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Wisseloord to rise again

The legendary Dutch studio will be rejuvenated and enhanced for future formats, and is due to reopen for business officially on 1 June 2011, writes Dave Robinson.

“A lot of people were expecting some great announcement of a merger. Sorry to disappoint you!” So began Paul Reynolds at one of the highlights of the recent AES event in San Francisco: the surprise news that Holland’s famous Wisseloord Studios – probably the largest facility in Europe – is to be relaunched.

Reynolds, who has led various initiatives with Philips including SACD and Blu-ray, heads a team that includes mastering engineers Ronald Prent and Darcy Proper of Belgium’s Galaxy Studios.

Reynolds was joined at the announcement by Prent and representatives of six leading pro-audio companies whose gear will be installed in the rejuvenated studio, namely: API, Avid, Eggleston Works, Prism Sound, PMC and SPL.

“For five years we’ve been thinking of something,” Reynolds revealed. “We’re tired of listening to everybody complaining about the state of our industry, so we’ve decided to do something: action rather than words. So we’re re-opening Wisseloord; we’re going against the trend, but that’s the idea.”

Wisseloord – opened in Hilversum in 1978 by Philips to record artists on its PolyGram label – closed its doors around a year ago following financial troubles. As well as many Dutch performers, the likes of U2, Elton John and Iron Maiden have all recorded there.

Reynolds, Prent and Proper are all financial partners in the new venture, along with several other undisclosed investors. The whole renovation process is due to take seven months: there will be a “fundamental rebuild of mastering and control rooms to bring them up to surround and future format standards”, while “the recording rooms will be enhanced but we will preserve their essential character”, says Reynolds. Wisseloord will reopen for business officially on 1 June 2011.

API Audio will be supplying a 64-channel Vision console for the project: Prent was the first customer for the Vision for his mastering suite at Galaxy in 2004. PMC AML2 and BB5-XBD-A units will provide monitoring, alongside Eggleston Works Savoy Signature speakers. SPL mastering consoles will feature in the two mastering suites, alongside over 100 channels of Prism Sound ADA-8XR converters. A 40-fader Avid (formerly Euphonix) System 5 console will also be installed in one of the new JV-Acoustics-designed control rooms; this will have over 200 DSP channels capable of surround formats up to 7.1, and, via EUCON, will control an Avid Pro Tools HD system.

“You might say we’re insane, opening a studio when others are closing,” Reynolds said at the AES gathering. “But we’ve decided to go back and look at the basics. So we have built a creative team [which is like] going back to the time when you put a large group of people together and they made a dynamic among themselves, which created great work. It’s all about the team.” This team will be extended, with more appointments to be revealed later, says Reynolds.

“A team needs good tools. So we have lined up the best we can buy. We want to be the best we can be, it’s as simple as that. We believe in the music, we believe in doing it right, and that there is still a market for that.”