After 13 years in London with Sphere Studios Mk 1, Francesco Cameli has opened a brand new iteration of his renowned facility in Los Angeles, California.
Located in a building that was originally Royaltone Studios and subsequently Linda Perry’s private Kung Fu Gardens facility, the new Sphere Studios is an organic, creative space designed with musicians firmly in mind.
“Sphere Studios LA will appeal to musicians who really play well and love creative playground-type rooms,” Cameli says. “At the same time it has enough cool to appeal to artists and producers who just need a room to record a vocal or some drums or strings.”
Located in North Hollywood, Sphere Studios has a tracking room with a large live area, a sizable drum booth and vocal booth, three guitar closets and a private lounge. This studio is equipped with a ‘lovingly restored’ vintage Neve 8078 console, while Studio B (a mix room that also has two booths and two guitar closets) is equipped with an SSL 4072 G+ console. Both control rooms feature PMC BB5-XBD-A main monitors and PMC AML2 nearfield monitors, which were chosen for their punch and clarity. The facility also has three production rooms, each with their own vocal booths, that are ideal for smaller projects and song writing.
“We originally planned to house Sphere Studios in a building in Burbank, but after 18 months of wrangling over permits and car parking spaces we simply couldn’t make that work,” Cameli says. “Luckily, Linda was looking to downsize and when I heard that her studio was on the market, I did a deal and here we are.”
The atmosphere and feel of the second premises was perfect, says Cameli, and refitting it gave him the opportunity to do everything he had originally wanted to do in London.
“We updated the entire technical install whilst trying to maintain as much of the ambiance as possible. The whole building was rewired with Mogamy Oxygen free cable, as well as the vintage Neve, and both consoles were recapped and had a good few switches changed over,” he explains. “From a studio design and acoustics point of view, we figured it out as we went along using our many years of experience of what works and what doesn’t. As the studio was already built, most of the retouches were cosmetic – new paint, tiles, pictures on the walls, etc. The rooms sounded so good that we didn’t want to potentially break that.”
The choice of PMC speakers was made when Burbank was still a possibility. Cameli was planning to have free-standing main monitors, which steered him towards the BB5-XBD-A’s.
“The more I worked with them, the more I realised that these were the most revealing yet musical monitors I had ever heard,” he says. “To make matters even better, we were able to soffit mount the BB5s at our new premises – and the minute we heard them in the wall we ordered a second set for Studio B. The BB5 XBD-As give you punch and clarity and are extremely revealing regardless of the level you are working at. They also have the power to pin a client to the back wall if that’s what they’re after, whilst maintaining a pristine soundstage and image. I’ve never hear anything do that. We can offer clients other speakers if they want them, but with the addition of the AML2 nearfields we are now 100% equipped with PMC.”
Maurice Patist, PMC USA’s President of Sales and Marketing, says: “We are really proud to have been closely involved in the upgrade of this amazing studio. During construction, we advised on the acoustics and tested systems multiple times to get the best possible results. Francesco had a clear idea of the level of quality he was pursuing and we are proud to have surpassed his expectations. Having another world class facility in LA outfitted with PMC speakers shows how we have become the monitor of choice for the most critical ears in the industry.”
Alongside PMC speakers, both studios are equipped with Prism Sound ADA-8XR multichannel converter, Pro Tools HDX2 rigs with a Lavry gold print front end and a separate print rig in the mix room. Most of the outboard equipment was shipped over from Sphere Studios in the UK, but there are some fun new additions – mainly instruments and amps.
“We have three Steinway pianos, a Hammond 2 Rhodes, a Whurly and 30 plus guitar amps, as well as six drum kits and 20-odd snare,” Cameli says. “We also have an extensive microphone collection that includes many favourites and some vintage guitars that I have accrued along the way.”
During the 13 years it was in operation, Sphere Studios London attracted high profile clients such as Adele, Muse, Duran Duran and Queen. Following its official opening, which took place on February 25th 2016, Cameli is aiming to repeat that success. Alongside his own engineering work, he has already lined up a number of external projects, including a film score.
“I’ve never been busier,” he says. “Two No. 1 records in one year as well as countless other smaller projects has highlighted how good a decision it was to move to Los Angeles. People here just want work done well, which is something I have always done. With Sphere Studios LA, we have tried to create an inspiring environment where artists can turn off the external pressures of life and just be inspired to create their best work. The rest is in their hands and in their imaginations, we’re simply here to capture it all and to make great music for as long as possible.”
For information about PMC’s full range of speakers, please visit www.pmc-speakers.com
For more information about Sphere Studios, please visit www.francescocameli.com