Firehouse Heats Up with X-10 Monitors
On the outside, Firehouse Studios preserve the rustic charm of the original structure, a circa 1889 fire station near downtown Pasadena, California. On the inside, however, the facility takes a quantum leap into 21st century audio technology. After gutting the old building's outer shell and rebuilding from the ground up, this cutting-edge recording complex installed the first surround monitoring system in Southern California to incorporate Meyer Sound's revolutionary X-10 Linear Control Room Monitors.
Firehouse chief engineer Les Cooper choose the X-10 monitors in close consultation with Tena Clark, founder and CEO of Disc Marketing - the multi-faceted media production and marketing firm of which Firehouse Studios is the newest division.
"George Newburn of Studio 440, who designed the studios, said we might want to give the X-10s a listen," recalls Cooper. "I've been Tena's engineer for years, both when she was songwriter and later a producer, and over the years we've heard a lot of different systems. We were not overly pleased with many of them, so we were anxious to hear something new and different."
Clark and Cooper flew to northern California and heard the X-10s at both Ex'pression Center For New Media in Emeryville and at Meyer Sound headquarters in neighboring Berkeley. For the auditions, they brought along a stack of CDs, both of Disc Marketing's own productions and some by well-known artists who might be potential clients.
"We came away very much impressed with the X-10s," states Cooper, "both installed at the studio and simply free-standing in the Meyer demo room. They have a clarity that never turns harsh. You don't feel like you need to back away from them when they get loud."
Noted system consultant Bob Hodas supervised installation of the new monitoring systems and also performed final room tuning. The system in the Studio A control room comprises three X-10s for front left, center and right; two companion X-800 Studio Subwoofers for supplemental deep bass as well as LFE; and an X-01 Crossover Module for signal division and bass management. Four UPA-1P Compact Wide Coverage loudspeakers supply left and right split surrounds, with six CP-10S Complementary Phase Parametric Equalizers installed for system tuning.
The smaller Studio B control room also features an all-Meyer 5.1 surround system, in this case utilizing HD-1 High Definition Audio Monitors for left, center and right, with a pair UPM-1P Ultra-Compact Wide Coverage loudspeakers for rear surround monitoring. Three CP-10S were incorporated for system tuning.
Prior to the official grand opening of Firehouse Studios in early May, Cooper supervised some demo tracking sessions where he recorded basic drums, then added in bass, guitar and horns using the X-10s for monitoring. He then listened to the results on the familiar HD-1s and on his home system, and said "so far I'm very impressed."
Also prior to opening, Cooper and Clark invited several artists with whom they had worked over the years to come over for a sneak preview. One was singer/songwriter-turned-producer Meredith Brooks, who has worked frequently in many of the area's top studios. After listening to playbacks on the X-10, Cooper reports that, "She turned to me and said, 'This is the greatest sounding room I've ever heard.'"