The Readeez Company, which makes educational videos for children, has just completed a fully featured AV facility, which also serves as founder Michael Rachap’s home. Situated in Atlanta’s booming Midtown, the studio blends historic ambience with eye-popping innovation. Renovations to the company’s loft in the 80-year-old building began in 2005 and included having a new main floor laid atop the original one, with a layer of sound-damping material between. Also, a wiring topology was implemented that runs gigabit ethernet and fibre channel throughout the house, plus an overhead conduit to escort cabling between the control room and a server closet that lives beneath the stairs.
One of the studio’s more prominent innovations sits at the center of the Big Room. It’s a rotating platform nearly 11 feet across, upon which rest three red-velvet theater seats, late of New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The motorized platform can be controlled wirelessly, along with the home’s other automated systems. The theater chairs and couch can be turned to face a 61-inch plasma display, flanked by an imposing pair of Genelec 1038B speakers.
“The Readeez Audio Kitchen acoustics are fascinating,” says John Storyk. “The 18-foot ceiling of the Big Room is gently domed — evidently the space enjoyed a previous incarnation as a ballroom. The result is a natural reverberation that imparts a sonic signature. I haven’t heard anything quite like it.” The control room presented Storyk with his biggest challenge. “Space was at a premium — just over 160 square feet were available at the outset,” he says. “We stole some footage from the Big Room, creating a sort of bay window that brings the mix position out amongst the players. Isolation was also an issue. There are neighbors below and next door so we built a room within a room. It may not be as quiet as a purpose-built studio, but you can definitely mix there with confidence. And,” Storyk adds, “the control room can be used as an iso booth to record narration and other program material.”
A trove of instruments old and new litters the premises. But the star is clearly the 6’1″ satin-finish Yamaha grand, outfitted with the company’s versatile Disklavier system. As to recording gear: Principal converters are Prism Sound’s Dream ADA-8XR, routing high-def audio to and from Pro Tools HD. A 24-fader ICON D-Command unit anchors the control room, framed by a pair of Genelec 8050s, with a Bryston amp sending signal to the Big Room.
Outboard equipment includes two API Lunch Boxes, one that floats around the house and one tethered to the control room’s patch bay. A Summit DCL-200 Compressor Limiter and TC-Helicon VoicePro are also hardwired to the 96-point bay. The big guns of the microphone arsenal are two Neumann U87s procured from a local Guitar Center. Mics by Sennheiser, Shure and AKG round out the cabinet.
Most of the Readeez animating work takes place in the studio’s eponymous kitchen. An 8-processor Mac Pro, packed with over two terabytes of on-board storage, sends audio through one of the home’s four Digi 002 interfaces. Genelec 8040s, a Dave Smith Poly Evolver synth and several tons of virtual instruments complete this tasty setup.
Flexibility is the hallmark of the complex. “I work in different rooms throughout the day,” says Rachap, “bouncing from machine to machine so it always feels fresh.” Audio tie lines to the two upstairs bedrooms, plus fast network connections, allow the entire house to function as a seamless creative tool.