Drum recording specialist Rubix Group is not just your average studio. Colby Ramsey meets group co-founder and director Alexandre Monnier to find out what this premier facility in London’s Park Royal has to offer...
While a number of London’s biggest recording facilities struggle with the tough industry climate, the team at Rubix have decided to diversify their offerings and do things differently.
Serving as a self-proclaimed private members club for professional musicians, Rubix offers everything from live event production services and artist relations, to education workshops and of course, recording services.
Although primarily a tracking studio, Rubix specialises in recording drums, as well as looking after professional artists, servicing their kits, and providing them with everything they need for their tours or productions, offering an unprecedented selection of drums and cymbals to choose from.
While it is possible to produce a half-decent recording of any instrument “using a laptop, some speakers and some common sense,” says Rubix Group co-founder and director Alexandre Monnier, “it is an art to record drums properly and there are a lot of things that can go wrong”.
Less is more
The design of a drum studio is essentially a room inside a room inside a room, with an abundance of acoustic treatment to create a certain harmonic richness.
Instead of investing heavily in vintage pro audio equipment, the team at Rubix decided to do away with all the outboard gear, streamlining their setup with a Focusrite RedNet interface, which Monnier says was picked for the quality of its sound and the advantages it brings to their workflow.
Gear-crazy audiophiles might be disheartened, but the way the room’s acoustics, microphones and drum kits are tuned and utilised depending on the project makes for great quality sound right from the start, according to Monnier, who handles Rubix’ events and strategy operations. “You barely need to put the faders up and it sounds like its been mixed already because it’s been well recorded,” he says. “The idea is that when clients arrive, we’re ready to record by the time they have a coffee in hand.”
The setup in Rubix’ drum room is also very simple to look at, with racks of gear concealed behind makeshift walls and custom ceiling-mounted microphone bars on rails. “We can’t use normal mic stands with the drum kits always going in and out, so like with the bars, everything is done to save time,” explains engineer Arvydas Gazarian, who currently handles most of the sessions. “It’s a basic framework but it means anyone can come here with their kit and setup if they don’t have a preference.”
The most important part of the room’s design was, as is often the case, the ceiling. The whole room itself – which is diamond shaped – weighs nine-and-a-half-tons and was designed by studio designer Manu Ventura, who designed the room especially for drum frequencies and often frequents its spaces to record.
“There were some issues because of the shape of the room though,” explains Rubix co-founder and director Bence Bolygo, who along with Monnier and partner Peter Ward makes up the company’s board of directors. “The corner pieces in the angles of the walls alone took a month. We make use of wooden joists to make the room one and a half times bigger acoustically.”
Variety is the spice of life
With over 500 cymbals alone on stock and 60 full drum kits, Rubix offers a staggering 117,000 combinations of drum sounds, and prides itself as having the biggest vintage collection of drums in the whole of London.
“We’re like the drum doctors of LA but we do everything in-house,” remarks Bolygo. “The pure essence is that you’ve got every possibility of sounds since the 1940s here, from James Brown’s kit to Buddy Rich.”
The idea here is that the setup stays the same and it’s just the drums that change: “First you put the kit into the room to get the sound the client wants,” Bolygo continues. “Then it’s about the mics and the room; we’re endorsed by AKG and we also work with a company called Violet Designs. The room is neutral and controlled, and our approach was to eliminate as many variables as possible.”
While the drum room lies at the core of Rubix’ offering, they also work with many famous artists such as Jamiroquai, Harvey Mason and Jeff Beck, as well as producing drum recording videos for the likes of Yamaha, with the studio equipped to shoot such material.
Additionally, the guys at Rubix have recently been heavily involved in the education side of the industry, working with universities around Europe – as well as secondary schools – to give students an in-depth experience while garnering marketing exposure for their associated brands.
It’s all about educating in sustainability for the future"
“The reason why we got involved in the education side is because we see a growing demand in universities for these drum masters to go in there and teach the students,” explains Bolygo (pictured above, left), who is mainly focused on the education and brand relations side of the business. “We’re doing an education event with Ronnie Scott’s as an online streaming event - the last one pulled in an audience of 88,000 watching it. It’s all about educating in sustainability for the future.”
Artist relations is also a big part of what Rubix Group do on a day-today basis, matching up brands with artists who will come to the studio to create videos, host masterclasses, or involve themselves in other kinds of endorsement deals. “It’s a lot more of a natural, efficient and less costly way to get people to know about good products,” says Monnier (pictured above, right). “All these singer-songwriters will have a project but might not have a drummer so we can supply that too, from a talented unknown to a famous superstar.
“We always just wanted to make a high end place that would be great value for clients. It’s hard to boil down what we do to one unique selling point so to speak, but I think the range of our drum options definitely holds the best value.”