AES Section Meeting Reports

Chicago - September 20, 2017

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Brad Showalter has been building his recording studio, known as Kiwi Audio, for the past 5 years and is nearing completion. The facility is on farm land just outside Batavia, IL. The land has been owned by Brad's family since the 1970's, and when he started to out-grow his home-studio, he decided to build something from the ground up. From the outside it looks like any other steel barn, but the location has become a destination studio for many bands. They bring their tour bus and their friends and have a camp-out/party while recording an album.

Kiwi Audio is a remarkable accomplishment, both in terms of the quality of design and construction achieved, as well as the resources with which it has been built. Brad regaled the group with many stories about the build process, including an incredible about of detail on the materials and structure used to make the walls, floor, and ceiling (including literal buckets of "Green Glue"). He has done a lot of hands-on work with all of the systems of the facility as well, including electrical, (radiant) heating, and air handling.

Recording studios require high attention to detail in their construction, to decouple vibrations, impede the transmission of sound from room to room, as well as manage acoustic reflections within each room. Things like air handling ducts require special design to permit smooth airflow while being silent and preventing the transmission of sound through them. Many ducts have a muffler box installed which has an irregular shape and is lined with fiberglass insulation to dampen sound transmission.

Two of the most interesting features of Kiwi audio were the adjacent grain silo which can be used as a reverb chamber, and the "drum-brella" which is an acoustically absorptive canopy suspended over the drum kit that can be raised and lowered via an electric winch.

The design has largely been handled by Jeff Hedback of HdAcoustics. He works remotely, and has never actually set foot in Kiwi, yet is intimately familiar with the space thanks to the photos and acoustical measurements that Brad has sent throughout the build process.

Brad's enthusiasm and passion for his work clearly shone through as he showed us around his creation. Those present enjoyed the opportunity to network as well as get an "under the hood" look at a working recording studio.

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