In this particular blog post I travel to North Carolina after being contacted by Kay Cee, owner/producer of Sound Boy Studio, on a new recording facility he was building ground up near downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Kay Cee is a transplant from Manhattan, New York. He relocated to Raleigh to capitalize on it’s booming real estate market but also to put down roots and continue to produce music. Kay Cee was primarily working out of his home studio…like most of us these days do….but the dream to have a recording studio built ground up was an idea he wanted to turn into reality. Whenever I get these calls, I feel grateful to be given the opportunity to be involved in helping someone achieve this dream in music.
The concept behind Sound Boy studio is a recording facility that was not big and intimidating. A place where client and producer/engineer can communicate quickly and efficiently. The mixing and recording space would occupy roughly about 700 sq. ft. with the additional of studio office, bathroom and lounge area.
The Main System
The base recording system was Avid’s Pro Tools 2018 Ultimate software/Logic Pro X with Lynx Aurora(n) 24 thunderbolt converters. Giving the studio a total of 24 channels in and out. Working hand and hand with the client we decided on a hybrid based system to allow them the flexibility to work “within the box” or to sum analog on the Rupert Neve 5059 Satellite summing mixer.
The client already had a nice collection of gear but some additional 500 series preamps, compressors and equalizers were chosen to be used either on the front-end tracking side or even to be used on the back end during mixing and post production. We are big fans of BAE Audio, API and Rupert Neve Designs…so the system had a nice mixture of these brands. All this gear would be housed in an Argosy Dual 15 workstation with a Argosy rack n roll low profile rack.
2 Buss Set Up
As mentioned above the the Rupert Neve Designs 5059 summing mixer was the primarily device in the summing set up with the addition of some other cool pieces of gear. We added in a Rupert Neve Designs Master Buss Processor and the client already obtained API 2500 to take care of the 2 buss compression side of things. A dangerous BAX Eq rounded out the summing set up with a very simple but effective 2 buss equalizer/tone box.
Wire it up
So, if you have read any of our other blogs you might have come across our custom cable building we do for all our studio integrations. This install was no different. We spec’d out all the cabling to not only hook up the gear but also custom-designed wall panels and snake lines. On this particular install we used a combination of Redco TGS-8/16 pair wire and Belden 8 pair wire to build all the snake lines and custom DB25 cabling. Once we designed the panels we had Redco Audio take over wall panel punching and engraving process.
Audio Accessories DB25 patch bays were once again utilized, as I do in most of our installs as the central hub of the entire system. The flexibility to quickly change grounding and normalling options is very convenient for any modern day recording set up. We installed a total of (3) Audio Accessories 1.5 RU 96 Point TT DB25 patch bays to take care of all necessary ins and outs on this particular system.
* QUICK NOTE: Audio Accessories makes a 1 RU and 1.5 RU versions of their DB25 patch bays. I prefer the 1.5RU mainly because of the labeling aspect. But if real estate is very limited 1 RU version works just as well.
Patchbay: Half Normal, Full Normal, or Isolated
When we layout and install a patch bay here at Pro Audio Boutique…a lot of thought and brainstorming about the exact studios situation determines how things get wired up and how the patch bay is configured and labeled. In most cases…I try to utilize a lot of half-normals and even full normal runs whenever I can. The main goal would be able to plug a mic in the live room and ideally not have to patch anything to get signal into the DAW unless you decided to change that said signal chain.
Same thing on the output…we are dealing with a hybrid situation but I still see it as an analog set up with a traditional mixing console…or in this case the RN 5059 summing mixer being our console. Just like in the old days of wiring the outputs of the tape machine to the tape returns of the mixing console….the situation is no different.
The outputs of the Lynx Aurora(n) 24 are half-normalled into the line inputs of our Rupert Neve summing mixer.
The outputs of the summing mixer are then half-normalled into the main 2 Buss Compressor…in this case the Rupert Neve Design Master Buss Processor.
Then it's output is normalled back into Lynx 24 (n) Inputs to record the final 2-Track mix into Logic or Pro Tools.
If you have come across our other studio installations and integration blogs you will see I always talk about the necessities of any recording studio. I will talk about this from the point of view of a mid and low level commercial recording studio to private home studios….large commercial studios of course have know of these necessities needed in order to have a properly running recording studio forever.
So the necessities for us include Balanced Power and Acoustic Treatment…(which includes proper acoustic isolated speaker stands from Sound Anchors)
Balanced Power is the key to a low noise, high-headroom recording system. For this, we have always relied on Equitech Balanced Power units. Equitech Power has always been the standard in large commercial recording studios but the idea of putting Balanced power in smaller commercial set up or home studio is possible as well with their rack mount/shelf units. We installed an Equitech Son of Q 2R 20 Amp unit at Sound Boy studio. This would not only help drop the overall noise level of the gear and incoming power but provide more ample headroom for expansion in the future. An increase in low end and stereo image is pretty evident when having all your gear run through an Equitech balanced power unit.
Next, Sound Anchors ADJ-1 and ADJ-2 heavy duty, commercial grade studio monitor stands. We talk a lot about Sound Anchors speaker stands and for good reason. These are the best and last pair of studio monitor stands you will ever have to buy. These are hand-built/welded here in the U.S.A. Sound Anchors stands not only support the heaviest of studio monitors in the market but actually help your studio monitors perform at their best. The patented, isolated build and heavily welded design of Sound Anchors stands is what makes them special. These stands literally de-couple your studio monitors from the floor. We also add in Sound Anchors Cone Coasters for additional isolation.
Speaker stand placement is part of acoustic treatment placement…. It all goes hand in hand. Improper placement of your studio monitors will make them work way harder than they need to. You will find not only will they lack in impact and overall volume but tonally you might find you are getting too much or too little bass….and controlling bass is the #1 priority in getting a mix/listening room right.
On that note: The main monitor controller center piece was a Dangerous Music Monitor St. A pair of Focal Trio 11Be would act as the main playback system for monitoring.
And lastly…Acoustics. Let me make something clear in this blog…We are not acoustic designers here at Pro Audio Boutique. But through years up setting up a lot of small to mid sized control rooms around the country we have obtained the knowledge to get out clients set up in a proper listening environment. Knowing not only proper speaker placement but acoustic placement is key to getting a good sounding mix/listening room. All the rooms I set up are based on the 38% rule by studio designer, Wes Lachot. Determining this is usually done thru understanding some basics dimensions of the room along with a little math. Here is a good start for anyone that is interested: https://realtraps.com/art_room-setup.htm.
So for acoustic treatment, we once again reached out the guys at Real Traps Acoustics in Connecticut to help use get the control room at Sound Boy studio under control. We installed a total of (16) Traps in Sound Boys 17x15 control room. You can always use more traps for a room this size but that is what the budget allowed. And quite honestly it did a pretty great job balancing the room out. Kay Cee at Sound Boy Studios says they plan on adding additional front wall Mega Trapping in the future for increased low end control. The difference in the sound of the room before and after acoustic treatment was evident and like usual you can see that in the clients expression when they hear it for the first time.
Quick Note: Most people realistically do not have the budget to hire an acoustician…but…if you do have that kind of budget I highly recommend you do.
Monitor and Cue System
In terms of a what kind of monitor/cue system we installed for those that are curious… The client opted for a Behringer P16m multi-channel cue system along with Sony 7506 headphones for artists. Cat 6 ports were integrated into the custom wall panels for this purpose.
We also hooked the client up with a Latch Lake MicKing 2200 microphone stand. These are the best microphone stands on the market period. They are built to last a lifetime of everyday studio and you will never get the dreaded microphone drupe.
Wrapping it up
Another studio integration is complete. No matter how many studio installs I do or will do in the future..it Is the same as with being an audio engineer. It's fun but challenging and there is always something you learn from it no matter how many times you have done it before. I thank Kay Cee and all my other studio install clients for allowing me the opportunity to help them in getting one step closer to creating music and their dream.
Till the next Install,