In 2015 Christian Mevs, member of the band Slime, sound engineer and founder of the Soundgarden Recording Studio Hamburg, asked Studio Singer to consult him on the development of his new recording studio in the former GDR Fahrbereitschaft Berlin Lichtenberg with respect to room acoustics, building acoustics and design. To me that was a lucky coincidence.
Ten years earlier, I enjoyed an internship at the Walters-Storyk Design Group. I had worked on a series of recording studios for happy Grammy winners. After that internship I digressed from room acoustics. However, based on a constant liking for craftsmanship and acoustically as well as aesthetically successful spaces, me and my friends recently set up a studio for architectural acoustics. Christian's project became my dearly wanted return to the design of recording studios.
We started with the job by looking for a suitable building in the Fahrbereitschaft area and assessed the sound insulation of several buildings. Therefore we bought a big speaker and connected it to our measurement amp. The pink noise excitation signal that arose was heard blocks away. As such it was the well defined (most witnesses reported an alluring music concrete) start-up sound of this two year project. Based on these measurements and other factors, Christian went for a floor in a red brick factory building from the early 20th century. Sylvain Livache, sound engineer and owner of the label Twaague, joined the studio's user group and therefore two control rooms were planned around a recording room.
The initial concept for insulating the recording room was complemented with valuable solutions by the Berlin-based office of Krämer & Stegmaier. The proportions of the recording room were designed to fulfill the ITU-R 1116-1 recommendation for optimal (aka golden) room ratios. As regards the acoustics we aimed at -- in physical terms -- a high degree of diffusion and a moderate frequency-independent reverberation time. This led to -- in general terms – an immersive but airy room experience, where transients dissolve gently and notes unite. The undulating surfaces suppress flutter echoes and include huge plate absorbers for attenuating low frequency energy. Three walls are equipped with a diffusor for mid to high frequencies. The porous absorbers are spread evenly and are covered by acoustically transparent fabric.
The Life-End-Dead-End building principle and the ITU-R 1116-1 recommendation determined the design of both control rooms. The asymmetric floor plans were countered by low order reflection control. Although both rooms are shaped for stereo, Christian's studio is additionally equipped with a spherical ambisonics system. The control rooms offer each an analogue signal chain with selected equipment.
In order to create an optimal integration of acoustical modules, these were each calculated and subsequently built by skilled carpenters and musicians. During that process, we became experts in theory and execution of the production of arrays of Helmholtzresonators, plate absorbers as well as geometric and phase grating based diffusors.
The interior design is meant to give a salon like atmosphere, which is distinctive but not distractive to the musician. Although not entirely completed, we celebrate this project on the 29th of April and wish Christian and Sylvain all the best!