Atlanta’s Bravo Ocean Studios has opened its Ocean Suite, a flagship room featuring a Solid State Logic Origin 32-channel analogue in-line mixing console.

Ocean Suite flagship room with SSL OriginThe multi-room hybrid facility in the city’s Grant Park neighbourhood was opened by producer, musician and songwriter Nick Chahwala in 2014, and offers services for both music production and audio for film. Since opening, the new room has hosted projects with Amazon Music, Adidas, Netflix, Legendary, Rolling Stone, RapTV, HBO and Jordin Sparks as well as ADR sessions for the FX comedy-drama series Atlanta.

Chahwala was not initially aware of the Origin when seeking a console for the Ocean Suite. ‘As soon as I saw it, I said, “That’s the one!” – I’m a marketing guy as well, so design is a big thing for me, and it’s such a sleek and beautiful design,’ he says. ‘Origin is very modern but still has a very analogue, old-school soul – and that met with what we wanted to do at the studio.’

Chahwala recognised the heritage of the audio design of the Origin, in particular the EQ, which harks back to the SSL E series. He has worked on ‘a lot’ of SSLs around the Atlanta area. ‘SSL has always been my favourite, and I felt like Origin was made for me and my younger self. The functionality is great, and these are my favourite EQs. I’m always busing out or inserting the EQs when I’m in Pro Tools.’

The centre section of the Ocean Suite’s Origin houses a 500 series rack. ‘There’s so much customisation I can do,’ Chawala says. ‘Some days I’ll be mastering, so I’ll put my mastering modules right into the rack and they look like they’re part of the SSL. Other days, if we’re doing live sessions, I’ll move those out of the way and fill it with the SSL 611DYN E Series dynamics modules, so it matches the EQs. But the next guy might want something else, so he can bring his rack, we can disconnect ours, and put his in.

One modern aspect of the console that appealed to Chahwala’s concept for Bravo Ocean was the power consumption. ‘Bravo Ocean is a zero-waste studio facility,’ he says. ‘We try our best to be sustainable and worry about our carbon footprint. Origin has a sleep mode; it uses 900W when it’s on and 40W when it’s asleep. So that checked boxes for us.’

Ulrika Lindström and Nick ChahwalaBravo Ocean hosts a lot of live sessions and events from full bands to orchestra sections to podcasts, so having 32 channels of PureDrive mic preamps across the board has proved invaluable. ‘We also do a lot of things where people are filming while they’re recording, so the SSL acts like a live board for us. We have plenty of channels and plenty of preamps to make sure that everything sounds great. It might be a live show, but we want a studio quality recording.’

Chahwala started his career on analogue desks and appreciates Origin’s ease of use: ‘I wanted people to sit down and get right to work without being intimidated by the board,’ he says. ‘There was hardly a learning curve for our engineers. Origin makes sense in design and intuitiveness for that next generation. And since new producers and engineers are regularly coming to the space, we didn’t want to scare them with the board or make them feel like they can’t get into it. They can get right into creating and making their songs sound better without getting too technical – and then keep coming back to the room because of the intuitiveness of the SSL Origin.’

Ocean Suite’s interior design is the vision of Swedish designer Ulrika Lindström – Chahwala’s wife, who is also a recording artist – while Vintage King’s James Good consulted on the new room’s complement of audio equipment, which includes a custom Augspurger monitoring system manufactured by Symphonic Acoustics, who also collaborated on the studio’s acoustics.

The new studio expands Bravo Ocean’s physical footprint, which previously extended across three production rooms, collectively known as Suite I, outfitted for music, ADR and voiceover work as well as some podcasting. ‘They live together in a communal environment,’ Chahwala explains. ‘We wanted more people to come in and collaborate, especially on the music side. Record labels will often take all three rooms at once, with three engineers.’

Using his marketing expertise, Chahwala analysed the data from past years at the facility and recognised a need for a larger, dedicated studio that could handle both music and film work; a unique offering compared to other studios in the city.

‘We understood where the market was heading, what our demographic was asking of us and what was needed in Atlanta, so we started building that room. The decision to install an SSL Origin came down to it being a purpose-built, no-frills type of board that I could use in my flagship room.’

On any given day, he says, it’s not unusual to see actors Zoey Soldano or Kevin Bacon doing some voice recording in one of Bravo Ocean’s rooms, or Jack Harlow, Migos or Quavo at work on their latest music releases in another room. ‘We’re working with Joe [RG1] Russo, who was recently working on a Netflix film, ,’ Chahwala says. The action thriller was directed by Russo and his brother Anthony, and is one of the highest budgeted films Netflix has produced to date.


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