The Barber SHOP Studios: On the cutting edge

The state-of-the-art control room employs a 72-input Solid State Logic XL 9000 K Series SuperAnalogue console, custom Griffin loudspeakers and a Pro Tools|HD mix system. Photos courtesy George Roos Photography.

Three years ago, Scott Barber and Mark Salamone were looking for a place to open The Barber Shop Studios, their recording and production facility. Location was important to them. Salamone wanted the studio to be located in a church, for the sound quality and vibe that churches offer. Barber was looking for a facility near a lake, which he felt would provide a relaxing and creative environment for recording artists.

In addition, they didn't want to go into Manhattan, where it's crowded and space is at a premium. Their goal was to provide New York City service and style in a country setting.

After just three weeks, their search was over. They found an unoccupied stone church on the shore of Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, just 45 minutes outside of New York City. Built in 1911, the church has undergone several changes. It first served as the town's church for 60 years, until the local congregation outgrew its size.

Next, it became a dinner theater, where national entertainers such as Rodney Dangerfield performed. And finally, it was transformed into the Lighthouse Disco, where bands such as the Ramones, Cheap Trick and Twisted Sister played.

Out with the old, in with the new

The church's unique history appealed to Barber and Salamone, and they were eager to continue its rich renaissance.

But first, the building had to be renovated. Orchestrating the two-year process was acoustic design engineer Fran Manzella of Frances Manzella Design. Manzella gutted the interior down to the dirt floor and started from scratch.

The toughest obstacle was waterproofing. The walls in recording studios don't touch. So, in the case of The Barber Shop Studios, there is about a 4in gap between the stone and the first wall. If water gets in there, mold will start growing, and then the entire facility would have to be torn down. To overcome this, a giant trench had to be dug and cemented, and sump pumps were installed.

Once that hurdle was overcome, the rest of the renovation went smoothly. Manzella integrated cutting-edge equipment into the 100-year old building.

The first floor of the 6000sq ft facility boasts a reception area and lounge with a 5.1 sound system and a plasma screen TV. Also on the ground level are the machine room and Pro Tools 1, a 5.1 digital audio suite. The suite is built on a floating floor and features an isolation booth, HD rig and Genelec 8050A surround system.

The second floor includes a producer's lounge and the A Room, which is the main control room. Also built on a floating floor, the A Room features a 72-channel Solid State Logic XL 9000 K Series SuperAnalogue console, outfitted for surround sound mixing. The console was selected because it gives the studio the advantage it needed for 5.1/7.1 mixing, which is ideal for laying audio into a film. The room also includes a Pro Tools|HD mix system. Barber and Salamone were eager to integrate the analog console with the digital Pro Tools in order to provide “the best of both worlds.”

The live room is built on a floating floor and features cathedral ceilings optimized for the best possible sonic performance.

A 52in flat screen rises up to the back of the board at the touch of a button, so users can start mixing to a film and get the visual together. Other equipment that the A Room employs includes custom Griffin studio monitors and Griffin G2A 5.1 surrounds, as well as new and vintage mics and outboard gear.

The second floor also houses three isolation booths and a two-story live room. A live room was necessary in order to create orchestral music for film and had to be large enough to hold a 25-piece orchestra. Like the Pro Tools 1 and A Room, the live room is built on a floating floor.

Right on course

The third floor is home to Waffle Makers Productions. Here, The Barber Shop offers artistic and creative development, audio and video production, and product promotion. Additional amenities include a full-service marina and Italian restaurant, so everything's in-house. Artists can enjoy a fine meal and relax by the lake and then return to editing or shooting a video.

The Barber Shop Studios celebrated its grand opening on June 3. It provides full-service analog and digital recording and post-production, which includes 5.1 and 7.1 digital recording, editing, mixing and master services. Another renaissance of the 100-year-old stone church is now complete.

Technology at work

Susan Anderson is managing editor for Broadcast Engineering and Broadcast Engineering World magazines.

SSL XL 9000 K Series SuperAnalogue console

Griffin custom 5.1 monitors

Mid- and near-field monitors:
Genelec 8050A
Tannoy AMS-12
Yamaha NS-10

Effects and plug-ins:
Sony Oxford

HHB CDR 830 Plus CD recorder
Mark Spits-modified ATR with Dolby SR
Panasonic SV 3800 DAT recorder
Pro Tools
Studer A827 24-track

Design team

Microphones (almost 100):
Audio Technica

Fran Manzella, Francis Manzella Design
Jack Kennedy, wiring design
John Klett, wiring design
Pompton Mills, woodwork
Carroll Construction