Music Industry News Network [01-03-2007]

RBDG Designs Home Studio For Emerging Record Label



When composer, arranger and freelance bassist John Evans set out to incorporate a recording studio into the construction of his new home in Ft. Worth Texas, he contacted Russ Berger, president of Russ Berger Design Group (RBDG), for advice on where to start. Evans has worked on projects for companies such as Sports Illustrated and Time-Life, in addition to working with jazz saxophonist David Sanborn on the Grammy-nominated album, "Hideaway." Most recently, Evans started his own recording label, Studio Records, and was looking to create a high quality studio comparable to those found in LA and New York, but with all the comforts of home.

"Being familiar with Russ' history of designing world-class facilities, such as Sony Music, I called him, hoping to get some advice on how to avoid making any serious mistakes in the building of a 'home studio,'" Evans explains. "Russ and his wife, Elisa, met with my wife, Sandy, and me, for dinner at our home. We liked each other immediately and, since that day, have remained close friends."

With home studios and practice spaces growing in popularity, Berger believes it is dependent upon the designer to make the studio perform and look like a millions dollars, but with a significantly lower budget. "All studios are a series of compromises. The key to a successful result is making intelligent choices and managing the design and construction process. Careful programming early on in the process is imperative to accurately determine the needs, goals and constraints of the project."

Carefully weighing Evans' needs and budget, RBDG designed a 1,700 sq. ft. facility, which includes a control room, isolation booth, studio, machine room and lounge area. Among the challenges facing the RBDG team were isolation from outside noise and ensuring the studio's exterior blended seamlessly with the rest of the home.

"Even in a quiet residential setting, such mundane things as the next door neighbor's kid mowing the lawn can become a significant problem," Berger continues. "In John's case, for example, there were HVAC condensing units to deal with right outside one wall of the studio, and the front of the house was only 35 feet from the street, which also contributed to the noise. These sound issues were overcome by clever use of residential construction techniques to achieve the acoustical and aesthetic goals of the project. Treated appropriately, they are now inaudible in the studio."

Along with double wall isolated construction, cap ceiling and field-fabricated absorption, diffusion, and reflecting finishes, RBDG's design incorporated prefabricated SpaceArray diffusion units (designed and manufactured by pArtScience for Auralex Acoustics). The lounge area and machine room were located closer to the front of the house to act as additional buffer between the sound critical rooms and the street. The exterior walls of the south side of the house were made 15 feet high to provide the volume needed for the studio and control room acoustics, and to help incorporate the studio into the rest of the home's exterior.

The space also houses a Precision Kinetics 5.1 Surround Sound Monitoring System developed by RBDG's Johnson Knowles. Evans wanted an uncompromised custom monitoring system, but was unable to find what he was looking for in commercial products with regard to precision monitoring accuracy and low fatigue factor. The Precision Kinetics monitor systems are custom matched to the client and room, and utilize the best component parts available. Knowles has been building custom systems for many years, and the results are sonically stunning.

"The acoustics of the space combined with the monitoring system create an atmosphere where I can actually hear the music as it is intended to sound," Evans states. "The monitoring system provides a transparent, musical sound that translates so well to any other environment that I can approach each project I undertake with confidence."

Evans has recently completed the first album under the Studio Records label, DREAM, featuring a group of studio musicians performing a collection of Evans' instrumental compositions. DREAM has quickly achieved #1 status on CD Baby ( While working on the project, Evans found that in addition to sounding great, the space also helped to foster creativity. "Every single musician working on the project commented that they loved the 'vibe' in the studio," Evans says. "As a producer, that's exactly the feeling you want your session people to have when working on a creative project."


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