Wisseloord Studios

Oct 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Tom Kenny



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“Wisseloord was a four-studio complex, and we wanted to make it two mixing rooms and two mastering,” says Prent, a pioneer in both surround sound and high-resolution recording/mastering. “But we didn’t want to touch the walls more than we had to in Studios 1 and 2 because their sound is part of what made Wisseloord so great. The studios were more of a restoration, while the control rooms and mastering rooms are completely redone. A bit of the old and the new.”

In fact, while the wood was in decent shape, the tracking rooms were in disrepair. Traps had to be replaced, two new booths were added in the larger Studio 1, a “blue wave” was added to a wall in Studio 2, and high windows were installed to let in just a bit of natural light. They even found the original plans and the right wood wax. But the larger issue was the need for greater isolation.

“I knew they wanted to keep the studio’s vibe, but we also needed greater separation,” Veith says. “That’s why we had to jack up the whole recording room in Studio 2, including the room-within-a-room construction, in one piece—all together 38 tons—to get a new decoupled floor and footing in. We really did everything to keep the flair, but at the same time match today’s highest requirements.” The control rooms, in retrospect, seemed much easier to work with. After Veith proposed turning them 90 degrees to open up space, they removed the compression ceilings and gained height, then went into the walls, “down to the sand,” and started rebuilding. Except for the 48-fader Avid System 5 in Studio 1 and the 64-channel API Vision in Studio 2, they are geometrically and acoustically identical.

Prent was in charge of equipment selection, and other than the consoles, he wanted identical packages so that projects could move comfortably between rooms. Recording is to tape or Pro Tools HDX. Converters throughout the facility are Prism ADA-8XRs—19 in all, the largest single order the manufacturer has received. Throughout the facility, the analog lines are run using 55 kilometers of ultra-high-quality Grimm cable, a product the Dutch company developed for this project and now sells worldwide.

Rear wall of Studio 2. Note the position of rear speakers.

Rear wall of Studio 2. Note the position of rear speakers.

“Thanks to clean power and great cabling, it’s dead-quiet throughout,” Prent says. “The whole facility. Even when recording and listening at high sample rates, with inserts and cuts and everything in the audio path. It’s astonishing.”

The PMC 5.1 active monitoring system, powered by Bryston amps, was recommended by Veith and heartily endorsed by the partners. It comprises three BB5-XBD-A speakers across the front, a pair of MB2S-XBDs for the rear surrounds, and a set of the smaller AML2s for reference. There is no EQ across the front, just a tweak on the rears.

Prent and Proper have each been involved in award-winning surround projects, and Prent was an early tester/quasi-developer for Philips and Sony with SACD/DSD. They built for 10.1, knowing that they often live in stereo. They wanted volume in the rooms, and they asked for a wide sweet spot.

“The goal is to build control rooms with the best performance in stereo and 5.1,” Veith says. “We were able to soffit mount the front speakers, freeing up space. The stereo image width, then, is connected with the room dimensions—the listening position in the modal field—and this leads to the shape of the side walls with the window and its pendant on the other side, and further to the treatment of the rear wall. The rear speakers are placed a little bit closer together than in the standard specs, based on the experiences of everybody involved. The big thing is, it’s all in balance.”

L.A.-based producer/engineer Csaba Petocz, who has spent the last two months at Wisseloord, working with Ilse DeLange, says, “Working here has been a wonderful experience. The people are great, the API console sounds amazing and the monitoring is beautifully accurate.” Similar feedback on the physical space has been regular these past six months.

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