On the Cover: Manifold Recording

May 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Tom Kenny


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“The concept and the wiring and equipment and outboard and mic locker is very old-school analog,” Lachot says. “And it’s on a pretty large scale. But Michael was insistent from the beginning that the entire space was to be designed for musicians. So within the 24-foot-high music room, we were able to create these places of intimacy. We worked with Peter D’Antonio and incorporated an extensive amount of RPG acoustic products that in some cases bring areas of the rooms down and make it feel more human in scale.”

In the 21-inch-thick concrete walls, Lachot worked with RPG DiffusorBlox, which act as both diffusors and bass traps, having slotted Helmoltz resonators within them, tuned to different frequencies. RPG TopAkustik wood, highly absorptive, is used extensively throughout, in the side walls of the control room and in the cloud that fills the ceiling in the Music Room. The cloud is further defined by the RPG Bad Panels, a combo reflective-absorptive material. The reverb time is variable via reversible panels and sits roughly between 0.75 and 1.75 seconds.

The front wall of the control room incorporates an 11-foot broadband bass trap with a 4-foot air gap. Tiemann is particularly proud of calming the low end; he has an aversion to “glop.” Those colored-glass devices pictured on the cover are diffusors that change color depending on location and complement the Quadratic Residue Diffusor back wall. The room is modeled on the concepts of a Reflection-Free Zone. The entire structure was built, as all Lachot projects are, by Tony Brett of Brett Acoustics in Durham Hill, N.C.

Tiemann freely admits that the API console wasn’t part of his original plan—he was leaning toward digital—and he was convinced, in part, by Lachot to look at the Vision. “What API did, whether by accident or design, is they produced a topology, a circuitry and a quality that you can listen to, and say, ‘That is the sound,’” he says. “And if you look at the picture of the Vision in the control room, my gosh, it fits well.” [Laughs]

The Vision has 48 channels of 550L EQ and 16 channels of 560 L EQ, with two 12-slot penthouses above the patchbay to house current and future 500 Series modules. Sixty-four channels of Harrison analog I/O feed the faders, with an additional 48 channels of Harrison analog I/O integrated with the aux, cue and effects systems. Eighty more channels of digital I/O are available for video and additional effects systems.

Like the API Vision, which presents stereo and surround mixes as two different entities, the control room offers soffit-mounted Dynaudio M4s to provide stereo monitoring while surround monitoring is separate, with mid-fields or near-fields on telescoping Sound Anchor stands. The Annex is a 5.1 room, completely digital, based around a Harrison Trion console, with monitoring yet to be determined.

Chief engineer Ian Schreier selected much of the outboard gear, and the facility is stocked with D.W. Fearn, Manley, Tube-Tech, Millennia, Lavry and Avalon. The mic locker includes models form Neumann, AKG, DPA, Earthworks, Coles, Royer and Sennheiser, among others.

Tiemann is both a visionary and a realist, and is fully aware of the economics of today’s recording industry. He realizes that he will not make his investment back by booking time at an hourly rate. His dream is much bigger, and admittedly bolder, and it centers around the participation of the audience as a co-producer on any and all projects.

“For the past 20 years, I’ve felt that the music industry is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to recorded music,” he says. “Especially when you look at the loudness wars. Then in live music, with larger venues and moving the audience further away, you’re selling less and less music to more and more people. We’ve finally begun to see the limits of what people will tolerate. I believe the best remedy to this problem is to reboot the expectation of an artistic performance and go back to the fundamental of people sharing space in a room. There are a lot of people who want to participate and produce that kind of experience. Miles Davis used to bring 30 or 40 of his nearest and dearest and play to them in the studio. We find what it means to become a co-producer of the performance they witness; this will create an apostolic revolution. They will tell people they have again found meaning in music.

“To me, music is a story,” he concludes. “When you do not invite the audience to be producers, they do not engage in the story. We’re creating an environment where what we are recording is a story told to those present and then shared. We want to reconceptualize what a musical production is.”

Floor plan of Manifold Recording Main building and Annex

Floor plan of Manifold Recording Main building and Annex

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