After a year of intensive building and redevelopment, mastering engineer Lewis Hopkin has moved Stardelta Audio Mastering into a new state-of-the-art home even deeper into the heart of Dartmoor National Park in Devon.
Housed in a former Victorian Baptist church that has been completely renovated from the ground up, Stardelta now boasts a fully active PMC MB2S XBD-A speaker system that Hopkin describes as 'absolutely phenomenal'.
"I had PMC monitors in my previous studio but as I was moving into a much larger room it made sense to invest in a larger system," he explains. "On the recommendation of John Goldstraw, of Hathor Audio, I bought the MB2 XBD-A System because it is more suited to the space I am now working in. Due to the larger number of LF drivers in this system, the speakers have to work less hard to produce the SPL and this results in lower distortion and a more effortless presentation of low frequencies. The detail and response of this system is exceptional and fills the room with a very wide sweet spot."
With more than 20 years' experience as an engineer, Lewis Hopkin set up Stardelta with one primary goal to provide artists with an a service that gave them the best masters possible in terms of processing quality with a firm belief in analogue methodology and practice. The combination of high end hardware and Hopkin's own skills as a mastering engineer has made Stardelta one of the busiest and most successful facilities in the UK. Indeed, its success was highlighted at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards this year where all but one of the tracks nominated in the Dance Recording category was mastered by Hopkin, including the winner, Rather Be, by Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne. If this wasnt enough Lewis has also mastered 18 UK national chart number one singles in the last couple of years and countless top 40 hits, along with several number one albums. All on his beloved PMC speakers!
"We attract projects from right across the musical spectrum, and from both major and independent record labels," Lewis Hopkin says. "We are always busy, so it was difficult having to shut down while we moved into the new facility. Since re-opening at the end of January, I've been working flat out trying to catch up. It was a pretty major undertaking making sure that everything was up and running to my exacting standards from the word go."
The new facility was designed by Thomas Jouanjean, head of Belgian-based Northward Acoustics. Hopkin was particularly keen to use Northward Acoustics due to their uncompromising design policy and exceptional attention to detail at all stages. The room is designed using the Northward Front to Back Design philosophy. This, says Hopkin, gives a very well controlled, highly accurate acoustic space but with a natural feel.
"Thomas has created a marvellous room," Hopkin adds. "The combination of his well-honed acoustic design and MB2 XBD-A speakers has given me a facility that sounds unbelievably good. Artists who visit are open mouthed when they hear how great their music sounds in this room. What I really love about PMC is how exciting they are to listen to. In this particular application they could not be better implemented because the room was designed around the speakers so there is zero compromise. So often monitors are just put in a room with no thought to how they will perform. In this instance every part of the studio design has been made to match every part of the PMC design. Even after a long 18-hour day I am still enjoying myself thanks to the performance of these monitors."
Alongside its PMCs, Stardelta Audio Mastering is also equipped with SADiE workstations, Prism Sound ADA-8XR multichannel converters, a Neumann cutting lathe, a Maselec mastering console and a wide range of other processors chosen for their exceptional sound quality. The building has been extended to incorporate a reception area, an anteroom, a separate central machine room and an entirely new second floor, which houses the Stardelta/Deltadisc offices and another similar size studio based around a 24 track Studer A800 for Hopkin's own use.
There is scope for live vinyl cuts and all sorts of other delights with this configuration; let's see what the future holds, Hopkin says.
While it would have been very easy for Hopkin to stay in his old facility, the opportunity to build something really special in an old church that needed saving was just too good for him to resist.
"I couldn't be happier," he says. "Starting a studio build from the foundations up is really the only way to cut out any possible compromise. The results speak for themselves."