A new commercial residential recording studio in France’s Loire Valley, Luke Aaron Clark’s Flow Studios offers both the space and technology required to host larger sessions, centred on an 32-channel Solid State Logic Origin analogue in-line console.

Flow Studios control room with SSL Origin mixing consoleDespite being situated on the edge of unspoilt forest in the hollow of a valley, Flow Studios is easily accessible from major cities and airports. What appealed to the sound artist, composer, musician and facility owner most about Origin was the flexibility provided by its inline format and Pure Drive, which allows it’s preamps ability to take on the character of a warm, driven circuit or clarity and purity.

The installation of the Origin desk and its integration into the rest of the studio infrastructure was seamless, with D-Sub 25 connectors throughout (except for the mic inputs) making for an easy and quick connection. In fact, Clark built the studio control room to accommodate Origin, and was able to select outboard gear that would provide further flexibility, to provide easy and effective workflows for visiting artists when tracking and mixing.

As with many other aspects of pro audio, the Covid-19 pandemic presented a challenge to the studio’s opening, meaning Clark has had to delay guests coming from the UK due to quarantine. This has however given him more time to road test the Origin and outboard gear, and to work with local artists based in France.

Flow Studios offers 120m² of climate controlled studio facilities including a control room, piano room, small and large isolation booths and a double height live room. The SSL Origin complements its residential model by helping to provide freelance friendly operation and intuitive workflow, which feels reassuringly familiar.

‘Origin gives me the ability to work with one artist in the control room, or to have a band or larger group spread out throughout the studio, with all instruments recorded simultaneously,’ says Clark. ‘As a commercial studio owner, I wanted to create a beautiful space where an engineer or producer can get to work quickly. Thankfully, the engineering and design behind Origin is very intuitive.’

‘The SSL Origin is set up as fully patchable, which provides a highly flexible workflow throughout the studio. We have 96 patchable audio lines accessed via wall panels located throughout the facility, while we also use the intelligent and intuitive bus routing on the SSL Origin to manage our dedicated hearback system.’

Flow Studios control room with SSL Origin mixing consoleIt was important for Clark to create a comprehensive yet simple workflow: ‘For tracking, if someone wants to get a session up and running quickly, they can run everything through the desk and it all sounds harmonious,’ he explains. ‘After tracking, the desk, outboard gear or trusted plug-ins can be employed for mixing.’

Equally, if an engineer likes to mix or make decisions as they go along, they have numerous possibilities through use of the inline mixer and outboard gear. For those already coming into the studio with an existing mix, having the ability to use the 0dB switch to give a fixed unity has proved very useful. The low noise floor and the huge headroom via the mix bus bring breadth and space to mixes, while the intuitive centralised bus routing system has helped to further speed up the workflow.

‘The configurable centre section is a great addition,’ Clark says. ‘It gives additional flexibility for how to arrange your workspace or layout your outboard gear. I also like the sleep setting, which reduces power consumption.’

‘I was already familiar with the snarl and crunch of the E series 242-type EQ. It gives some added weight and the ability to fine-tune during or after tracking. And the glue you get from the classic bus compressor is indispensable.’

The studio was designed by John Brandt and took three years to complete; and involved modifying an old town hall into a cutting edge recording studio. ‘We have already had interest from artists wanting to book the studio because they know what to expect, know the quality is almost unrivalled and feel aligned to SSL’s history and values,’ Clark reports. ‘As expected, the desk has performed without fault. Sessions have run smoothly and the quality of sound is truly amazing. It’s a very easy console to get a session up and running at speed, yet there are plenty of areas where you can delve deeper where appropriate.’

More: www.solidstatelogic.com

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