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Old 31st August 2019
Northward's Avatar

And we're back to the original statement which is to say that it's not realistic to try and compare services from different companies that serve different types of projects (basically vastly different market segments: home studio, project studio, professional studios, test laboratories etc) and vastly different budgets which vary by at least a couple orders of magnitude (1x, 10x, 100x).

How some designers and companies manage their I.P. also varies substantially.

I appreciate and very much respect all the efforts that guys like Boggy and others put in sharing publicly their design topology and discussing them at length and so openly, but for a company like mine and our in-house FTB design this can never fly.

My opinion being that when the design topology is complex, has stringent performance benchmarks and overall constraints and took years of R&D and hundreds of thousands in investment to work out down to the finest detail, the worst that can happen to it is for it to become public. And that way make sure that down the line it gets a bad name from sub-par, lazy or bad implementations, low budget mostly visual copies etc. And it's not a question of *if* but *when*. You can't control who does what with your topology. "Oh, this room is an (insert name here) design": no, it's not. It's a half-baked sub-par version of it. And my company basically shoved buckets of R&D money and years of work out the window.

Investing in high-end designs is and must remain a label of trust and quality for clients (studio owner and the studio's clients), alongside the clear understanding that each design produced performs flawlessly and is fully certified and guaranteed to that particular standard. No matter where the room is in the world, it basically performs the same way.

So companies like mine will only share the very basics of their design / standards publicly. Only the clients get full access.

Some might say it's hard to trust this from the outside. To which I'd answer "fair enough" - but that also today give or take half the Billboard 100 has one way or another been through one of these rooms - either mixed or mastered or both. That many of the multinational companies that design the drivers used in your car, your home hi-fi, your studio monitors, your bluetooth TV soundbars etc. are using these rooms as test labs and reference test bed for their drivers and products testing.

Discussing designs online can be and often is interesting, but to me it's also a bit pointless to dig in the details if you have never experienced it or have the sufficient technical background to understand the underlying principles that are certainly not straightforward for most, contrary to what some may think. Or what some snake oil "revolutionary" products company want you to think. What a forum like this one is about is discussing things using pretty broad brush strokes.

These designs are complex systems of systems. On the one hand it's true that the advancement of CAD and computing power has helped simplify and streamline daily calculations and planning tasks, but on the other it also greatly complexified the designs by pushing the boundaries of what can be controlled and achieved and the level of detail that can be worked on. Which lead to a substantial leap in quality and control - and sophistication. Often beyond the spectrum of a casual forum conversation.

Also, presence by a designer on a forum and how much free advice (within reason) they give away on social media has little to do with the quality of their work. And a lot more to do with advertising and drawing attention. I always find it strange when I see guys able to post all day, everyday.

When on holiday or travelling for work I can post a little bit more. On a normal schedule all I can reasonably give is maybe 10-15 mins a week. Fellow designers like Wes Lachot and Francis Manzella who have a very serious pedigree are mostly offline. Most of us simply don't have the time to produce YouTube videos, tutorials, long articles or regular 3000 words posts.

All this to say, if you're in the market for a pro design (as in it makes financial sense for you as an engineer/producer to invest in such a facility) you have no other choice but browse the designer market seriously, go listen to at least 2-3 rooms and talk to the past clients about their experience. It means travel time and some expenses. But seeing the kind of investment a pro design requires, it's a drop in the sea.

Otherwise: buyer beware.