The sun shone, the Leffe flowed… and the biggest story in European recording for years completed its first chapter.
In Hilversum, a town synonymous with audio broadcast heritage, Wisseloord Studios held an open day last month to celebrate full operational capacity following a 14-month renaissance. For once, the dream had come true.
Among the guests were representatives of all the technology suppliers and infrastructure designers behind the re-bored interior. These were the teams that had contributed to the vision: the creation of, above all, a music recording studio that combined the finest in analogue acoustics and signal processing with the very latest in digital control. Avid, api, PMC, Prism Sound, Krell, EgglestonWorks, SPL, JV Acoustics, Grimm Audio for some custom cabling, Media Furniture and even Antelope – for the atomic clocks – duly took their bows as leading acolytes Ronald Prent, Darcy Proper and Paul Reynolds greeted the plaudits and congratulations of an admiring crowd.
During some emotional speeches, as the scale of the achievement came into perspective and the relief of fruition welled, Reynolds, who is Wisseloord’s commercial director, acknowledged the operations staff, office management, financial controllers and catering support so essential to a successful studio. He then thanked the families of all those involved in the reconstruction of Wisseloord, adding: “We promise we’ll come home in a couple of days…”
Introducing the media department, in which the studio’s musical credentials are applied to all forms of web, disc and on-air content, Reynolds continued: “This studio isn’t just about recording and mixing. We’re about music in all its forms, including mastering and the placement of music in all media.” Reynolds also acknowledged the unique role played by one supplier in this giant gateway between two physical words. “You will see Prism Sound converters all throughout this studio,” he said. “And we believe that this is the highest concentration of Prism’s conversion technology anywhere in the world.”
A special mention was also made of German acoustician Jochen Veith, who oversaw the complete acoustic refit of the mastering rooms and the studio control rooms with molecular attention to detail. “Jochen developed each control room together with PMC,” Reynolds pointed out, “which is a very rare opportunity. As soon as we switched on the systems in each room we knew that this combination was something very special.”
Pointing out wryly that a mastering engineer with a microphone was a “very bad combination”, director of mastering Darcy Proper went on to pay tribute not only to the original architect of the building erected in 1978, who was present, but also to every individual designer, builder, craftsman and contractor who had sculpted the new interior “with their bare hands”.
Guests were able to audition material in Studio One and its Avid-Euphonix System 5 desk plus 5.1 PMC monitoring; in the ‘blue room’ – Studio Two – with its api Vision console and PMC monitoring; and in Darcy Proper’s ‘red room’ mastering suite where the EgglestonWorks monitors preside, powered by five Krell Evolution 400e monaural amplifiers. The room also features customised Sound Performance Lab mastering consoles and outboard.
Creative director Ronald Prent, well known from his years at Galaxy Studios in Belgium and as a renowned recording and mix engineer on countless European projects, was presented with a specially mounted green recording light from the original studio by former studio manager Bart Sloothaak. “Bart is from the glory days,” said Prent, “and this was a way of recognising that I was following in his footsteps. It’s that kind of gesture that makes me understand that, here at Wisseloord, we really are part of a large family.”