Our Studio Spotlight this month, in association with AllStudios, focuses on the recently-refurbed Airlab facility in Kingston Upon Thames...
The Airlab is a professional audio mastering studio based in South London, owned and run by experienced engineer Jerome Schmitt. 2015 has already seen the studio refitted, refurbished and acoustically fine-tuned, with the help of Munro Acoustics' Phil Pyatt, so we spoke to Schmitt to find out more about The Airlab, the vision behind it and his plans for the studio.
Schmitt has been a mastering engineer for over 15 years. His clients include Alt-J, Sony PS3, Extreme Music, Ninja Tune, the new Space album mixed by Jon Withnall, and many more. However, he started out in 1993 as lead guitarist and producer in the rock band Corpus Delicti. After producing the band's three albums and touring the globe, Schmitt moved to Millennium Studio in the South of France to hone his mixing and mastering skills. He also established himself as a writer and producer of soundtracks for TV and film as well as a sound designer for video projects.
In 2001, Schmitt moved to London and spent five years working in a busy post-production facility in Soho, mastering on Sadie as well as sound editing and mixing for broadcast TV and DVD authoring (C4, BBC, Sky). Finally, in 2006, Jerome opened his own mastering studio, The Airlab (formerly Air Mastering) to provide independent artists with an affordable but high-end mastering service.
Equipment highlights include a custom Crookwood mastering console, as well as Prism ADA-8XR converters. Monitoring in the studio is via a PMC IB1S system with a Bryston 4BST amplifier chosen after further testing and taking the size and sound of the room into consideration.
These midfields "were the best match", Jerome explained. “Not only do they sound neutral, they also give a very accurate representation of the whole spectrum. You can hear things that are often hidden in the mix room and, as a standard in mastering houses, they transcribe extremely well."
The facility also features a Maselec MEA-2 mastering equaliser, which is in use 99.9 per cent of the time, a classic Sontec 250 EQ, as well as compressors/dynamics from Maselec, CraneSong, Avalon and Thermionic Culture, which can be inserted “to raise the level with a nice touch before limiting.”
Mastering clients wishing to use The Airlab are welcome to attend sessions in person, or they can use the Online Mastering service, which was quite a new idea when Schmitt first decided to introduce it. “There was definitely some room for a serious online facility to become available to a large, independent scene like ours," he said. "The Airlab offers the same standard you’d get from any big-name mastering studio at a fraction of the price. We work with a lot of independent artists, because they like our personal approach and our sound.”
The Airlab also offer its own Online Mixing service with Jon Withnall on board as mix engineer. With over ten years’ studio experience and a further five years spent as a professional musician, Withnall has developed an impressive client list and worked on many award-winning records that have sold over 30 million units worldwide.
Schmitt continued: “The Online Mixing Studio has been carefully put together around a Neve console with a hand picked collection of boutique outboard compressors, EQs and reverbs; all the best tools to give your recordings shine and separation whilst retaining their punch and bounce. To put it simply, our goal is to offer top-end sound quality to the independent world and to encourage independent artists to use skilled engineers to get their music to a level of sound quality that they might not have thought accessible to them.”
For more information on Airlab or to contact the team, click here.