"Goes without say: my most valuable asset is a pair of good ol’ ears, combined with 20 years of experience, and a vast knowledge of all things ambient, electronic, experimental, drone, dub, jazz, modern classical, pop, rock and all of its offshoots genres." - Raf 

An Accurate Listening Environment

Critical listening is probably the single most important part of any studio. You cannot correct what you cannot hear accurately. Our room is carefully treated for mastering and mixing. Renowned studio designer and acoustics consultant Jim Keller at Sondhus has extensively analyzed our studio for room modes, natural decays, and early reflections, laser aligning the monitoring speakers placement. This maximizes the stereo image “sweet spot” and addresses any constructive (or destructive) speaker boundary interference response (SBIR). Any measurable flutter echo, comb filtering, and standing waves has been eliminated with acoustic wall panels and bass traps from GIK Acoustics, thus creating a neutral environment for listening to your tracks.

Full Range Monitoring

Our monitoring path consist of dedicated mastering grade digital-to-analog converters, studio monitoring controller and high-end speakers. We've chosen the Barefoot MicroMain 27 speakers as our main monitors for their amazing transparency and accuracy translating to other listening environments and systems. They have an even frequency response 30Hz to 45kHz (±3dB) - from a big bottom, warm punchy midrange to a wide clear top end, at both low and high playback levels. They are wonderful for both mixing and mastering. As the saying goes: “Barefoots don't lie!”

As a backup reference, we have a pair of Tyler Acoustics D1's, a quintessential speaker system at many world-class mastering houses. For crosschecking mixes and masters on headphones, we utilize a pair of AKG K702 Reference Studio Headphones – arguably a standard at many mixing facilities, and Focal's new professional line Spirit.

The Mastering Section

Signal Path – The audio leaves the computer via CraneSong's HEDD 192, a high-end AD/DA converter considered by many to be a workhorse. From the converter, it goes through a 100% analogue mastering console hand-built by Maselec. In the console's inserts, we've added premium and customized hardware: it's got everything from tube compression and valve equalizers to tape reel saturation. This can add lots of character and warmth to any recording, though most significantly to digital audio recordings mixed in-the-box. Once the signal is processed, it goes back to the HEDD, and into the computer for any final edits. Depending on the situation, project, and content, we may utilize mastering software applications for very transparent processing, fine editing, and precise sequencing.

Mastering Console – We've selected a Maselec MTC-1X as our master transfer console. It's a very neutral piece of gear with mastering-grade gains, a stereo width control, M-S with gain controls, parallel processing, cut-off filters, and an elliptical filter for vinyl cutting. The advantage of this console is having all the mastering gear connected directly to it, avoiding any potential signal degradation on patchbays. It is also fantastic for A/B comparisons at every stage of the chain, you can always reference back to the original mixdown rather easily, thus making the workflow efficient.

The Mixing Section

Mixing Console – We are a big fan of the SSL sound: it's clean, transparent, and versatile. You can mix a rock album, an electronic album, or a quiet classical record with it. You've heard the SSL sound on countless classic albums – everything from seminal records like Metallica's “Master of Puppets” and Nirvana's “Nevermind” to The Cure's “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me” and The Happy Mondays' “Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches.” Of course, arguably the most legendary creative use of an SSL console comes courtesy of Phil Collins and his producer Hugh Padgham for the drum sound on “In The Air Tonight.” You can read the full story here.

The customized 40-channel SSL summing mixing system at BKS has the same SuperAnalogue signal path as their flagship AWS 9000 model. We've also added another SSL secret weapon: the G-series Buss Compressor, which we use as an insert on the master bus channel for that classic, SSL sound. Lastly, we've added a pair of preamps and other outboard pieces containing Carnhill transformers, in case a particular project needs a more heavily “coloured” sound (think of the Neve sound). Our goal here is adaptability to a multitude of mixing situations and musical styles, so we feel the BKS setting is a very modular one, whilst keeping a small footprint.

The Equipment List

ANALOGUE SWEETENING

  • Empirical Labs EL-7 FATSO
  • Elysia XFilter EQ
  • Foote Control Systems P3S Class-A Mastering Compressor (Custom)
  • Foote Control Systems High-Pass Filter (Custom-built)
  • Kush Audio Clariphonic Dual-channel Parallel EQ
  • Manley Massive Passive Tube EQ (Mastering Version)
  • Manley Stereo VariMu Mastering Tube Limiter Compressor (Modified)
  • Millennia NSEQ-2 Parametric EQ
  • Otari MX5050 1/2” reel-to-reel tape machine
  • Rupert Neve Designs 511 500 Series Mic Pre-Amps (matched pair)
  • Shadow Hills Industries Mastering Compressor
  • Siemens W295b Discrete Class-A Dual Solid State EQ (Vintage, 1960's)
  • Solid State Logic G-Series Stereo Buss Compressor
  • Summit EQP-200A Dual Tube Pultec EQ
  • Thermionic Culture Vulture Mastering Plus Stereo Valve Distortion
  • Universal Audio LA-610 Classic Tube Recording Channel

ANALOGUE MASTERING TRANSFER CONSOLE

  • Maselec MTC-1X  Stereo Mastering Console

ANALOGUE MIXING DESK

  • Solid State Logic 40-channel summing system (X-Desk  + X-Panda)

ANALOGUE-TO-DIGITAL  PATH

  • CraneSong HEDD 192 AD/DA Converter

DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATIONS AND TOOLKIT

  • Ableton Live 9.5 Suite
  • Audiofile Engineering Triumph 2.5 (DDP Authoring)
  • Avid ProTools 11
  • Bitwig Studio 1.3.15
  • Brainworx Bx Limiter
  • Brainworx Bx Meter
  • Brainworx M/S EQ and Dynamic EQ plugins
  • FabFilter Pro Total Bundle plug-ins (Pro Q2, Pro MB, etc)
  • Goodhertz  AU plug-ins
  • iZotope Alloy 2
  • iZotope Insight metering
  • iZotope Nectar 2
  • iZotope Ozone 7
  • iZotope RX 6 Audio Repair Toolkit
  • Native Instruments Komplete 11
  • PSP Audioware plugins
  • SoundToys Native Effects V5
  • Universal Audio Apollo 16 MKII equipped with UAD-2 powered plugins (x 2 )
  • Universal Audio Satellite OCTO UAD-2 accelerator (x 2 )
  • Voxengo plug-ins

MONITORING AND ROOM ACOUSTICS

  • Barefoot MM27 Monitor Speakers
  • Bel Canto C5i Integrated Amplifier
  • Crane Song Avocet Discrete Class A Studio Controller
  • GIK Acoustics Softit Bass Traps
  • GIK Acoustics 244 Bass Traps
  • GIK Acoustics Monster Bass Traps
  • GIK Acoustics Freestanding Bass Traps
  • Sound Anchor ADJ-27 Speaker Stands (Custom)
  • Sterling Modular Plan A Desk
  • Sterling Modular Versa II 2-Bay Rack
  • Tyler Acoustics Decade Series D1 Speakers

OUTBOARD EFFECT UNITS

  • API 500-6B Lunchbox
  • Chase Bliss Audio Gravitas Tremolo
  • Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl Chorus/Vibrato
  • Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall Delay
  • Earthquake Devices Avalanche Run Stereo Delay and Reverb
  • EarthQuaker Devices Transmisser Resonant Reverberator
  • Echoplex Maestro Sireko Tape Echo (Vintage, 1978)
  • Ekdahl Moisturizer Spring Reverb unit
  • Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Reverb
  • Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail
  • Empress Effects Reverb
  • Eventide H3000 D/SE Ultra-Harmonizer
  • Eventide H9 Harmonizer effects processor
  • Eventide Pitchfactor Harmonizer
  • Eventide Space Reverb
  • Eventide TimeFactor Delay
  • Industrial Electric Echo Degrader
  • Industrial Electric RM-1N
  • Lexicon Super Prime Time M97 delay
  • MIDIVERB II by Alesis
  • Montreal Assembly Count To Five looper
  • Moog MF-101 Lowpass Filter
  • Moog MF-104M Analog Delay x 2
  • Moog MF-108M Cluster Flux
  • Moog MF-105M MIDI MuRF x 2
  • Pro Co RAT Distortion (Vintage)
  • Retro Mechanical Labs 432k Distortion
  • Retro Mechanical Labs Electron Fuzz Custom
  • Roland Space Echo RE-201 tape delay
  • Roland Chorus Echo RE-301 tape delay
  • Snazzy FX Wow & Flutter (LTD edition/custom) delay
  • Strymon Flint Tremolo & Reverb
  • Studio Digitech Quad 4
  • Zvex FuzzFactory Distortion
  • Zvex Inventobox Distortion

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

  • ARP Odyssey Module Analog Synthesizer
  • Aztec Death Whistle (x 2)
  • DSI Tetra Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer
  • Epiphone Les Paul Baritone electric guitar (customized by Chris Tatalias)
  • Fender American Standard Jazz bass guitar
  • Fender American Standard Precision bass guitar
  • Fender American Vintage '62 Jaguar reissue electric guitar (modified)
  • Fender Jaguar MIJ electric guitar (modified)
  • Fender Jazzmaster MIJ electric guitar (customized by Chris Tatalias)
  • Gibson Les Paul Studio electric guitar
  • Guild JF4-NT acoustic guitar (vintage)
  • Guild Starfire III semi-electric guitar
  • KORG MS-20 (modified)
  • Moog Minitaur Analog Bass Synthesizer
  • Rickenbacker 330/12 12-string electric guitar (modified)
  • Simon & Patrick Luthier Woodland parlor guitar

MISCELLANEOUS

  • AKG K702 Reference Studio Headphones
  • BeyerDynamic MC 930 microphones (matched stereo pair)
  • Blue Baby Bottle Class-A Cardioid Condenser Microphone
  • Focal Spirit Pro Reference Studio Headphones
  • Native Instruments  Kontrol S88
  • Radial Engineering ProRMP Passive re-amping device x 4
  • Redco Audio cables (custom-built)
  • Samson S-Patch Plus patchbays x 4
  • Sunn Sceptre amplifier (vintage ’68 original)
  • Sunn 4 x 10 cabinet (vintage ’69 original)