Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Project Case Study: Therapy Studios

Therapy Studios is a busy post-production house in West Los Angeles. With a big feature film project in the works, they realized it was important to improve their main sound room. Initially, they thought they just needed some acoustical tuning materials. After contacting PMI and meeting with Anthony Grimani, they learned the room needed complete renovation - and talk about "asap" they needed it done in less than a week! 

The main problem was sound isolation – the room had essentially no isolation on the right wall and the ceiling so sounds from adjacent spaces were seeping into the studio.

Moving at warp speed, PMI engineered the space, contracted the building and installation, specified and secured the gear, and actually got the whole project completed in four days from start to finish. Here’s some of what we achieved in record time: 
  • Completely reconstructed the right side wall with a resilient framing system.
  •  Reconstructed the ceiling with a sound-isolated, hanger-resilient ceiling system.
    • Replaced foam inserts in the ceiling with custom blocking and acoustical sealant to reduce sound leakage to/from the hallway.
    • Built a riser for the producer's couch to improve sound lines and consistency between the mix seat and the producer's seat.
    •  Replaced the acoustical treatments with a ZSound™ Ensemble system from MSR Acoustics, a high performance acoustical tuning system for professional studios.

      BEFORE - Front Wall
      AFTER - Front Wall
      BEFORE - Right/Back Wall
      AFTER - Right/Back Wall
      • Installed a new baffle-mounted speaker system in the front which was aimed for best coverage of the mix desk and producer's area.
      • Added an amplifier and signal processor between the DAW and new passive front loudspeakers to provide time alignment and frequency correction for each speaker. The result is more accurate sound quality and spatial resolution.
      • Added a second subwoofer strategically located to smooth out bass variations in the room. The result is tighter bass performance and less bass change from seat to seat. 
      • Repositioned back set of surround speakers for better presentation to the couch.
      Installed gear includes Klipsch speakers from Electronic Stockroom. We also used Ashly Audio EQ which allowed us to fine-tune the speakers to the room, and create six sound simulation presets to imitate the sound of an iPad, of TV speakers, of a small home theater in a box, and more. The room can also be tuned to X-Curve film standards, as well as 5.1 channel HD broadcast standards.

      According to Joe Disanto, EP/Partner of Therapy Studios, “We started out thinking we just needed some room isolation, but after Tony and team took over we ended up with so much more. The room sounds great and we're amazed they were able to make it all happen on such short notice. You guys rock!"

      Tuesday, December 18, 2012

      Project Case Study: South of Market

      PMI is a team of highly organized and seasoned professionals who sweat the details. In fact, we’ve been known to spend dozens of hours on wiring diagrams alone! Our services run the gamut from room design and layout through to audio + video commissioning and calibration.  We offer excellent project management to orchestrate any level of process, from the simplest project to the most complex.

      Having designed and engineered more than 500 purpose-built and multi-purpose entertainment spaces, we've pretty much seen it all, and yet we continually encounter new challenges along the way. Our expertise lies in the detail with which we approach each project, and the many tools and resources we’ve developed to fulfill our mission of “doing it the right way.” 

      This project is a sleek, modern home with an industrial flair in the trendy South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco. The interior of the home feels cool and spacious, not what you’d expect from condensed city-living. The bones of this home are a highly complex, high-end commercial-grade infrastructure. Even though it’s a residence, it has a very organized and mechanical structure – perfect in every way.

      The homeowners love to entertain and wanted to create a space that could function as screening room, live performance space, art gallery and workshop, recording studio, and dance club. Giving new meaning to the term “multi-purpose room,” the space has been designed to go from a sit-down banquet to a heart-pumping disco with remote-controlled ease. We call it NASA meets RAVE!

      Because the house is basically a steel and concrete structure, any sound hitting attached sheet rock radiates throughout the entire building. The first challenge became how to turn the building into a high-performance entertainment space whle maintaining sound comfort in adjoining rooms. Another challenge was sound isloation from the outside areas, including noisy outside traffic. To achieve these goals involved a multitude of painstaking details.

      Working with builder Larry Christiani, PMI created a highly detailed plan set, and four drafts later, we were ready to start the build-out.

      With the many structural materials used in this building – including corrugated aluminum pan deck, red steel beams, tension cable – the visible eye cannot really see that the finished architectural ceiling is actually flown several feet below the structural lid of the room – and it’s done so with a resiliently mounted sound isolated ceiling. Painstaking care was taken with each and every one of the penetrations into the ceiling, including the down-lighting, sprinklers, cables, and large format speaker mounts.


      The client wanted a clean aesthetic so we settled on a wood paneled look.  Had we used regular wood it would have created a giant echo chamber. We specified Murano acoustical wood paneling which is porous to sound. This  allowed us to install combinations of four-inch-thick absorption panels and diffusion strips behind some of the areas to optimize the reverberant field.
      This is the back window of the "rave" room which looks onto an alley with nearby neighbors; double-layer, three-quarter inch plate glass windows were installed to preserve privacy.

      Plumbing isolation collars were used throughout inside the walls in order to reduce rattling from vibrations in spots where metal touches metal. These small details make a big difference!

      Acoustically-rated ductwork is installed throughout, in order to reduce noise and sound transmission through the HVAC system.
      Shallow profile subwoofers are flown from the ceiling on vibration isolation spring hangers.  

      The surround channel speakers are housed at ceiling-level, attached to a truss that motors up and down on flown cables. These can be lowered to approximately seven feet off the floor so they’re positioned at the optimum height during a film presentation. There are also sound reinforcement speakers in the corners for dance music/nightclub speakers which play at an incredibly high level of sound pressure. The ceiling area conceals deep absorption for broadband control of the sound reflection decay time. 

      Given their different functions, speakers were carefully selected to ensure that the direct and reflected soundfield ratios were optimized for the overall acoustical character of the perforated wood-wall schemes. Because of the range of uses for the multi-purpose room, digital signal processing and channel routing are implemented with a multichannel BSS Audio processor. The sound system configuration and performance flexibly convert to adapt to the room usage and are all seamlessly controlled but the Crestron automation system. Multiple subwoofers were installed in the ceiling to distribute multiple points of bass radiation for smoother standing waves.

      PMI commissioned Triad CinemaPlus speakers behind the screen. The screen has 2-way masking plus a fabric cover that comes down to protect the screen when not in use. Wood is Murano Acoustics paneling, wood which is acoustically open to let sound go through it and into the absorptive materials behind it.

      LET'S PARTY! 
      Inside the big window that faces the street outside, we engineered a motorized set of vertical blinds that are all black on one side to shut out the light, and are all white on the other side so the client can project still or moving images onto the window.  

      PMI also designed the rest of the home to include audio-video playback in all of the indoor and outdoor spaces so it was important to acoustically design and tune these rooms, as well. 

      Manny LaCarrubba and Bob Levy testing the polarity of sound reinforcement speakers.

      Manny and Bob with multiple acoustic test microphones for spatial averaging of the speaker response.

      Here's an almost-final view looking around the room:

      Ultimately, this project gave the client exactly what they wanted: a truly multi-purpose entertainment space with a high level of function, remarkable flexibility, and style!