Recording and Production in the News
Sphere Studios celebrates 10 years by investing in 10 new ADA-8XR ConvertersCambridge, UK: Sphere Studios in London will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2011 and in preparation for this auspicious event the facility has undergone an extensive refurbishment of its aesthetics and its equipment list.
Franc Cameli at Sphere Studios
One of the key equipment upgrades has been the purchase of 10 Prism Sound ADA-8XR multi-channel modular AD/DA converters, which were supplied by Funky Junk.
Studio owner Franc Cameli says: "Upgrading our converters has been on the cards for some time, but was given impetus by our impeding 10th anniversary. We have undertaken a major overhaul of the studios and have spent a large sum of money on updating and increasing our outboard complement as well as finally investing in a full complement of Prism Sound converters in Studios One and Two.
Sphere has installed six ADA-8XRs in Studio One where they are providing 48 i/o. The remaining four are installed in Studio Two, providing 16i/48o.
Racks of ADA-8XRs
Cameli adds: "The introduction of Pro Tools HD forced us to retire our Apogee AD8000 which sounded great but only went up to 48Khz. Our first project on HD at the time was Queen, we had to transfer their entire back catalogue before mixing "Greatest Video Hits 1" in Surround. So, regretfully, we bought the only thing available to us at the time, 192s, and got on with it.
"I am always keen to improve our technical spec so we contacted Adam Crowe at Funky Junk who supplied us with several brands of HD converters to demo and carry out blind tests with our clients. The results were not subtle, the ADA-8XRs were head and shoulders above all the others, both as ADs and DAs. Once we heard them we knew we just had to have them. What really drew us to them was their openness, the size of the soundscape they offered and their transparency."
The units went straight into Sphere's racks where they have integrated seamlessly with the existing Pro Tools equipment. Sphere has also bought a standard Prism Sound ADA-8 converter.
After 10 years of running a commercial recording studio, Franc Cameli believes that the secrets to success are to offer an exceptional array of equipment in a professional but laid back environment.
"Technically speaking, we thought long and hard about how to future proof the building when we first designed it," Cameli explains. "However, having such an extensive array of outboard backline and quality mics has helped us stay ahead of our competitors, especially as all of this equipment is available to anyone who books any of the room.
When Sphere originally opened, Cameli had a studio manager running the facility but in 2005 he took over the day to day running in conjunction with Simon Bohannon.
He says: "We have done the impossible and turned it round to the point where currently all of our rooms are full all of the time. If I had more rooms I'd probably fill those too. We just do our thing here, and our clients seem to love it. I think most of it comes from having fantastic staff. Nothing is ever a problem here and we just try to keep things as flexible as possible so that we can suit the individual needs of all our clients."
As part of its upgrade, Sphere has completely reworked the layout of both of the larger studios taking care to leave the acoustics as they were. Studio One now has smaller equipment racks that have been strategically placed so that all crucial gear is close to the engineer. Studio Two has a new SSL 4000G+ console - one of the last real 4000 to be made and, according to Cameli, in superb condition. Both rooms have new colour schemes and feel much bigger and fresher.
"The studios are now stunning and have a lot more vibe," Cameli adds. "We have solved the ergonomic issues that surfaced from the original design and I finally have a complex which is very much me."
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