Acoustical Design Considerations for Dolby Atmos StudiosSeptember 2, 2021
Mid South Audio History
Kevin Short made his start in the music industry in his local area of Sussex County Delaware with his own 16-track analog studio in 1983. As the years went on, he progressed to also provide audio installation services all along the east coast of the US. The more business to be had, the more growth he saw until in 1989 he started Mid South Audio. Located in Milton in southern Delaware near the Atlantic coast, MSA established itself as a full-service event production company for local events and bands, with a full recording studio as well to serve the Delmarva Peninsula area. MSA quickly became established as a regional leader for sound and event production, expanding more and more as the years progressed. The 21st century brought more work, and MSA incorporated all facets of event production by acquiring lighting and video businesses to support their audio and event production services. Mid South Audio has continued to serve the Delmarva Peninsula these past 40 years, and even expanded to providing concert production services as far north as New Hampshire and as far south and west as Texas. The clientele and genres served are too many to name, from formal speaking events, to concerts and festivals, to pageants, and even comedy shows. Larger name clients include acts like All American Rejects, Doobie Brothers, Village People, Luke Bryan, STYX, Calvin Harris, Glenn Miller Orchestra, and Wanda Sykes, to name a few.
With the age of the Covid pandemic, gig economy workers, and especially the music industry, suffered tremendously. No live events or concerts, and everyone staying home meant Mid South Audio had much less work for their employees. Kevin Short already had plans to build a new studio facility, but those plans changed dramatically with the pandemic. Rather than downsize the staff, he kept his production employees working by turning them into contractors and builders of the new studio space! We are honored to have served as acoustical consultants on the project, bringing a new, modern, state-of-the-art studio to Mid South Audio to better serve Southern Delaware.
The studio facility features a massive 1400 square foot live room treated with Acoustical Fulfillment products including Barrel Type Wall Diffusers, Fulfill Acoustical Panels, and the Flex-48 Adaptive Treatment System. The Flex-48 is a patented product comprised of three components: an absorptive acoustical panel, a clear Flex-Shield offering barrel-type diffusion, and the Flex-Tray which houses the panel and allows the Shield to be easily removed or put into place. The system allows the product to work as a passive absorber or a barrel diffuser when the artist/engineer chooses. The barrel diffusers and hard floor create a lively tone to allow more recording range depending on the instrument and genre. If a less lively environment is desired, the Flex-48’s can be put into their absorption mode and rugs can be rolled out to reduce reverb in the room. In addition to these steps, bass trap soffits, custom stretched fabric absorption walls, and combination absorptive/diffusive cloud treatment were built in house by the production staff turned carpenters. These custom-built absorbers are eco-friendly as well - instead of the standard fiberglass being used, Mid South Audio opted for a recycled denim insulation from Bonded Logic. The diffusers in the clouds as well as many of the walls and trim in the live room are exposed pine, while the treatment utilizes a navy blue acoustically transparent fabric, giving the studio an aesthetic consistent with the Atlantic coastline, which is only a two-minute drive down the street from the studio. The already visually striking studio is armed with further versatility through the use of LED lighting, allowing users to set their preferred vibes in the space to accompany the clear and precise sound quality of the room.
Piano Isolation Room
The studio also features a dedicated Isolation Room housing the facility’s 9-foot Baldwin S10 Grand Piano. The Isolation Room is accessible through a double telescoping sliding glass door system from the Live Room built by Soundproof Windows. This immense barrier isolates the piano acoustically from the Live Room while still providing visual connection and communication between both rooms and is large enough to allow the piano to be easily moved between the Isolation Room and the Live Room. Two other Isolation Rooms accompany the studio space for vocal tracking or isolated instruments, with Soundproof Windows visually connecting them to the Live Room as well.
The recording facilities have two Control Rooms. The secondary Control Room sits in the corner of the building, featuring a Yamaha DM2000, stretched fabric treatment, soffit bass trapping, and a window connected to one of the Isolation Rooms to arm the space for recording as well. The main Control Room, meanwhile, features an Audient ASP8024 Heritage Edition console chosen specifically for its analog pathing and compatibility with various DAWs. It is also armed with rack mounted outboard gear including various effects and microphone pre-amps from Universal Audio, Dolby Labs, Focusrite, Presonus, and DBX, among others. To see their full gear list including microphones and headphones list, check out their website! The Control Room also features soffit bass trapping on the sides and back of room with a custom ceiling cloud that makes it appear as a continuation of clouds in the Live Room. The side walls are treated with the same stretched fabric treatment and material as the live room, and the back wall features a custom quadratic diffuser as well as the Flex-48 to help combat front-to-back axial room modes.
The studio had its grand opening on the day of MSA’s 31st year anniversary in September 2020. We were honored to attend the grand opening to see their new showroom and to see the studio in action as a live recording session was taking place. Since the opening, the studio has been featured in Mix Magazine and has continued to serve the local community’s music scene with a pristine-quality recording studio. We look forward to seeing the great music that will continue to come from this facility!