AES Section Meeting Reports

Boston - April 30, 2009

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AES Boston Section
April 2009 Meeting
with John Storyk

On April 30, 2009, the Boston Section of the Audio Engineering Society hosted a presentation by John Storyk titled Audio Recording Environments — Past, Present and Future at Devlin Hall on the Boston College Campus. The topical focus of the presentation was his perspective on audio recording environments. He opened by optimistically stating, "saying that the recording studio business is over is about as far from the truth as possible. There have been some things that have changed but there are more studios currently being built than ever before."

He referenced Boston as being "Ground Zero" for the birth of modern acoustics in 1900 with Wallace Sabine and that studios were not part of the scene until about 50 years later. Studios are the environment of the engineer and the early studios weren't designed to look pretty. Studios changed when the "artist took control" in the late 60's. Artists took control over how their music was made and then took control over the environment such as including a lounge area, which hadn't previously existed.

John reminisced about a pivotal career opportunity that came when he was only 22 yrs. old—designing Electric Lady Studios for Jimi Hendrix. With this project he was able to use ground-breaking design concepts. After 40 years in the business, John continues to work because "it's still fun" and the design tools being used keeps his interest. WSDG currently has more work than they can handle.

John stated that larger control rooms are easier to design than smaller rooms due to low frequency control. He shared examples of some of his larger projects as well as projects currently underway noting some specific challenges of each project. Currently, many studios have a large control room, small recording room, and a large lounge area. He stated that "although there is a science to all this, it's all about the music".

Computer-aided measurement systems and prediction software have leveled the playing field. The availability of Prefab materials has exploded. Prediction software can allow the designer to hear the way things sound before building it. He gave two "Auralization" demonstrations, showing how using prediction software can help with designing acoustical measurements and treatments before they are physically built.

John concluded by giving a few industry predictions: all sizes of studios will continue to exist but other types will evolve. Better audio will continue to surface, despite a decline in listening values. Production values still remain high. It is a taste and not a quality issue. Someday, digital and analog will be the same. Room acoustics will push the limits of critical listening environments. There is not that much difference in gear, and sometimes there is no difference. The difference is Operator, Environment and the Acoustics. We will continue to have really great gear that gets smaller and better.

John Storyk, Architect and Principal, Walters-Storyk Design Group (, is celebrating his 40th year as a leading architect and acoustician of technical architecture. Dedicated to critical listening and viewing environments, WSDG is a six-time TEC Award winner for outstanding achievement in Acoustics/Facility Design. The Walters-Storyk Design Group, with offices in New York, Argentina, Brazil and Switzerland, has designed over 3000 media production facilities worldwide.

Credits range from the original Jimi Hendrix Electric Lady Studios to New York City's Jazz at Lincoln Center performance complex, broadcast facilities for The Food Network, Interlochen Public Radio, CBS and WNET, and corporate clients such as Hoffman La Roche and Sony. Recent credits include private studios for the Goo Goo Dolls, Jay-Z, Timbaland's Tim Mosley, Tracy Chapman, R. Kelly, Damian Marley, Bruce Springsteen, film composer Carter Burwell, Aerosmith, Green Day, and Alicia Keys.

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