A top-to-bottom renovation of an old mid-’80s studio located on the second floor above Garrison Music in Fort Smith’s historic downtown. The goal was a modern studio offering musicians the ability to track the way a live band would perform, as well as having a comprehensive control room for production and overdubs. In essence, a one-stop shop for music production, video, commercial spots, and industrials—all with an “east meets the wild west” vibe that brings old-world charm into the present day.
Modernize a space in an old building with dilapidated wall panels and wood flooring; oddly shaped control room with an unbalanced frequency response (“tubby” low-mid buildup); iso booths in the live room were non-functional, (i.e. no real isolation); acoustic treatments were a product of the time the original studio was built, with materials such as burlap; in short, old-school acoustics with off-putting looks to say the least.
Owner and founder Grant Thomas, along with chief engineer Anton Rasmussen, had very specific ideas for interior design as well as equipment selection.
Like the late Sir George Martin and The Beatles, our role was that of a facilitator, helping them realize their vision, aiding in the design and fabrication of custom fixtures, and taking the lead on acoustic treatments and construction.
Starting with the physical boundaries of the control room, which had an odd diamond shape, the first order of business was to remove the two angled walls in the rear, which immediately improved the sound of the room and made room for a large client sofa. To ensure both frequency and transient response provided the realistic perception space, depth, and dynamics required for mixing, as well as the necessary excitement for tracking, predictive modeling was used to address bass trapping, absorptive panels, acoustic modules on walls and ceiling, and the Jocavi Ceraflector* diffusor on the rear wall.
* The Ceraflector is a 3D multidirectional panel that controls primary reflections and fragments them in 64 vertices, producing exceptional sound diffusion in all directions. Ceraflector panels produce a pleasingly smooth high-frequency response and provide spaces with a heightened perception of sound.
For interior décor in the control room, a powder blue velveteen fabric to replace the burlap along with Indian tapestries, and Turkish and Moroccan light fixtures were chosen by the client. To complement the light fixtures, programmable color-changing LEDs were installed to provide the proper ambiance for the project at hand. In this capacity, the white porcelain Ceraflector served double duty as a warming light reflector along with sound diffusion. Ultimately our role was to ensure that the textiles and fixtures didn’t compromise or negate control room acoustics while providing the look and feel that Grant Thomas envisioned for his ultimate recording space.
SŌL Studios’ control room is outfitted with an impressive list of high-end equipment including an API 3208 console and a lot of great outboard, including Chandler Limited Curve Bender; TG Limiter; Retro Sta-Level; Tube-Tech CL-1B, and a pair of PE 1C Pultec-style EQs; GML 8200 equalizer, Empirical Labs Distressors; API 2500 and Neve 33609 stereo bus compressors; Teletronix LA-2A and a pair of LA-3A compressors; and more. Since chief engineer Anton Rasmussen wanted to take on the challenge of equipment integration, we took on an advisory role to ensure optimal wiring implementation, ergonomics, and workflow. Of course, the crown jewel of the control room is an Augspurger Duo-15 Sub-18 Main monitors finished in Royal Blue metal flake, precisely tuned to the room by Dave Malekpour.
“What an amazing place! No detail has been overlooked. You simply will not find a better place in Arkansas or Oklahoma than SŌL Studio. I can’t express adequately how impressed I was with SŌL Studio!” — Dan Smith
“The best studio in North West Arkansas. Beautifully decorated. Knowledgeable engineers. Top of the line!” — Jonathan Morden