If you’ve read the preamble to my Snap adventure, it’s likely that a mental flag has flashed into your mind – why, in the present troubled climate, should any sane person plan a new recording studio?
For years, Funky Junk has been supplying and installing equipment in studios around the world, with clients ranging from the guys next door to some of the biggest names in the business. Although we’ve been honoured to dip technical toes into some of the most exciting and expensive new builds on the planet, more often than not we’ve struggled to rectify dreadful mistakes or work around serious problems resulting from poor planning, second rate installation or shoddy work carried out by some of the so called ‘studio consultants’ who ply their trade on-line or in the pages of specialist recording magazines.
As with producing a record, building and installing a recording studio is a combination of skill, experience and vision. If the fundamentals aren’t sound, the facility will never work properly. Moreover, the waste of time, resources and nervous energy resulting from poor planning and workmanship can doom a project from the outset. Frustratingly, too many musicians or producers won’t take advice, believing they know it all already or that their mate has all the answers or, more typically, falling for a smooth talking, slippery-tongued salesman at their local gear suppliers. Most quickly learn that they’ve been had. And all too often, it’s a very, very costly lesson.
I can’t begin to detail the number of times we’ve been hauled in to rectify serious errors caused by amateurs professing to offer a professional studio design, build or install service. And as with any technical project, the expense and difficulty of putting right problems vastly outweighs the cost of getting things right from the outset.
In fact, it costs no more to do things right than to get things wrong, and the results can be spectacularly obvious.
So from a business standpoint, Snap offers an opportunity to show what Funky Junk can do on a comparative shoestring and how careful planning, budgeting and project management can slice tens of thousands of pounds from a studio budget. But there is more…
Over the course of thirty years in the recording business, I’ve developed a strong concept of what a real studio should be and how to achieve that.
First and foremost, a studio should offer a quality of sound reproduction far beyond anything that can be achieved at home or in any of the thousands of small private facilities that have sprung up around the country in recent years. Of course, one key element is the quality of equipment but this is a secondary consideration. Without sound fundamentals, the gear is irrelevant.
The key to quality recordings lies in the infrastructure – those essential elements that lie behind the scenes. Impressionable client may be seduced by rows of flashing lights in the outboard racks, polished pine in reception and the glossy nails of the receptionist, but these are in reality the froth on the cappuccino. Key to results are the quality of the mains electricity supply, the acoustics, the wiring, the monitoring and dozens of small unseen factors that in combination add up to clean, clear, well defined sonics. Put an Adat into a well-designed facility and the results will outperform the latest HD3 with Prisms in many apparently high-end studios.
Snap provides an opportunity to show just how a recording facility should be built. Moreover, it offers a means to outline how a series of small, relatively inexpensive measures can add up to a massive audio difference.
In short, the Snap adventure will provide a blueprint as to how to do things properly. And if, as I sincerely believe, the results stand comparison with more famous studios that cost tens of millions to construct, this chronicle will offer an object lesson in how we mere mortals can scrape together our modest financial resources and build a world-class facility.
But there is more. Funky Junk has always been about music rather than black boxes. The gear we sell are tools for a job – the job of making great sounding records. And even in this world of MP3’s and iPods, quality matters. Just as the best cooks don’t stint on the quality of ingredients, serious musicians and producers will always strive for the best sounding recordings their budget will allow.
Snap reborn is conceived as a facility where musicians, engineers and producers can make records without having to compromise on audio quality, irrespective of the paucity of their budget. If we get it right (and follow this diary to see whether we do), London will have a facility on an audio par with any in the world, but at a price within reach of even the most cash strapped professional.
This is a brave dream, but hopefully it can be achieved.