Sonosphere, in conjunction with Metropolis Studios, has created a new mix room at its home, the Power House, Chiswick, London. The Munro Acoustics-designed, Dolby certified studio has a centrally located mix position, with comprehensive immersive audio monitoring designed to cater for all surround formats. The control room pursues an ambitious and flexible new ‘hub studio’ approach.
“The plan was to make the studio as versatile as possible,” states Sonosphere commercial director Jamie Gosney. “We started out looking at building a room for podcasting and immersive content creation for games and other VR simulations. However, in terms of the music market, Dolby Atmos is very much the standard. So we decided to ‘have our cake and eat it’, and build a room to fully meet the Atmos specifications: an immersive monitoring environment capable of 11.1.8 Dolby Atmos, currently the highest Dolby resolution studio in the country.
“The room has been equipped for all possible formats, including having a Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite server. ”Three Neumann KH 420 tri-amplified monitors are soffit-mounted to the front wall (with one KH 420 horizontal, beneath the video screen). Twin Neumann KH 870 subwoofers flank the three-way monitors, with low frequency response down to 18Hz.”
A key mission was to ensure clean and extended low frequency from the twin subwoofers, with the required isolation to accurately judge tone-shaping a full octave below the effective range of many monitoring systems.
Part of the mix room construction involved nearly two tons of sand to isolate the back wall, which adjoins another studio at Metropolis. Surround monitoring is handled by 17 Neumann KH 120 compact bi-amplified studio monitors, renowned for uniformity between units, and with a ± 1.0dB linearity deviation between 100Hz–10kHz.
A key member of the Sonosphere studio team is mix engineer Phil Wright who says, “We decided on three loudspeakers across the back wall, with all the loudspeakers around the room arrayed at 30° of separation to each other, so the setup was completely symmetrical for doing third-order [high-order Ambisonic] work. Atmos is more ‘front-centric’ so one of the rear loudspeakers will not be in use, and two of the others will be electronically adjusted for Dolby using a DAD (Digital Audio Denmark) AX32 monitor controller. The AX32 enables any number of virtual room presets to be optimised for different immersive formats.”
The new studio adds an immersive dimension to Metropolis’ comprehensive array of four recording studios and five mastering rooms.
Jamie Gosney concludes: “There is already a significant order book for the room in terms of record labels, who want well-known catalogue content remixed in Atmos so they can add it to HD streaming services. We are also in talks with a number of live venues, production companies and promotors as the studio can be very easily attached, via fibre, to virtually any venue in the country and used as a live broadcast and streaming hub.”
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