(Will add some photos tomorrow)
Been a while since I’ve had time to write on this blog.
Last Time I wrote I was on my way to Beirut, Lebanon. It turned out to be a great trip I will fondly remember.
The client, Walid, has been a very nice host. We first spent a couple days assessing what could be done to upgrade his studio in Beirut.
Walid’s studio construction had been stopped a few months before when he noticed there were major problems with the design he was using: he noticed major calculation mistakes and basically lost trust in the original designer of his studio. So he brought us in to try and assess the extent of the damage, what could be salvaged of what’s already been built and what needed to be basically rebuilt from scratch.
Not an easy task for us and not a fun time for him. But I must say he struck me as a very positive person that just wants to go forward with his build and do it right. I admire how he kept calm throughout the whole evaluation procedure. Example: it’s not a good day when you learn that the already poured floating floor was miscalculated by a factor of 10 (basically, not calculated at all we think).
The decoupling interface is to be loaded with the equivalent 125kN/M² while it’s in reality loaded at about 10% of that. Hence, the floor is de facto coupled and there are LF noise problems among other potential nasty side-effects. There were also geometric and LF management issues with the Control Room shells. Basically a lot to correct.
Hopefully we’ll be able to salvage a maximum of things and bring the studio to a good quality standard wihtout having to tear it down completely. Silvia is currently working on the upgrade and by thinking out of the box when possible is finding viable solutions (a very good but difficult exercise). Though sadly, a couple rooms will have to be destroyed and rebuilt from scratch.
Lesson of the day: always make sure your designer gives you a guarantee on results. And do not be scared to ask him / her to see calculation sheets or to explain in detail how this or that was calculated. While given the explanation, there should be no hesitation from the designer. The calculation sheet should be readily available, too. A rough floating floor calculation can be made on the fly easily, because … It’s easy.
If you ask Silvia or I about a recent design (within the last 3 years) we can probably go over about all the various aspects in detail from memory – we spent hundreds of hours on the project, calculating, drawing, detailing every bit of it. It’s tattooed in our brains. If you ask about a project from 5 years ago, we’ll likely still be able to remember most of the technical aspects of it too. So a designer that hesitates too much is one that hasn’t done the job thoroughly.
No guarantee, no cookie. Personally, I don’t see why a stability engineer gives 10 to 20 years guarantee on a building structure and an Acoustician / Studio Designer should not guarantee any of his work.
Back to Beirut.
Once done with the studio part, Walid was kind enough to drive me around his beautiful country. We visited a Castle in the mountain, a couple breathtaking grotto, a religious sanctuary, the amazing Roman era city of Byblos. I also got to meet some of Walid’s friends and had a great time discussing music and life with them and playing games in the car while driving windy Lebanese mountain roads. Good people, good times. I admired their positive attitude and happiness living in what is too often a very difficult environment where war, violence, oppression and political crisis are daily news.
Because of the War in Syria and heavy tensions in Lebanon, I had registered to the French Foreign information services, and on the morning of my last day there I received a text from the embassy requesting all French citizens to leave the country unless their presence in Lebanon was absolutely necessary. It made me feel sad. I eventually left the same evening on my scheduled flight without any problem. And I am glad today that things seems to still be ok there so far – even if the civil war in Syria is a major threat to land-locked Lebanon.
I hope I can fly back at one point in the near future, say hello to Walid and check out with him how the upgrade turned out. If you read this, thank you Walid.
About 3 weeks of intense work in the office in Brussels followed, working on all current design projects long hours. Travelled to Paris a couple times to visit the Red Bulls Studios and get feedback from Thibault Javoy, the current resident engineer. Good guy. Serious and very much up to the task.
Flew to L.A. Late September to visit the OWLSA building, check various detail on site and have a meeting with the OWSLA team. The project isn’t an easy one, but I’m glad we could find ways around a few issues with the building. As usual, the OWSLA team was fantastic. Great guys to hang out with. Hong, the structural engineer working with us on the project is a very good one too – old school with tons of experience. Since I’m not used to working in major seismic areas, it’s very important that I can interact with an engineer that takes the time to explain to me how they manage these aspects of things in a building structure – and I’ve learned a lot thanks to him. We can now readily apply these design methods to our floating shells designs and be fully compliant from the first proposal.
It reminds me of my first projects in The Netherlands almost a decade ago, where I had to learn how to design structures on deep poles / pillar foundations that are suitable for areas with a lot of water in the ground or subject to unstable grounds.
While in L.A. I also met a couple times with Dennis Darcy of the DDCG, whose team built Bonati Mastering for us in NYC and did a great job. Dennis was kind enough to fly over to L.A. From NYC to visit both our projects sites there for a first evaluation of build costs.
Since I was in L.A. for the week-end too, I drove to Big Bear Mountain and spent three days with friends for a good friend’s birthday, which is also the occasion for an annual reunion. Always nice to take a few days off, cook and discuss things around a drink and be able to have a nice long hike on the local mountain trails too. A healthy break for work and a good way to manage the always difficult jet lag of 9 hours when coming from Brussels/Paris. It’s never easy. Tried various options, but in the end, you only catch up of about an hour a day…
Flew back to Paris/Brussels on Monday.
Got back to work at the office for a couple of weeks with only a few local trips, concentrating on the on-going projects: Hannes Haindl in Hamburg, final detail work on OWSLA, upgrade for Walid in Beirut, SOAP Studios in Brussels, JPCC in Jakarta and KMS Mastering in Switzerland.
I then flew to NYC for AES mid October or so. As usual, good times. It’s not only a good opportunity to network, but also to meet with friends, former clients, future or on-going clients and get a feel of how healthy the industry is. Ever since I started attending AES NY (we don’t go to the San Francisco one, only every second year in NYC) I noticed the event was getting smaller every time. Except this year, where it was healthier than I’ve ever seen. It felt good. There were a lot of interesting new products.
While there I was introduced to Studio Designer Wes Lachot by a friend. I never had a chance to meet Wes before. We had a very nice and relaxed chat. The world of full time Studio Designers is so very small, it’s always good to meet each other and exchange stories & ideas. Wes had never been in a FTB room, so we visited Bonati Mastering together – the occasion to chat a bit more. Geekie times. We’ll certainly bump into each other again in the near future.
Richard Newman, one of the main engineer at ATC Loudspeakers also dropped by Bonati Mastering. The guys at ATC always impress me – they definitely know what they’re talking about.
I very much enjoy these evenings spent in a studio listening to tracks and exchanging impressions – but doing this with a Loudspeaker Engineer, a Mastering / Vinyl cutting Engineer and a classical music recording Engineer all in the same room is a particularly rare occurrence.
Back in Brussels a few days later, Silvia and I really had a lot of work so the office was pretty much the equivalent of a Monastery. Barely a few sentences exchanged during our long days behind calculation sheets and AUTOCAD.
And this is pretty much where we’re at still. Working in a Monastery-like office.
Though, Wednesday we’re off to Paris to meet the OWSLA Team & Skrillex to discuss the project and hang out – Skrillex plays Paris that night and driving from Brussels to Paris is easy. Should be a fun evening!
We’ve got a few build that will start in the coming weeks, so I’ll have a few interesting studio build pictures to add to the Blog and on FB. Right now, they’re either awaiting permits or in the early “space clean-up” stages.
We have a lot of new projects coming in as well. We just started to work on a second project with the guys @ Benzene Music in Paris, we are discussing a very interesting project in China (Shanghai) for a European Post-Production company – designing a couple FTB rooms and edit rooms there, we’re discussing a FTB Mastering Room in the UK, and various FTB based facilities in Australia, USA, Canada & The Netherlands. We’re also discussing with a very interesting Belgian company about providing certification services for their specific Audio Systems.
A lot on the table.