Two months ago, a brand new audio production, post-production and mastering facility was launched in Dubai. SoundStruck Studios takes BroadcastPro Middle East on an exclusive tour He began to play the piano when he was four and taught himself to play several other instruments such as the guitar, the saxophone, the drums, the flute, the […]
Two months ago, a brand new audio production, post-production and mastering facility was launched in Dubai. SoundStruck Studios takes BroadcastPro Middle East on an exclusive tour
He began to play the piano when he was four and taught himself to play several other instruments such as the guitar, the saxophone, the drums, the flute, the harmonica and even, the oud. Today, armed with three degrees in classical piano, business administration and audio production as well as years of skill honed from working in the industry, managing director of SoundStruck, Charles El Soueidi, originally Lebanese but born and raised in Dubai, has launched his dream a 1700 sq.ft audio production, post-production and mastering facility in the emirate.
I grew up learning classical music and took a degree in classical piano, but it wasnt what I wanted back then. Instead, I moved into blues and jazz. Ive been through so many different styles and phases in my life; now, I like everything and can play every style, says El Soueidi.
Although music has always been his first love, El Soueidi graduated with a degree in business from Lebanon.
It was in Lebanon that El Soueidi first encountered the professional world of post production and undertook music compositions for documentaries, TVCs and other projects while simultaneously studying for a Business degree. When he returned to Dubai, he decided to take an audio production degree from the SAE Institute as well following which he joined a reputed post production company as head of audio.This is when his dream to build his own studio first took shape.
I left there to do what Im doing now because I felt there was room for a studio that was equally strong in both audio production and post production. Most studios in Dubai either specialise in production or post and if they are strong in one, they cant do the other just as well. Post production studios in the region especially tend not to build their studios properly or fit them with good equipment.So I decided to open a place that is strong in both and thats built the way professional studios should be, claims El Soueidi.
The first business plan for SoundStruck was drafted in 2011 but it took this long to finally launch the facility the way El Soueidi had planned it.
Today, he has reason to feel proud. SoundStruck has been built by Wes Lachot, one of the most famous studio designers in the world.
I thought it was going to be hard to get Wes Lachot on board but it wasnt. I follow a web site for audio engineers called GearSlutz! Its one of the biggest online platforms for audio engineers from all over the world. There is a section on the web site called studio construction, and there was one particular project in the US that I had been following for years.
It took five years to finish, and Lachot was the designer. It is a brilliant recording studio; it looks crazy; Ive never seen anything like it in my life. So I started researching Lachot, who is firstly, a musician and next, a self-taught architect. I contacted him among several others with my requirements. He got back with a quote that was actually not that bad so we decided to bring him on board.
When Lachot came to Dubai to first look at the place, it was just a shell and worked perfectly to design the facility up from scratch, says El Soueidi.
He took some measurements while I explained what I required, and how I wanted everything the way it is now. He went back to the States and sent me some designs. A contractor in Dubai was hired to execute the project, but one of Lachots main builders came here twice, once to oversee the building of the important parts of the studio and to ensure everything was going according to plan, and the second, to install the acoustics. So they were always here supervising although a local company built the place, explains El Soueidi.
The acoustics was one of the biggest concerns El Soueidi had and this was addressed on various levels.
All of the acoustics here are custom made, claims El Soueidi.
My vision was to have a place that could do everything in audio production, post production, mastering, and audio restoration, and we have achieved that. We can do 5.1 mixes, sound design, scoring for films and documentaries, music compositions for commercials, voiceovers, and foley as well. Also, this is a great place for artists and bands to record, mix, and master their music. This is essentially a one-stop shop for all ones audio needs, adds El Soueidi.
If you hear SoundStrucks construction story, you will know that the whole ceiling hangs on springs.
This is to isolate the top of the ceiling from the other floors in the building. The main ceiling of the actual apartment is above what one sees. We built the ceiling below that so we cant hear our neighbours and more importantly, they cannot hear us.The floors follow the same concept but instead of springs, they rest on a rubber floor to isolate the vibrations and other noises. All of the walls have so many different layers inside of them with isolators as well. Every room is isolated from the next. There is an approach in studio construction where each room is boxed, a box in a box, where every room is isolated from the next room, and we have followed this.
The doors at SoundStruck are from Industrial Acoustics, which El Soueidi says is one of the leading suppliers of acoustic doors in the world.
An exciting element of the studio is the wavy walls supplied by RPG.
We are the second or third studio in the world to have these specific acoustics built this way from RPG. They call them Flutterfree and they look retro. FlutterFree walls work in a unique manner. Rather than remove the high frequency energy that strikes key surfaces in a space, FlutterFree preserves that energy by uniformly distributing it back into the space.
In addition to the normal uses of FlutterFree, Wes Lachot (the designer) and RPG (the manufacturer) worked hand in hand to develop an even more efficient way of FlutterFree usage, by placing them in a wavy shape. This is a very new concept that has been implemented only in a handful of facilities around the world. The first time we recorded a band in here, we were fascinated by the way it helped to accurately translate the sounds of the instruments into the mics.
Another key element that SoundStruck was particular about was the equipment.
We sourced the equipment from several different companies. Our main console is from Solid State Logic. A lot of equipment was shipped in from the US including Neve, SSL, API, Dangerous, Manley, A-Design and a lot of other brands. Usually in this field, vintage equipment tends to sound the best, so we have a lot of those in our studio, explains El Soueidi.
And now that the facility is ready, SoundStruck has opened its doors to clients including advertising agencies, video production houses, game development companies, individual artists and bands.
We had people wanting to use the studio even before it was opened, says El Soueidi, adding that they based their studio in TECOM because it is easily accessible to everyone.
We recently had Wiley, the famous UK-based rapper record here. Warner Music UK contacted us. So we do have a little buzz going around about the studio, because its very rare to find a studio like this in Dubai. On the post production side, I have clients I worked with in the past. Presently, its just the two of us running the studio.
I am the managing director but I also do everything in post production because I am an engineer as well as a musician. Elvis Garagic, who is chief engineer, producer and music composer at SoundStruck, handles the audio productions. He used to be an audio instructor at SAE Dubai before joining SoundStruck. He records bands, mixes and masters them. As the place gets busier, I will have to find someone soon to either manage the place or undertake the post production side of it.
According to El Soueidi, the Middle East is replete with talent that is waiting to be discovered but also requires the right level of support.
This part of the world has extremely talented artists. They just need people like us to help produce their music right, and find the right contacts in the industry, adds El Soueidi.