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Studio report: Scrubbing up The Hall

With the opening of The Hall, the Image and Sound Factory offers a spacious new recording room in a former powder-soap manufacturing chamber within the converted building.

Located in an old soap factory outside Antwerp since 1994, Image and Sound Factory has gained an excellent reputation as an audio post-production facility, offering recording, mixing and mastering studios for movies, TV series and commercials. The building houses three studios, an editing suite and a rehearsal room – all offering plenty of daylight.
“But The Hall will bring us into another league,” explains studio engineer Matthias Hillegeer.
The 6m-high room in question, with its 77sqm of floor space, is the former powder-soap manufacturing chamber within the facility. Unused until now, it has been completely stripped and treated with acoustic materials.

“The Hall was conceived with an inspiring and cosy British-style ‘gentlemen’s lounge club’ atmosphere – with moving acoustic panels incorporated into the walls, resulting in a perfect reverb time ranging from 500 to 1,500 milliseconds,” continues Hillegeer. “Additional panels can be placed in the room when necessary.”
For Image and Sound Factory, The Hall marks the return of ‘playing music together’. “We have the impression that everything comes down to (over-)production, forgetting what it’s all about: musicians playing and inspiring each other – and we want to bring back the soul in the music,” enthuses Hillegeer.

“There aren’t too many studios with a huge hall like this one, offering room for choirs or string sections – we opt for the organic approach, away from the artificial work.”
Equipped with a range of vintage instruments like a 1963-built Hammond M100 with Leslie 760, Fender Rhodes 54 and 73 keyboards and a Yamaha C3 Grand Piano, The Hall also includes a mobile recording setup with a Pro Tools HD10 configuration. “Clients can either choose to rent the full option configuration or opt for dry hire and bring their own gear, allowing them to work with musicians in one room – that’s where we make the difference,” claims Hillegeer.
The Hall is visually and technically linked with Studio 2, a fully fledged 5.1 mixroom featuring an analogue SSL AWS900+SE console with Total Recall and AWSomation. The control room was built according to EBU and ITU standards by Danish designer Asger Bak – the monitor speaker system consists of Miller & Kreisel three MPS-2510 PK (front), two MPS-2525P (surround) and one MPS-5410 HX subwoofer meeting Dolby and THX values. “Today, recording and post-production account for 80% of our business,” underlines Image and Sound Factory’s co-owner and manager Pedro Van der Eecken. He adds that Studio 3 and the editing suite are fully booked with ‘daily drama’ projects – in other words, ‘soaps’, appropriately enough.
“With The Hall, we want to attract both new artists and freelance engineers. I’m convinced that the high technical quality of the studio and our extensive microphone collection ­Neumann, Schoeps, AKG, Sennheiser, AEA – is a major bonus. Less than one month after its opening, The Hall is looking at an occupation rate of 30%.”

Story: Marc Maes