STUDIO SPOTLIGHT: Circle Studios, Birmingham

Versatile new complex opened its doors this month at a launch party attended by Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.
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Audio Pro International, in association with AllStudios, presents the latest instalment of our Studio Spotlight. This month, our focus is on Birmingham's Circle Studios.

Dubbed by one client as "the only studio you'll ever need," Circle Studios is a highly versatile new studio complex, which officially opened its doors to the public on May 25th at a launch party attended by Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, Ian Palmer of The Ghosts and multi-platinum/Grammy Award-winning producer Steve B Baughman, among others.

Designed from the ground up by Belgium's Northward Acoustics, Circle has been built in accordance with founder and chief engineer Trevor Gibson's (Trev) philosophy that "to get an amazing sounding record, you really need to record it in an amazing sounding room." To achieve this, each of the studio's four high-ceilinged live rooms has a unique sonic footprint which can be adapted (using custom-designed gobos that absorb or diffuse) to create the exact room response and reverb time that each particular session needs.

Gibson explained the design choices for the live areas: "Circle's Big Room is approximately 550 square feet with an 18-foot ceiling. It has a spacious sound, variable acoustics, a relatively short reverb and a lack of early reflections. It can easily accommodate 12-15 musicians and the design brief was to make it 'the best room in the UK to record drums'. With that in mind, we included twelve reversible acoustic panels, absorptive on one side with binary amplitude diffusion on the other, to allow the room's acoustics to be changed from tight and dry, to spacious and airy, depending on the instrument or track being recorded.

"Our Stone Room, with its short (1.2 second) intense reverb was inspired by Townhouse Studios and is also excellent for drums and strings. Seven tonnes of randomly placed rounded boulders, a complete absence of parallel surfaces, together with 15 foot high, angled ceilings, combine to give this room massive diffusion, made up of a thousand early reflections.

"Next, our White Room, designed for recording acoustic guitars or strings, is 3,800 cubic feet with 14-foot ceilings and a 1.5-second smooth but bright reverb. Lastly, our Wooden Room, which is lined entirely with polished maple in homage to Avatar Studios in NYC, measures over 3,500 cubic feet with a 13-foot ceiling and absolutely no parallel surfaces. It has a 1.8-second smooth, dark reverb and, like all of Circle's live rooms, comes up on the patchbay so it can be used as a real reverb chamber during mixdown."

Circle Studios has perhaps benefitted most from Northward Acoustics' expertise in control room design. "Thomas is nothing short of a magician," Trev continued. "The first FTB room in the UK provides for an exceptionally accurate mixing environment. If you consider the API console and ATC main monitors to be the icing on the cake, then the rest of the gear list, with Pro Tools HD3, mics from Neumann and Telefunken, hardware by Neve, Teletronix and Urei and an array of boutique outboard gear from Manley and Retro to Crane Song and Avedis, provides a veritable smorgasboard for every taste." You can peruse Circle's full equipment list here.

As well as band and artist recording and mixing, Circle Studios also offers voiceover recording and editing facilities. Recent clients range from Henry Rollins and Nikki Murray to Yamaha and ZY Records.

To contact Circle Studios or find out more about the facility, click here.

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