How Did A Toffee Factory Become a Recording Studio?

How Did A Toffee Factory Become a Recording Studio?
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How Did A Toffee Factory Become a Recording Studio?

As an industry-leading supplier of professional audio equipment and a well-known provider of high-quality studio installations, our mission at Studiospares is to deliver customised solutions that meet each client's unique needs. Recently Wakefield Grammar School approached us to design and build an advanced recording and music production studio that would provide their students with access to industry-standard equipment and a customised space tailored to their specific requirements to help facilitate their development as competent audio engineers and future leaders in the audio industry.

To begin the studio installation for Wakefield Grammar School we consulted with the Schools Director of Junior Music, Andy Renshaw to discuss the vision and goal of the studio installation so that our expert team could be effective in creating a comprehensive plan for what kind of gear they might need, tied to their budget requirements and what was possible with space they had to provide.

However, the project was not without its challenges, on the initial site viewing, it was discovered that the room the school had earmarked for the control room installation had once been used as an industrial toffee factory and was fitted with tiles floor to ceiling that had been painted over. Needless to say, this would have made for a less-than-effective space for recording and listening to audio! Turning this space into a fully-fledged professional recording studio wasn't going to be an easy task. However, with some in-depth planning, project management and critical thinking, we delivered the school a schedule of work for their estate's team, including some remedial building work to remove the highly reflective surfaces, giving us a solid base from which to commence the build.

Once the estate’s team had carried out remedial building work and the budget, gear list, and fitting plan had been approved by Andy Renshaw, we were then able to quickly start the precision Installation.

Acoustically treating the space

The new facility features a sophisticated control room equipped with cutting-edge, industry-standard recording equipment fit for the highest quality audio work. As a starting point for the studio installation, industry-standard methods were used to calculate the acoustics of the room and what kind of treatment would be needed to create an ideal critical listening environment, which is the most important thing in any studio.

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To achieve the desired treatment of the room, StudioATK Acoustic Treatment Kits were used, which were perfect for the job because they addressed all the problems that were presented to us, such as standing waves, reflections, and flutter echo, which were negatively affecting the listening environment. This was especially true around the perimeter and in the corners of the room, where there was a large bass build-up.

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While listening it wasn’t hard to notice a significant number of unwanted reflections being reflected from the ceiling above the prime listening position. This negatively impacted sound perception and hindered workflow efficiency. To address this issue, a set of SnowSound Suspended Ceiling Acoustic Treatments were installed. This solution effectively eliminated the problem and enhanced the prime listening position, creating an optimal environment for accurate sound evaluation. As a result, users can now confidently trust what they hear and make swift decisions, which is particularly crucial for students working under tight schedules.

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Crafting the perfect listening position

Once the control room had been acoustically treated, the attention then shifted to the prime listening position, as this is where the students will be spending most of their time in the studio. We started by installing a pair of top-of-the-line Neumann KH310 3 Way Active Monitors and then decoupling them with a set of IsoAcoustics ISO-Pucks. This was done to ensure that the bass response was as accurate as possible, so the students can judge the bottom end of whatever they record.

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But it didn't stop there! Then using Sonarworks SoundID Reference we were able to make sure that the monitors were perfectly matched to the treated room; we carried out a room correction and calibration, removing any inconsistencies and anomalies, so that the students can hear the true sound and make decisions when working without having to second guess what they're hearing.

The centrepiece I/O of the studio is a UAD Apollo x8p for the highest quality conversion, access to the world-class UA plug-ins, whilst allowing expansion and flexibility, so that if in the future Wakefield wanted to add more channels to their workflow, also added was an Audient ASP880 via ADAT, opening up a further 8 channels. There was also space left for another 8-channel expansion unit should they wish to go up to 24-channel mic pre-inputs in the future.

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Interacting with the studio and sound creation

We really considered how and what would be the best way for the students to interact with the studio, so we installed an Audient Nero Desktop Monitor Controller (for speaker control and talk-back duties) and 2x SSL UF8 Advanced DAW Controllers to give the students 16 channels of flying fader hands-on workflow experience whilst preparing them for hybrid and out-of-the-box recording, to prepare them for future recording situations where they may have to adapt their workflow.

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Following this, our focus then moved on to sound creation. We installed the DAW, audio interface and plugin software, sound libraries, and all peripheral software, and tested everything prior to installation to ensure everything correctly functioned straight out of the box! The M1 Max Mac Studio was loaded with Native Instruments Komplete 13 to give the students of Wakefield Grammar School an unparalleled amount of choice when it comes to sound creation, whether it's piano, drums or sounds to cinematic synth sounds, it's now all at the fingertips of the students to be used any way they see fit. Also added to the students workflow was a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 and a Native Instruments Maschine MK3 to give the students two completely unique ways to interact with the Komplete 13 library to vary how they approach sound creation.

Custom Esmono Booth Live Room

Next to be installed was the live room as an isolated place for capturing the student's performances. Chosen was a bespoke-fit Esmono Booth. The all-metal flexible construction achieves this essentially by creating a room within a room which decouples it from adjoining spaces, thus creating the isolating effect that is imperative in monitoring the audio coming in through the control room whilst sounding incredible. Esmono Booths are known for their high standards of quality and versatility, and we were able to provide the perfect fit for the school's needs by offering a range of sizes. In this case, the school opted for a custom-fit, modular 4m x 2.85m Esmono Booth with 100mm-thick insulation. The booth's modular design allowed us to integrate it seamlessly into the school's space, creating a unique solution for their sound needs.

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Imperative Audio PVB

In addition to the Esmono Booth, the project also features our very own Imperative Audio Portable Vocal Booth (PVB). This portable, multiple-use sound-isolating booth provides an ideal recording environment for anything from voiceovers to guitar amps in any space. This isn't just a "portable solution"; with reflections reduced to 0.07 seconds, up to -28.4dB noise reduction, and stylish construction, the PVB has been purposely engineered to be every bit as good (if not better) than any other booth, and the results speak for themselves. Its innovative design allows for easy assembly and disassembly, making it perfect for use in locations where permanent sound isolation isn't feasible, whilst also maximising the space of the room as it can be disassembled or easily moved, which is ideal for Wakefield if they have a number of students in the studio at the same time.

 

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Impact on Audio and Music Education at Wakefield Grammar School

The studio installation at Wakefield Grammar School exemplifies the high standard of work we perform in the realm of studio installations. A huge amount of pride is taken in delivering the highest standard customised solutions that address each client's unique needs. By working closely with educational institutions like Wakefield Grammar School, it helps shape the future of the audio and music industry by offering students the opportunity to learn and grow in environments comparable to professional studios.

The new recording and music production studio at Wakefield Grammar School provides an exceptional learning environment for students interested in pursuing a career in audio and music production, which will undoubtedly set them up for success down the road. We are immensely proud to have carried out the studio installation for Wakefield Grammar School to deliver a customised solution that benefits their students and showcases our dedication to quality and innovation.

Installation report

The installation was a resounding success. The whole Wakefield Grammar School studio installation had a strict timeline of 3-4 months for completion; with careful consideration of every single aspect of this project, we managed to complete the installation in 8 weeks from conception to sign-off to the high standard Studiospares has become known for, as well as coming in under budget, saving the school a total of £5,000 in the process. Andy Renshaw lauded the project as an "absolutely incredible transformation!", and we aim for nothing less when undergoing these types of studio installations.

Installation list

The state-of-the-art recording studio at Wakefield Grammar School is equipped with an extensive list of top-tier gear and equipment, ensuring students have access to industry-standard tools for their audio and music production education. Some of the equipment and gear used in the installation include: