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Studio Tanta breathes new life into analogue recording in Tokyo

Studio Tanta breathes new life into analogue recording in Tokyo

Studio Tanta breathes new life into analogue recording in Tokyo

Following a 3-year construction period, Studio Tanta has opened on a prominent junction overlooking Yoyogi Park in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. The 7-storey facility signifies a return to the days of analogue recording in large rooms, two of which feature API consoles. Larry Droppa, API president, and Dan Zimbelman, director of sales for the US manufacturer, were present at the grand opening ceremony in June, conducting API workshops with legendary engineer/producer, Ron Saint Germain.

Tanta is the first large-scale studio to have been purpose built in the Japanese capital for decades. Acoustic design and installation specialist, Nihon Onkyo, sourced an assortment of Japanese hard wood, metal and stone to ensure the two main studios and live rehearsal room were treated in accordance with the client’s brief. The first API Legacy AXS in Japan has been installed into the 35m2 control room of Studio A, while an automated 32-channel 1608 has gone into the smaller Studio B. The sale was handled by API’s Japanese distributor, Mixwave, headed by Hiro Saika.

‘We may become nostalgic when remembering the big studios of the 1980s, but we did not want to recreate the dead spaces that characterised them,’ explained Tanta’s studio division manager, Tomoyuki Fukuda, a former recording engineer at EMI Studios. ‘We opted for an RT of 0.6s, offering a tiny amount of reverberation, to give the studios a little life and character. I recall the Rolling Stones rehearsing some acoustic tracks for a session at EMI over 10 years ago. Ultimately, three of the tracks from that session made it onto the final cut as the engineer, Ed Churney, really liked the acoustics of Studio Three there. I suppose this thinking provided some inspiration in the design of Tanta.’

While on a research trip to visit prominent studios in the US, Mr Fukuda discovered a number of common denominators including high control room ceilings, lively acoustics and API consoles. ‘Tokyo’s main studios are primarily fitted with Neve or SSL boards, but I was looking for something different to characterise and distinguish Tanta,’ he continued. ‘I was fortunate to meet many famous engineers in the US who introduced me to API’s legendary analogue sound, and from there I made contact with the factory near Baltimore. It’s encouraging to see artists in the US still preferring the warmth and depth of analogue audio.’ 

Located on level three, the 64m2 live area of Studio A can host a small orchestra and also offers a further four booths. In the control room, the API Legacy AXS console provides an all-analogue signal path, its 48 channels offering dual input capability and access to two API 200 Series module slots, while the traditional 1.5-inch module width allows API 500 Series equalisers to be used on a per-channel basis. A complete central section includes six automated stereo echo returns with motorised faders, 5.1 surround monitoring and a built-in 2500C stereo bus compressor. Other equipment includes DAD AX32 converters and an extensive selection of outboard equipment including Neve 1081 and 1073 combined mic/line preamp/equalisers, a dbx 160SL compressor limiter, a Manley Massive Passive stereo equaliser, a Tube-Tech CL1B optical mono compressor and a GML 2032 mic preamp.

The L-C-R main monitor system is comprised of custom Augspurger dual 15-inch speakers, with Amphion nearfield monitoring. An impressive selection of vintage microphones is on hand, including Neumann U47s, U67s and U87s together with AKG C414EB, C451B and D12 standards, an Electro-Voice RE-20 and a selection of Microtech Gefell condenser cardioids, including the larger UM930 and the smaller M300 diaphragms. 

Studio B, where the API 1608 takes pride of place, is installed with a smaller but similar inventory of monitoring, outboard, microphone and instrument equipment.

Other facilities at Studio Tanta include a restaurant, artists’ lounge and rehearsal space in the basement known as Studio C. This extensive space is equipped with an automated 8.6m-wide stage riser designed for live performances and has been installed with two DiGiCo SD10 consoles for monitoring and FOH mixing, respectively, and a Nexo PS15 and Coda Audio ViRAY 3-way speaker systems. The lighting truss is controlled from an Avolites Arena console. Everything, then, that a band could possibly need, from initial tracklaying through to tour preparation. 

Look out for a full-length feature on Studio Tanta in a future issue of Pro AVL Asia magazine. Subscribe at or read online for free at 

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