Project Closeup: Criterion Acoustics Designs a Dual-Purpose Studio for Human Worldwide
In New York City, nobody wants to waste a single square foot. Music company Human Worldwide is getting the most out of composer/founder Andy Bloch’s studio, owing to an innovative two-rooms-in-one design by Criterion Acoustics (CA).
Human has established itself as a top player, writing original music and sound design for advertising, film, TV and interactive media, sporting a client list that includes Nike, Diet Coke, Google, Adidas, Delta Airlines and many more global brands. When Bloch’s original studio was ravaged by a fire, he seized the opportunity to quicken his workflow by combining his control room and live room into one space.
“We’re seeing more and more demand for multipurpose rooms – in this case, it’s for composing and recording,” says Dave Kotch, Co-founder of Criterion Acoustics. “People do it because it saves on space, so it saves on cost. Also, music creators don’t always need a live room. There are fewer live instruments being used in sessions, so combining a control room with a live room makes sense.”
Bloch chose Criterion Acoustics to execute an upgrade in the sound, functionality and aesthetics of his Union Square facility, where he routinely records multiple live instruments, then has to execute a quick mix. “We had a live room and production room, but they never sounded good,” Bloch says. “It became more of a hassle to go get a drum mic then to dial up a sample, so the live space became a storage room and a mess. After the fire I said, ‘Let’s do it right.’ It was now or never.
“This is a laptop-based virtual industry, but to have a live room and record real music is the way that I came up. It’s a great asset, and you ultimately make better music in that kind of environment.”
Making it Multipurpose
Criterion Acoustics designed a comprehensive program for the studio, including full internal room acoustics, sound isolation from the existing rooms and mechanical noise control.
The project’s major challenge was to make one side of the room suitable for recording, while the other would be highly accurate for mixing. “For any kind of live room, especially when you’re recording drums, you want a reverberant room sound,” explains Sam Neff, Co-Founder of Criterion Acoustics. “Whereas in a critical listening environment, you want it to be flat so you can get an accurate mix.
“You don’t want a real live mix room with any reflections, because then everything you mix is going to end up sounding dead. We made it flat on the side he mixes on with acoustical absorbers, and put more reflective surfaces on the other side.”
Criterion Acoustics was selective about the acoustical materials that were used, specifying hardwood floors, high-quality carpet, and maple wood treatments throughout – even in the ceiling clouds — to create natural reverb tones that would best represent the piano and drums.
The firm also mastered a tricky HVAC system at Human. “The HVAC is the coolest thing,” says Bloch. “Criterion Acoustics came up with a great solution. It’s very quiet and comfortable, with beautiful baffles that they designed.”
For Andy Bloch, his new room at Human provides everything he needs to turn around a national spot in as little as a few hours – and look sharp doing it.
“If you’re actually going to put up a mic and capture a performance, the room has to sound good, and the performer has to get something back from the room,” he states. “And clients love to hang out in these places — that’s important to keep in mind when you’re creating a live room and acoustic environment.
“When you make music for advertising media, we don’t have the luxury of sitting around for weeks and months, fine-tuning. Our tracks have to sound as good as records, and it has to happen immediately. A studio like this gives you an edge.”