Vienna Symphonic LibraryCounts on ADAM AudioADAM Users
The Vienna Symphonic Library equips their world-class control room Control A with a S6X-based 5.1 monitoring system by ADAM Audio
VSL’s Synchron Stage Vienna, as it is now known, has an amazing history. It’s a world-class film-scoring stage, part of a larger complex built during the 20th century’s golden age of film production, between the 1920s and the 1940s: Rosenhügel Film Studios, which was once at the heart of the Austrian film industry. Years of slow decline under the management of the Austrian state broadcaster, ORF, followed from the late sixties. As the price of real estate rose around Vienna, the threat of being sold off for residential development, like so many studios around the world, began to loom.
A plan to build housing and shops on the site was narrowly checked during the 1990s, but when ORF finally sold up a few years ago, it looked as though this piece of Central European history would disappear for good. Most of the buildings on the former Rosenhügel site were demolished in 2014 and 2015, and have now disappeared under the long-threatened flats and a supermarket — but campaigners were able to secure the future of the scoring stage and one other original building on the site, placing the scoring stage on the national register of protected properties.
World-class film scoring facility
For the Vienna Symphonic Library (VSL), developers of the internationally renowned sample library of the same name and numerous world-class software-based orchestral instruments, the last-minute rescue of the former Rosenhügel Scoring Stage came at the perfect time. VSL had been based at a small custom-built recording facility for over a decade and needed to expand. VSL’s founder, Herb Tucmandl, summed up the stroke of fortune thus: “We were lucky that it became available at the same time we were looking; we could not have built a building this size from scratch.” VSL bought the scoring stage in Summer 2013 and spent over two years restoring the building in collaboration with the Walters-Storyk Design Group, who were responsible for the acoustic and architectural design of the revitalized building, and TSAMM Professional Audio Solutions, who were the consultants and integrators on the equipment side.
The results are amazing, the aim having been to create a world-class film scoring facility to seriously compete with the likes of the Newman or Sony stages in LA, or Abbey Road in London. The original 540 square-meter main orchestral recording space, which can accommodate an orchestra of up to 100 players and is between 10.5 and 12.5 meters high, was retained, but the recording facilities were completely redesigned from scratch. Synchron Stage Vienna, as the facility is now known, now features two control rooms, the main 114 square-meter Control Room A, and Control Room B, which is used to capture recordings in a smaller secondary orchestral performance area. VSL has also moved most of its operations into the building, and now makes most of the orchestral recordings that make up its libraries and instruments here, so numerous offices and fully equipped sound-editing suites had to be included.
VSL already had a relationship of sorts with ADAM Audio, as they had received some speakers in exchange for support given to the company’s founder when he bought their sample library for personal use. But as they were designing the new Synchron Stage from scratch, they decided to undertake a thorough evaluation process when it came to choosing monitoring for the new facility, as Head of Technical Services & Chief Audio Engineer Bernd Mazagg explains.
Combining real and virtual instruments
“From the beginning, the Synchron Stage project has always been the next big step for VSL. We wanted to create not only a 5.1-capable scoring stage of international standing but also a place where we could continue the detailed work of the Vienna Symphonic Library, not only for recording, but also for performance. We see this as a place where we can combine our virtual instruments with the sound of real instruments playing, and our clients — who include the best-known film composers in the world — are particularly interested in exploring those possibilities.
“We did a really detailed evaluation of all kinds of professional monitors — all the big names were here. I have always been a big fan of the ADAM A7 we had before, so I asked ADAM Audio if they would send some monitors for inclusion in our tests. They kindly agreed, and sent the S6Xs.”
When asked why he had always admired ADAM Audio designs, Mazagg’s reply is instant — which is appropriate given that it has to do with the fast dynamic response of the X-ART (eXtended Accelerating Ribbon Technology) high-frequency and mid-range drivers in the S6X: “I like my loudspeakers to have as dynamic a response as possible, so that the transients are not compromised. I’m also a drummer, and so I’m very critical of transient response when it comes to loudspeakers. In that respect, ADAM loudspeakers have by far the fastest dynamic response — or at least, I haven’t heard anything comparable. The ADAMs also seem to work well with all genres of music, which is important in the film music world these days. If you look at modern film scores, you don’t usually just have an orchestra playing, there will be a lot of electronic sounds and loops. With those kinds of sounds, it’s more important than ever that the monitors you’re using are very dynamic, so that all of the transients and impulses are reproduced in the right places, without any smearing.”
“The large-bodied S6Xs reproduce the finer acoustics of an entire orchestra, its overall sound, very beautifully”
Following the monitor evaluation, the technical staff were all agreed: “As audio professionals, we liked the ADAMs best from a technical standpoint,” explains Mazagg, “because you listen for twenty seconds and straight away, you know what’s going on. The sound I hear from the ADAM speakers tells me everything I need to know about the music. The X-ART tweeter and mid-range drivers give me exactly what I need to hear. The D’Appolito arrangement of the drivers also allows the S6Xs to fill our control room with sound — and let’s not forget, the large room is 114 square meters, so that’s quite an achievement.”
However, it wasn’t purely technical concerns that swayed the team. “While the ADAMs are technically very accurate, I must say that I like just listening on them too,” continues Mazagg. “The large-bodied S6Xs reproduce the finer acoustics of an entire orchestra, its overall sound, very beautifully. And they seem to work well for all types of listener. We often have people listening in here that aren’t trained musicians, acousticians or sound engineers, and they often comment on how realistic the sound is in the control room: “as if there were no glass between here and the recording space” is how they’ll put it. And of course that’s exactly what you want from a monitoring system.”
The finished Synchron Stage has a 5.1 S6X system in Control Room A with four Sub15s, while the smaller Control Room B has a main left-right pair of S5Xs and S3X-Hs for the surrounds, with two Sub15s. The edit suites and the Composer Lounge are all fitted with pairs of S2Xs, the Preproduction is equipped with three S3X_Hs, two S2Xs and two Sub15. “That’s to ensure that the material we’re working on sounds basically the same, whether we’re listening in the control room or working in the edit suites,” explains Mazagg. “So in fact, nearly the entire ADAM SX range is represented here!” he smiles.
Since opening in January 2016, the Synchron Stage’s clients have included Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. For more information, and to see a video of the amazing new facility, see www.synchronstage.com.
Furthermore, there is a video of the amazing new facility:
Recently, Bernd Mazagg also added the ADAM STUDIO PRO SP-5 headphones to his monitoring setup:
Find more about VSL and ADAM Audio in an Article by “Professional Audio” magazine (German) here.