Veteran composer and songwriter Jim Funk was considering a number of mixing console options for Studio A at his newly built Funk Studios in Salt Lake City, ultimately deciding to implement a 48-channel Solid State Logic (SSL) Duality.
Funk’s selection process began with discussions with Phill Scholes, SSL’s Los Angeles-based vice president of Technical Operations. “After a few conversations I was a lot more educated on SSL, their preamps and what the Duality could offer,” says Funk, who recently unveiled the flagship control room with a Duality Pro-Station SuperAnalogue console as its centerpiece.
Initially conceived as a two-room facility, since expanded to three, Funk Studios can handle projects of all styles and types, from vocal overdubs and mixing all the way up to large orchestral and choral tracking sessions. Jerry Steckling of JSX Audio designed the complex, which offers the 1,300-square-foot Studio A tracking space, dubbed The Stage, offering 23-foot ceilings, custom variable acoustics and four iso booths, one housing a Yamaha C7 grand piano with Disklavier.
Funk and his staff were already predisposed toward SSL consoles, having installed an XL Desk in Studio B a year before the Duality arrived. “I think a big part of the decision to go with the Duality was the experience I was having on the XL Desk for the first year that I was working for the company,” says recording engineer Stoker White, who works for Funk’s musical theater production track-recording business.
“I was using a variety of outboard mic pres but always returning and summing through the XL Desk,” White continues. “As far as using it as returns while I was tracking, I loved the easy availability of the bus compressor. When we started looking at SSL consoles for Studio A, having used the XL Desk for a year, I felt really comfortable with the sound I’d been getting.”
Freelance recording and mixing engineer Michael Greene primarily works out of Studio C, which accommodates immersive IMAX 12.0 and Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 mixing projects as well as overdubbing, using its associated iso booth, equipped with a Yamaha grand piano, or tielines from The Stage. Greene’s large-scale tracking projects in Studio A have include jazz records as well as film and video game scores.
“I’ve done a couple of jazz records that were tracked live off the floor where I’ve done a live mix back into Pro Tools. Most of the time that’s the mix that gets released. Part of that is budget, but part of it is because it just sounds great,” he says. “The overall sonics really work for me. The console sounds super warm and clear. It has a lot of warmth and bigness, but it still has a lot of clarity, without being harsh.”
Both engineers also enjoy working with the Pro-Station, a version of Duality that offers an alternate center section layout, wrapping the two bays of 24-channels around the operator. “The HUI integration in the Duality is spectacular,” says Greene. “I don’t even realize or ever feel like I’m using HUI protocol, which I couldn’t say when I have used it with other control surfaces. It’s really bullet-proof and integrated in a way that’s really stable and effective.”
Studio A’s control room also includes a wide selection of outboard equipment and a deep microphone locker. “I had 110 mic preamps before we bought the Duality,” reports Funk, “as well as different compression and EQ options.”
Newer pieces including nearfield monitors, cabling and other items were acquired through Performance Audio in Salt Lake City. “They’ve been great friends over the years and have always supported me in my craziness,” he says. Gadget Hopkins, Executive Vice President at Westlake Pro in Los Angeles, also supported the new build-out. “Westlake held our hand through the whole construction period. That’s how I met Jerry Steckling,” says Funk.
“Jerry has made something stunning and beautiful with both the control room and the studio,” says Greene. “Jim and Jerry have built a really special room, one of those rare rooms where everything shines and sounds beautiful.”