KMH

Founded in 1771, Stockholm’s Royal College of Music has been the training ground for some of Sweden’s most celebrated composers and performers. The college recently completed a major overhaul of its recording and production suites as part of an extensive 15-year renewal project.

To support continually-expanding music performance and composition programmes with world-class facilities, architectural acoustic consulting and A/V integration firm WSDG (Walters-Storyk Design Group) was called on to design three main stereo control rooms.

From the onset, the renewal project was designed to give the Royal College of Music (KMH) and its students a top-of-the-line facility to serve the school’s performance, composition, and music production curricula. In addition to new classrooms, practice rooms and concert halls, this included recording studios and control rooms that could be used for a variety of production applications.

Stockholm's Royal College of Music Studio 1‘The entire design of the new campus was made to meet the highest international standards,’ KMH Sound Engineer Markus Sjöberg explains. ‘For our studio spaces, this meant we wanted the best acoustic performance possible and an aesthetically calm, organic, yet modern look to inspire our students while also providing them with everything they need to do their best work.

‘We were very familiar with WSDG’s expertise and advanced design process, so it was a clear choice to work with them on this project,’ he adds.

In addition to acoustics and aesthetics, a further objective for the studio design was to draw all of the aspects of the school’s programmes closer together. Advanced interconnectivity was required to allow the students and faculty to make the most of the robust concert programming. ‘We have a very active concert programme at KMH – over 400 events a year,’ Sjöberg says. ‘Documenting these performances is an integral part of our curriculum, so it was essential that the system design of these spaces matched the acoustics for quality.’

The WSDG Design Team on the project was led by Senior Project Engineer Thomas Wenger and included Partners, Dirk Noy and Romina Larregina. Presented with a nearly completed building, the team was faced with the challenge of designing critical listening rooms that could conform to existing infrastructure and HVAC systems. ‘Our extensive experience has established a unique skill set and special tools to draw upon for resolving acoustic problems that arise when designing within existing spaces,’ Noy says. ‘For KMH, this meant new room geometries that would provide an accurate sonic representation of the sound field throughout the room while conforming to the building’s existing infrastructure.’

The team created a design package that optimised the studio’s acoustics by using tuned low-frequency absorbers made of specifically perforated plywood. Working on the project remotely, the team used KMH’s extensive documentation and measurements for onsite construction by local studio builders Studiobyggarna AB.

Stockholm's Royal College of Music‘We designed the new studios for excellent left/right imaging, and also to compensate for extensive low-end frequency problems that they were experiencing inside the rooms,’ Larregina says. ‘KMH gave us very detailed feedback on the rooms which made the work run very smoothly, and ultimately produced results we’re incredibly proud of.’

The completed control rooms provide KMH’s students with a variety of useful recording and production environments, including Studio 1 (the largest and most versatile), Studio 2 (which features an analogue console and is optimised for students to work on their personal projects), and Studio 3 (a multi-purpose mixing room designed for streaming and broadcast work). All three are connected with Stagetec and Dante networks that allow them to be used together, or with any of the school’s major concert halls. Now officially in use, the finished studios have had an immediate impact on the school’s student body and faculty and have quickly become favoured spots on campus.

‘The sound quality and vibe make it a very special place to be creative,’ Sjöberg says. ‘I’ve spent my entire life in recording studios, and this is by far the best sounding room I’ve heard anywhere in the world.

‘It’s always hard to know what to expect on a project like this, no matter how talented the designers are, but our jaws just dropped the first time we heard music from the main monitors,’ he concludes. ‘The improvement in sound quality was so dramatic we couldn’t possibly hope for anything better.’

More: www.studiobyggarna.se

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