Professional Sound - February 2018 - Page 39

shame to have such a nice room and not use it, and when you have a band in there, it’s really fun to be in the middle and it’s easier to interact as well, but it was kind of tricky to design and I knew I needed help.” Enter designer/acoustician Nicolas Grou, who has designed a variety of recording spac- es in Montreal and was referred to Kelly by Guillaume Chartrain, co-producer on some of the artist’s past records. External noise wasn’t an issue, Kelly explains. “There’s no one around and no real noise from outside and I didn’t want to be in a bubble. Sometimes I actually have the windows open when I’m recording and it’s fine; you only hear the birds and the wind in the trees.” Substantial interior acoustic treatment was required to ensure the room was live sounding in one direction and as dead as possible in the other, where his speakers faced. The latter part of the space is where the room’s main bass traps are located. “Nick came with his team to do the acoustic treat- ment and it’s pretty damned good. This year I scored my first movie [2017’s Innocent]. Not a production with a really big budget and we mixed the movie at my place, too, with my surround system. Because of the size of the room, it can actually sound like a small movie theatre.” Soon, he’ll begin work on his second full-length feature film project: a partial biopic of Celine Dion produced by Orange Médias. “Obviously, we started with this big box of cement, so I think I had a nine-second re- verb in here before we treated the walls.” Built largely below ground, on average the walls are between 2 and 3 ft. thick and packed with a substantial amount of Roxul Safe ‘n’ Sound insulation. “If you aim sound at the back end of the studio, it just dies out in the massive, custom built bass traps, but when you place a source in the dead corners and put a mic in the other part of the room, it’s got a nice reverb. “For [the bass traps] we used the same insulation and hung it on wooden frames, so it’s suspended like coats in a closet,” Kelly says, adding that after analyzing the fre- quency content of the room with Rational Acoustics’ Smaart acoustic measurement software, “It was pretty much flat down to 25 or 30 Hz. So it’s really a great environment to mix in, in my opinion.” Additional absorption was achieved by applying industrial-grade black landscaping fabric on top of the concrete and below the rough pine that lines the studio walls. “It was cheaper than any other fabric,” Kelly says, “and I wanted an industrial look – the look and feel of the unfinished wood and steel trim. “We didn’t really worry about the floors and ceilings at first,” he continues, explaining that given the radiant water heating for the floor, he preferred to keep it bare and add a few area rugs here and there. “And, as Nick ex- plained to me, the high frequencies are easier to get rid of. It’s the low end that’s problem- atic and more expensive to deal with. Then the ceiling is the steel that they laid the concrete on top of and, again, I wanted to keep that industrial look with the exposed H beams.” There are fabric clouds on the ceiling, but the amount of absorp- tion applied to the walls enabled Grou and Kelly to keep them fairly low impact, visually speaking. “They’re made of the same material [we used on the walls] and are as thin as possible to avoid blocking any of the windows. It’s a rare thing in a studio to have all that natural light and I think if you’re going to spend all that time in there, at some point, it’s something you really crave.” After the initial treatment, Kelly f