Published on Wednesday, 18 May 2005 19:47
With the closure of many high-end studios, the former international recording centres of Europe and America have given way first to Australia and Asia, and now to the Middle East. Sydney's Studios 301 and Beijing's Oasis are part of the new order, and now Kuwait's Awtar Studio is looking to join. The man behind the project is 36-year-old Abdul Moshin Al Sarawi, and he has set his sights high. Unremarkable from the outside, Awtar's doors open on a studio that would comfortably hold its own in London or New York. Behind the facade, the floors are all floating, the ceilings are hanging and springs sit between the building's cement walls and the acoustic walls to ensure a high level of acoustic isolation.
Inside there are three recording rooms. The main room, Al Arada, is centred on an AMS Neve Capricorn digital mixing console, a Pro Tools HD 192kHz digital recording system running on a Macintosh G5 computer, some prestige outboard equipment and heavyweight Genelec monitoring. 'We chose the Capricorn because it is the Rolls Royce of consoles,' Mr Al Sarawi explains. 'There are Ferarris, Porches and Lambourginis but still the Rolls Royce is the classic car. Similarly, there are a lot of consoles available but everyone dreams of working on a Capricorn. I love music and I am a very good listener, and I think Genelec is the best monitor in the world. You will only find Genelecs in the studio.'
The smaller rooms (one with a Yamaha 02R-96 console and the other with a Digidesign Control 24 control surface) also have Pro Tools HD systems and all the rooms are networked together allowing files to be shared, equipment pooled and the rooms to be used in any combination. There is also an arranging room with a Pro Tools 002 system, a Macintosh G5 and a lot of software. The Al Arada Pro Tools system has five processing cards and five digital I/O units giving 80 Pro Tools audio channels at the desk. For outboard there are Lexicon 960 and TC Electronic 6000 multichannel reverb processors, linked digitally to the console, Manley Massive Passive, Pultec, and Summit equalisers, Tube-Tech EQ and compressors, and an Avalon 747 compressor-limiter. The monitoring consists of a pair of enormous 1039As and a surround system of 1032s with a 7071A subwoofer. In keeping with the studio equipment, the microphone collection includes Neumann U87s, U89s and the new version of the M150, AKGs including C414s, the Blue Bottle and a good selection of dynamics. 'We are now starting to market ourselves seriously in Kuwait and around the Gulf,' Mr Al Sarawi says. 'People are starting to visit and being impressed by what they hear here. It will take time to prove ourselves, especially as this is such a new venture for Kuwait.'
The future also promises expansion of the studiofacilities in the form of a video editsuite and beyond. 'I'm looking to consolidate the audio rooms and then I have to complete the video edit suite, Mr Al Sarawi begins. 'Then I want to build The Plateau, a big studio for movie and advertising. There are going to be a lot of radio and television stations opening up too so there is plenty going on. The Middle East has been at a standstill for 20 years but now we are starting to move again.'