RA The Book The Recording Architecture Book Of Studio Design HOT!
I first met Roger D'Arcy and Hugh Flynn of Recording Architecture five years ago. Like many SOS readers contemplating a studio build, I had read most of the books and visited endless studio design web sites over many years. However, my budget studio idea had grown out of proportion. Instead of building myself a mix room, I had found a business partner and a building, and decided to build four or more studios in the space. The reasoning behind this was that by renting out the other rooms I could subsidise my own room and share costs. I had found people interested in renting by selling them the idea that not only would they be 'proper' but also heated! However, as I got closer to starting the studio build, I began to question how much I actually knew about studio design, and although I had read widely, there still seemed a conflict of ideas as to what constitutes good studio architecture. I decided I needed professional help, so I rang round a few studio designers, and contacted people I knew who had studios and asked their advice. One name that kept coming up was Recording Architecture.
RA The Book The Recording Architecture Book Of Studio Design
There then followed what I can only describe as an inspirational two hours. Roger and I talked about what we hoped to achieve and how best to go about it. He then hand-sketched a basic plan, with many quick alterations, in pencil. This was to become the blueprint of the The Laundry Rooms. He managed to squeeze in five studios and a central, shared live room. Halfway through the consultation I had already agreed to him doing the design and drawing for the studios, although we would manage the build. Over the next week Roger finished the design, and Hugh Flynn produced a sheaf of drawings covering every aspect of the build.
It is the quality of these drawings that you can see in their newly published book, along with great photos of many of the studios Recording Architecture have produced over their almost 25-year history. This book is not a lightweight publication. It measures 10.5 by 15 inches. It has over 140 plans, 330 details, and drawings, and 150 full colour photos over its 350 pages. This is a book that would grace any coffee table with confidence. The quality of the printed page is superb, but no more than you would expect of a book of this nature. It is easy to see why it has a high cover price. But what does it offer the average SOS reader?
As well as many full-colour photos, the book is also packed with beautifully clear and helpful drawings.The first half of the book deals with projects RA have worked on over the last quarter of a century. This it does with plans, photos and brief narratives, major projects being dealt with in more detail. These cover studios of all shapes and sizes, from private and in-house studios to major commercial facilities, mastering and cutting rooms, post-production and film mix rooms, as well as educational facilities. Of particular interest to me are the many privately owned studios, some in weird and wonderful places! However, this just whets your appetite for the second half of the book, entitled Work Stages, which covers all aspects of studio design and build. Brief descriptions are followed by Hugh Flynn's precise and easy-to-follow drawings. Having worked from drawings just like these, I can attest to their clarity and ease of use. These are well thought-out plans that you can follow yourself or present to any qualified builder to use. I particularly like the instructions of what timber stud work should not look like on page 214!
So will this be the ultimate guide to improving your studio? Well, it might inspire you to go and self-build, but is just as likely to make you consider employing an architect for your project. As an insight into the work of RA over the last 23 years, it is a well-polished tribute. As a stand-alone book on studio architecture, it is superb. As a reference book, it's something that no college that teaches architectural acoustics should be without. I'm leaving my copy in the studio lobby, where hopefully it will become dog-eared and well thumbed, an inspiration to any young engineer who wants to do what I did: build a Recording Architecture studio!
For the price of a good quality plug-in, you can get a unique reference book that can help you understand recording studios and how you may be able to develop yours. It will also give you something to read when rendering files while you wait for the new edition of SOS to come out.
In July 2004, I reviewed Jim Cogan and William Clark's Temples of Sound: Inside the Great Recording Studios, a collection of the business histories of 15 US recording studios. Each chapter covered a particular studio, focusing on its role in the careers of the recording artists most associated with that studio; eg, United Western Recorders and the Beach Boys.Whereas Temples of Sound was more about the music business than about recording studios, RA—The Book: The Recording Architecture Book of Studio Design is a lavish, premium coffee-table book about cutting-edge contemporary architecture in the design of recording and mastering studios and postproduction facilities. The 125 projects detailed within vary in size from home studios to commercial spaces that can accommodate a full orchestra. All of these facilities have been designed and built, over the past 25 years, by the British firm Recording Architecture Limited, which published the book.The locations range from the US to India, with the greatest concentration in Europe. RA's client list includes Rick Astley, Neneh Cherry, Lenny Kravitz, Manfred Mann, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Sade, Ronnie Wood—and Adrian Kerridge, who wrote the foreword and was a colleague of the legendary Joe Meek, whose career progressed from the Dave Clark Five to recording music for major film studios.The book's production values are in sync with its subject matter. The paper stock is very heavy and the layout is restful, with lots of white space. The photography, by Neil Waving, is first-class. When this large-format book is opened, its 21" by 15" expanse approximates the Golden Rectangle of classical landscape painting—and indeed there are several dramatic two-page spreads. The first such spread, of the Hulgrave Hall Studio control room, made me say "Wow!" out loud. All told, there are more than 140 project plans, 330 details and drawings, and 150 color photographs in a hardcover book weighing 7.7 lbs.RA—The Book is divided into five sections; projects are grouped by genres such as "Private and In-House Music Studios" and "Mastering and Cutting (Editing)," followed by a vitally important section that lays out the "Work Stages" for studio design and construction. The Work Stages move from the structural modification of an existing building and sound isolation through electrical service, HVAC and HVAC noise control, acoustical treatments, audio-cable management, lighting, and fitting out. In the Technical Appendix there is even a full-page project timeline, and a complete Request for Proposals for an installation at Pinewood Studios.In the preface, the publisher says, "This is not a theoretical guide but a detailed presentation of tried and tested techniques as applied to real, built projects—in many of the case studies, the actual drawings issued for construction are reproduced." Among these are drawings of Recording Architecture's distinctive studio furniture.Practical advice abounds. My two favorite bits of wisdom: "never use wood-laminate flooring in a studio"—it doesn't wear well in high-traffic areas such as behind the console, and its acoustical reflections have an unpleasantly thin and hollow sonic signature; and "never over-do acoustical absorption"—it will make your room sound dead. The Technical Appendix depicts, describes, and gives sources for specialized acoustical materials of all sorts.A continuing thread is the use of dimensional acoustical treatments as a signature element of a studio's visual design. I applaud that. Over and above the acoustical risks of "misguided over-application" of fabric-wrapped flat acoustical panels, too many flat, beige panels can make a music studio look like an office cubicle.Early on, Recording Architecture's work became known by the distinctive, large-hole design motif of their engineered acoustical treatments. In time, grids of large holes came to be replaced by slots. Perceiving a need for semi-stock acoustical treatments for clients who lacked the budget for a from-scratch design, RA's subsidiary, Black Box, offers two grades of semi-stock panels made to order.RA—The Book is so exhaustively complete that there is even a section at the end where principal photographer Neil Waving discusses his equipment and techniques, paying particular attention to two photographic examples. (Well, they did say that nothing would be held back!) The Technical Appendix on the physics of sound, complete with a full-page table of the frequencies of musical notes and their first seven harmonic overtones, is just about the clearest introduction to these important concepts I have seen.As I looked at all the photographs of studio control rooms, I noticed that, while there were monitoring loudspeakers from PMC and ADAM, ATC monitors predominated. An important part of RA's approach to studio design is that monitoring loudspeakers should be placed on massive supports. In that regard, RA faults professional audio for lagging behind high-end consumer audio.Who will want to buy this book? Architects, acousticians, whole-home systems integrators, and ultra-high-end audio salons, for starters. Any well-heeled audiophile thinking of building a large, dedicated music room will also benefit.The $215 price is the equivalent of two hours (or less) of consulting time from a genuine expert. If your interest in recording studios is anything more than idle curiosity, RA—The Book is a bargain. And if you're merely curious, $215 for a coffee-table book might be a bit steep, but that's your call. Highly recommended.—John Marks Log in or register to post comments COMMENTS Book Submitted by Gubarenko on November 13, 2013 - 11:14am Book looks really awesome, but i've ordered my copy from Amazon through here 350c69d7ab