SPICE HOUSE SOUND... A WSDG SHOWPLACE AND - - - A PROVING GROUND FOR INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY
July 07, 2014 --
Spice House Sound, a new recording studio offering innovative acoustics and an abundance of singular technology, has set up shop in a gut-renovated former Philadelphia stable circa 1885. In 2011 (21-year-old) 'audio-impassioned gear head' Alex Santilli made a cold call to Walters-Storyk Design Group, (www.wsdg.com) Architect/Acoustician John Storyk. Little did either of them imagine they were embarking on an epic journey of experimentation and discovery.
The spacious live room boasts a 25' ceiling height. WSDG Project Manager Matthew Ballos reports the groundbreaking, ceiling cloud is a 'one of a kind marvel of (mechanical) engineering. "Taking full advantage of the elevation, we wanted to provide Alex with the flexibility to track widely diversified sessions. Working together we came up with a motorized, track-mounted acoustic absorption unit, which gives new meaning to the term "ceiling cloud." We also employed more traditional, wall-mounted variable acoustic treatments. These two systems work hand-in-hand to provide the space with the versatility of sounding like a large live room or a small intimate space."
"Spice House Sound is a gem," John Storyk remarked. "Alex Santilli has a genuine reverence for sound. And, he's an innate 'gear whisperer.' He can breath new life into vintage technology most of us would just shovel dirt over. I was intrigued by his vision for the studio, and found him to be a hand's-on prodigy. He personally implemented the entire systems integration, pulling every wire himself. We appreciate projects that we can have fun with and learn something from. Spice House fulfilled both those wishes."
At age 13, Alex Santilli went from building Legos to assembling computers. At 16 he began designing custom speakers. By 19 he was mixing on Pro Tools, and had began restoring 'dead' analog consoles. In 2009 a local studio owner hired him to 'resurrect' expired gear. Before long, Santilli had restored his console and outboard gear, rewired the entire studio, was engineering sessions and, eventually managing the studio. Two years later he was ready to build his own.
"The building provided us with about 2000 sq. ft. of usable space," Santilli says. "Our live room has a 650 sq. ft. foot print, our goal was to maximize its volume. The room opens to a cavernous 16,000 cubic feet. Our 120 sq. ft. iso booth can function as an overflow mix station. A semi-isolated 90 sq. ft. sound lock can double as a recording space and, it adds to the overall flexibility of the studio," he adds. "At 400 sq. ft. the fully isolated, room-with-in-room, control room comfortably accommodates 10 and, its' ceiling slopes from 10 to 14 feet. Taking full advantage of this height, a loft area was created above the control room, iso booth and sound lock. This area acts as a home for the operable ceiling cloud when it's not in use. All spaces have been wrapped in reclaimed barn wood, which enhances the vibe and amplifies the beauty of the studio. And, band members can actually record from the Control Room roof if they're looking to hit some especially high notes."
Walters-Storyk Design Group has designed over 3500 media facilities worldwide. Credits include Jimi Hendrix's 1969's Electric Lady Studios; NYC's Jazz At Lincoln Center and Le Poisson Rouge; broadcast facilities for The Food Network, ESPN, and WNET; major education complexes for NYU and Berklee College of Music Boston and Valencia, Spain; media rooms for Hoffman La Roche, and other corporate clients. Recent projects include NYC's TEC award winner Jungle City Studios and private studios for Green Day, Jay-Z, Timbaland's Tim Mosley, film composer Carter Burwell, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and Alicia Keys. WSDG principals John Storyk (an adjunct professor at Berklee College,) Beth Walters, Sergio Molho and Dirk Noy lecture frequently at universities and industry events, and contribute regularly to industry publications.WSDG has collaborated with such noted architects as Frank Gehry, Rafael Vinoly, Norman Foster, Oscar Niemeyer, Phillipe Stark and Nicholas Grimshaw. WSDG is a seven-time winner of the prestigious NAMM TEC Award for outstanding achievement in Acoustics/Facility Design. The firm maintains offices in NY, SF, LA, Miami, Buenos Aires, Belo Horizonte, Basel, Beijing, Barcelona, Mexico City, Mumbai and St. Petersburg.