August 2, 2012
Every once in a while, a product comes along that could become a game changer in the industry. This is the story of one such product. Before I tell you what it is, you should know that my voice is for hire, but my opinion is not.
Born of a Dutch father and a Spanish mother, Guillermo Jungbauer worked as a plant manager in the automotive industry. In his spare time he played the saxophone, but he was always worried that his music might disturb the neighbors.
He had used several prefab isolation booths to keep the decibel level down, but when it was time to move into a new apartment in Barcelona, Guillermo wanted something more stylish and more portable. Something that looked like design furniture, but it would have to be as easy to put together as the things you buy from IKEA.
There was one problem: such a booth did not exist.
In Europe, there were at least fifteen different manufacturers, and none of them offered what Guillermo was looking for. So, he decided to develop it himself.
THE SOUND BOOTH REIMAGINED
Jungbauer imagined a beautiful looking booth, made of building blocks that would fit together seamlessly without using any screws.
On paper it was a great idea, but sound engineers and industrial designers told him it was impossible, especially because he wanted the booth to have double walls and a door. Time and again he was told: “It can’t be done.”
This was five years ago.
It took Guillermo two more years to perfect a concept he named the Studiobricks cabin system, a self-assembly acoustic booth unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
These are the building blocks or bricks:
Here is the finished product:
Guillermo’s first customers were woodwind and brass players who -just like Jungbauer- needed an isolated space to be able to practice at home. Soon, he received inquiries from pianists, string players and drummers. Then recording studios and post-production facilities got wind of it.
By the end of 2011, 170 units were sold all over Europe, in Asia, India and Australia. This year, Studio Bricks sales will top 250 units.
STUDIOBRICKS COME TO THE STATES
Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan built a 12′ x 8′ Studiobricks recording space, right into a residential apartment in New York.
Gahan’s engineer/producer Kurt Uenala told SonicScoop:
“They’re modules (Soundbricks, PS) that are really Legos – they snap into each other, but they’re made of sandwich wood and rubber,” he notes. “It’s been here since September, and it really works sonically and in terms of providing acoustic isolation. It reins in the sound not just of the vocals being recorded, but also of productions and mixes – we have to be able to turn it up.
I’ve got to admit that first and foremost I fell for the look – it’s beautiful. This is a very beautiful apartment, and whatever we do has to look good. That was maybe more my prerequisite, because I thought it would be really sad to put a carpeted wooden room in here.” (click here for the full story and pictures)
Studiobricks offers standard solutions, but a lot of cabins are made to order. Jungbauer:
“Once the customer places an order, we create a Serial Number and PDF with the cabin. We ask for exact measurements of the room (height!), we want to know where the wire tunnel has to be drilled, where the door and window have to go, the color of the booth, et cetera. For professional studios we can also print digital photos and logos on the bricks in order to create a unique look (see picture below).
click image to enlarge
Computer Numerical Controlled machinery (CNC), ensures that each lightweight element fits precisely without gluing, screwing, sawing or sealing. A small Studiobricks booth can be assembled by one person within an hour, no building skills required. All the blocks are numbered and installation instructions come in many languages.
We are available on Skype to assist with the assembly process. So far, only one customer in Mumbai India asked for Skype assistance, and after 2 hours the whole studio was ready.”
I asked Jungbauer if an existing model can be expanded by adding more bricks. He said:
“Yes, we already have customers who bought a vocal booth and now want to connect it to a control room. To change one brick with a window brick is no problem, and if you change the frame construction you can add bricks in 1ft steps.”
ADDING ACOUSTIC PANELS
If you are familiar with isolation booths, you know that these spaces need to be treated with dampening materials. Otherwise the sound waves will just bounce off the walls the way they do in your bathroom. Studiobricks booths are no exception, and that’s why they come with panels made by a rapidly growing company from Portugal: Vicoustic.
Vicoustic might not be very well known in North America, but they have installed soundproofing solutions in Russia, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore, The Netherlands and in many other countries.
Studiobricks cabins come with adjustable Vicoustic Wavewood acoustic panels.
Another problem small studios have is ventilation. Studiobricks offers a CE certified Studio Ventilation Kit at $430 that delivers an almost silent flow of air (see picture). It can be controlled wirelessly and placed inside or outside the booth. Other ventilation systems can be connected to the booth as well.
A VOICE-OVER SOLUTION
Because of increasing demand from the voice-over market, Studiobricks will soon release their latest product, the Studiobricks ONE, a 4′ by 3′ booth, retailing at $3,468 (depending on the exchange rate of the weakening Euro).
Add an estimated $900 for packaging and transportation (prices depend on your location), an optional ventilation system, and you’ll end up paying about $4,788 + taxes. That’s still cheaper than a 3.5′ x 3.5′ double-walled Enhanced WhisperRoom™ ($5,870 -shipping not included).
“It looks like they are built at a very high degree of precision and care, and from an esthetic standpoint, they definitely kick the butts of anything I have seen. These things apparently perform really well. I was looking at the specs, and even their standard model seems to outperform the WhisperRoom and the VocalBooth, until you get into the highest levels of both of those products, which gets really expensive.
It’s pretty darn impressive for something that’s prefabricated. I have never seen anything quite like it before. If they can get that thing over here to the states at a reasonable cost, it’s going to be a major competition for the likes of WhisperRoom™, VocalBooth.com™ and Gretch-Ken.”