Funk Studios' Studio A with SSL Duality δelta

Conceived as a two-room facility and since expanded to three, composer/songwriter Jim Funk’s Funk Studios can handle projects of all styles and types, from vocal overdubs and mixing to orchestral and choral tracking. Funk engaged Jerry Steckling of JSX Audio to design the complex, whose flagship control room has a Solid State Logic Duality δelta Pro-Station SuperAnalogue console as its centrepiece.

Along with the Duality δelta, Studio A features a Pro Tools rig and LCR ATC soffit main monitors, and is served by a 1,300sq-ft Studio A tracking space, dubbed The Stage, with 23ft-high ceilings, custom variable acoustics and four iso booths, one housing a Yamaha C7 grand piano with Disklavier.

Funk was considering a number of mixing console options for Studio A at his new Utah studio when he began talking to Solid State Logic’s Los Angeles-based VP of Technical Operations, Phill Scholes. ‘After a few conversations, I was a lot more educated on SSL,’ says Funk.

Funk Studios' Studio AFunk and his staff were already predisposed toward SSL consoles, having installed an XL Desk in Studio B a year before the Duality arrived. ‘I think a big part of the decision to go with the Duality was the experience I was having on the XL Desk for the first year that I was working for the company,’ says recording engineer Stoker White, who works for Funk’s long-established musical theatre production track recording business.

‘I was using a variety of outboard mic preamps but always returning and summing through the XL Desk,’ White recalls. ‘As far as using it as returns while I was tracking, I loved the easy availability of the bus compressor. When we started looking at SSL consoles for Studio A, having used the XL Desk for a year, I felt really comfortable with the sound I’d been getting.

‘I love the way it feels like a traditional analogue desk, where everything is primarily accessible right on the channel strips instead of going back and forth to the centre section,’ he says of the Duality δelta. ‘The filter is right there, and I love how easy it is to flip around the signal flow as far as where the EQs are landing relative to the insert points. It’s really intuitive and comfortable to work on.

Funk Studios

‘The console mic preamps sound excellent,’ he elaborates. ‘I’ve used them for 80 per cent of my work since we’ve been open. They’re perfect for the orchestral tracking we’re doing.’ Occasionally, White adds, he will select the Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) mic preamp circuit. ‘I think it’s cool the way it affects the transients and smooths out the front edge. I use it on drums fairly regularly.

Freelance recording and mixing engineer Michael Greene primarily works out of Studio C, which accommodates immersive IMax 12.0 and Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 mixing projects, as well as overdubbing, using its associated iso booth and Yamaha grand or tielines from The Stage. Greene’s large-scale tracking projects in Studio A have included jazz records as well as film and video game scores.

‘I’ve done a couple of jazz records that were tracked live off the floor where I’ve done a live mix back into Pro Tools. Most of the time that’s the mix that gets released. Part of that is budget, but part of it is because it just sounds great,’ he says. ‘The overall sonics really work for me. The console sounds super warm and clear. It has a lot of warmth and bigness, but it still has a lot of clarity, without being harsh.’

As for some of his favourite features, says Greene: ‘I love having filters and EQs on every channel, and that when I put them in, they just sound great. And I like the flexibility of being able to build multiple cue mixes for the players with a minimum amount of fuss.’

Both engineers also enjoy working with the Pro-Station, a version of Duality that offers an alternate centre section layout, wrapping the two bays of 24-channels around the operator. ‘The HUI integration in the Duality is spectacular,’ says Greene. ‘I don’t even realize or ever feel like I’m using HUI protocol, which I couldn’t say when I have used it with other control surfaces. It’s bulletproof, and integrated in a way that’s really stable and effective.

Funk Studios' Studio A with SSL Duality δelta

‘I’ve done plenty of projects where I’m treating the console as a summing mixer, balancing and doing levels inside Pro Tools. The fact that I can switch to the HUI layer and immediately and articulately grab my balances is a beautiful feature of this console that I can’t say was implemented as accurately in other consoles.’

‘It’s great the way that HUI is available on those soft encoders above the analogue faders, so you can flip it and vice versa. The easy availability of the analogue faders and the DAW control is excellent,’ agrees White. ‘And it fits beautifully with the ergonomics of the control room. It looks really clean in here. You can move the DAW monitor back out of the way or bring it right in front of your face. It’s really comfortable.’

Studio A’s control room boasts a selection of outboard equipment and comprehensive microphone cabinet: ‘I had 110 mic preamps before we bought the Duality,’ reports Funk, ‘as well as different compression and EQ options.’

Newer pieces, including close-field monitors, cabling and other items, were acquired through Performance Audio in Salt Lake City. ‘They have been great friends over the years and have always supported me in my craziness,’ Funk says. Westlake Pro in Los Angeles, also supported the new build. ‘Westlake held our hand through the whole construction period. That’s how I met Jerry Steckling,’ says Funk.

‘Jerry has made something stunning and beautiful with both the control room and the studio,’ Greene adds. ‘Jim and Jerry have built a really special room, one of those rare rooms where everything shines and sounds beautiful.’

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