The spacious 900-plus square foot control room is centered around a 64-channel SSL 4046G+ console, all the better to adjoin the 1,000 square foot live tracking room. Acoustics by the highly respected Hanson Hsu (Universal Music Mastering) ensure that accuracy is in line with the legroom.
Hybrid is equally comprehensive for video, thanks to an eye-popping and adaptable 2,000 square-foot sound stage. A dual insulated 14’ x 12’ door and a 20’ x 35’ x 20’ cyclorama are there, lit by Kino Image 87 light fixtures, which are suspended in the air from a 600-square foot lighting grid. A make-up room with a full bath, dressing, and green room are all on hand, as is a soundproof 5.1 mixing and video editing suite that can produce small concerts, live audience TV shows, and beyond.
Gluing it all together is an immersive aesthetic, created by interior designer Jonathan Lopez. Walk through Hybrid, and a hypersonic sound wave-inspired form guides you, introducing undulating vertical fins that appear as if they’re simply emerging from the white walls.
The wave walls appear to respond to their location, varying in amplitude and depth: it’s a quieter sound wave for the more intimate spaces which incorporate the media centers, more movement in the collaborative people zones, and fully animated on the feature wall that wraps around the recording studio. Meticulous attention to color, advanced spatial organization, and much more pleasingly bold feng shui make Hybrid a signature space – when you’re here, you know it.
Reinventing the Region
According to Klein, a big point of Hybrid is to bring something new to Orange County that simply hadn’t been there before.
“There are a lot of studios here in Orange County,” he says, “but respectfully, most of them run off of the same equipment you would find in a home recording studio. With our control room built around an SSL 4064G+ console and the same acoustic quality as Universal Music’s mastering facility, we consider ourselves to be the world class studio Orange County never had.
“We’re basically competing with the LA big boys – such as Ocean Way, East West, Westlake — a stone’s throw down the freeway, without all the traffic and smog. Our plans for Hybrid were very detailed, and a ton of research on the local studio and music scenes were done before we selected this location.”
For Klein and his partners, however, the number one unique selling proposition springs from the fact that half of the building is a full soundstage – a convergence that opens Hybrid up to a more wide-reaching client base than your typical studio.
“We have a massive cyclorama, a 5.1 production/editing suite, makeup and dressing rooms, and green room, all on the visual studio side of the building,” he explains. “We can incorporate both parts of the audio and video world, which makes us a commodity to anyone from a national corporate company looking to film their next commercial, to the band down the street looking to take their career to the next level. That’s what really sets us apart.”
As the middle point between Los Angeles and San Diego, the Orange County music scene is a California melting pot. “We’ve had some of the best musicians come through Orange County with everything from pop, country, hard rock, hip hop, etc…,” says Klein. “It’s very cool that Orange County isn’t known for a specific genre — like Nashville or Austin — and it keeps things fresh with all the different genres.
“From Huntington and Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Long Beach, and obviously LA and San Diego as well, it’s fascinating to see how each city is different with their local scene. Basically the Orange County music scene is all over the board — I think that’s what makes it so great.”
Putting Audio and Video Together for the OC
Even better, is that Hybrid Studios is looking beyond just what happens within its walls. Billy Klein would like to see his facility be just one part of a next-level time for creativity and production in this big corner of California.
“We are very excited to be a small part of the evolution of Orange County productions,” he reflects. “At the moment, many of the ‘nicer’ studios are home studios in producer’s homes. So basically instead of projects being influenced by the work environment, every project that comes to Hybrid starts out with a fresh slate, where literally possibilities are endless and every project varies in genre.
“I think that the whole point of music is to affect people, and that it’s the type of art that should constantly be evolving in order to do so. In saying that, we hope artists feel comfortable here and take advantage of everything we’re able to do within our facility.
“The fact that we can track, mix, and master a great project, then shoot an EPK and music videos, then hold a live showcase for them all under the same roof. That’s something I think evolves what is possible in Orange County.”
— David Weiss