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Soundzipper tightens production at The Analog Factory

Soundzipper tightens production at The Analog Factory

Soundzipper tightens production at The Analog Factory

Singapore: The Analog Factory was established by Keith Chia to provide local musicians with a ‘world class’ recording facility and offer musical backline services. To ensure that the studio reached world class status, Mr Chia called in acoustic consultancy Soundzipper.

‘Soundzipper was approached for the project because of our expertise dealing with recording/mastering studio builds,’ said Soundzipper’s principal acoustic engineer, Adrian Lo. ‘We are one of the few music facility acoustic designers in Singapore that are able to design and execute complete room in a room designs with custom interior acoustics. I also started out in the music industry as a film composer. Working on electronic music projects gave me good insight into what musicians and engineers want out of studios.’

Mr Chia specified that the space should be large enough and suitable to house rock bands and mid-sized musical group recordings. The studio control room was to have a shorter reverberation time than the live room with a flat frequency response extending down to 40Hz. The longer bass reverberation in the live room was to achieve a warmer ambience. The visual look was also of importance, and following four months and three interior designers, Mr Lo worked with Mr Chia on making sure the aesthetics would not be compromised.

‘For recording studios, Soundzipper often takes an extreme hands-on approach due to the intricacies involved,’ explained Mr Lo. ‘After all, one pin-sized hole in an acoustic partition wall can reduce its effectiveness by half. Our typical studio design process involves dividing the studio into two shells. The outer shell handles sound isolation while the inner shell is built according to the acoustic requirements of the owner.

‘For the outer shell, we went for an STC rating of 60 between the live room and control room areas,’ he continued. ‘This involved the installation of 300mm thick walls that used specialised acoustic damping material. Our control room window design also involved two acoustically decoupled panes of laminated glass that maximised acoustic performance. For the inner shell, we create separate designs for the control room and live room.’

The design for the control room focused on accuracy. ‘We chose an RFZ design after extensive discussion with Keith,’ Mr Lo noted. ‘We custom designed broadband absorbers composed of membrane traps and Basotect melamine foam. These were coupled with some vicoustic panels and was placed to the right and left walls. To blend the look of the two kinds of panels we added a vanity screen in front in the form of a black acoustically transparent perforated aluminium mesh. The front wall was treated with 100mm thick acoustic fabric panel absorbers while the back wall was composed of Vicoustic Multifuser. The ceiling itself had angled wood wool panels used for absorption.’

Accuracy was less important in the live room where the aim was to create an acoustically fun space for musicians to jam. ‘The live room is relatively small,’ said Mr Lo. ‘We wanted to ensure that every 10 steps or so, a musician playing their instrument will hear something cool acoustically. To achieve this, we created a design that made the room sound progressively "deader" the further in you walk. We had wood slat absorbers on two of the walls to keep to the aesthetic that Keith wanted while providing good bass frequency absorption. The ceiling utilised wood wool acoustic panels hung at various random angles and heights that changed both the sonic and visual feel of the space as you walked through.

‘Our final tested design achieved reverberation times were in the 0.3s range for the control room and 0.6s range for the live room,’ the acoustic engineer confirmed.

Soundzipper was unable to implement everything in its original design due to budget. ‘World class recording studios do not come cheap,’ said Mr Lo. ‘There were many things that we wanted to do that did not make the cut for the final studio – such as a reverberation chamber made completely out of cracked glass. In the end, taking some elements out was a good thing as it allowed us to simplify the design of the space so that the essential core of the space shone through.’

The Analog Factory is now open for artists and Mr Chia certainly appreciates Soundzipper’s contributions to the space. ‘There's no Analog Factory without Soundzipper,’ he said.

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