Iguana Studios began in 1994 as a small project studio ”built by musicians for musicians,” as described by owner Vic Branco. Today, Iguana is a multiplatinum and state-of-the-art facility that has since earned itself a spot amongst the frontrunners of the diverse recording landscape in Canada. Over the past 25 years, the studio has worked with many great artists—something that Iguana owner Branco takes great pride in. The list includes some of Canada’s brightest multiplatinum stars: Nelly Furtado, Alessia Cara, Billy Talent, Amanda Marshall, Sum 41, Three Days Grace, and many more. Iguana continues to support and help artists on their journey towards success and remains one of Canada’s longest-running premier recording facilities.
Vic Branco was approached in 2018 by industry peers to install Atmos technology in his studio, but he felt the technology wasn’t advanced enough yet. Iguana was intrigued by immersive technology from the start but felt, at the time, that it was meant more for home theatres. Some years later, in 2021, Branco noticed that immersive Dolby Atmos technology was improving and becoming more widespread, just still not widely present in Canada at that level, so he decided to upgrade to immersive sound to put Iguana ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, ongoing global supply chain issues put things on hold and finding the right set of speakers quickly to meet the exact Dolby Atmos requirements was shaping up to be difficult. The Dolby Atmos system has specific key requirements and a number of tolerances, which can be leveraged to make a configuration conform to the space, but the right set of speakers and calibration equipment are crucial to the process. The main work ahead for the project was to determine how to best accommodate the system into Iguana’s traditional audio control room and find the best speakers to compliment the Atmos system perfectly, as well as getting up and running fast.
To deliver the optimal immersive Dolby Atmos experience for recording artists and studio engineers, and make the set up as hassle-free as possible, Iguana Studios turned to SFM. A knowledgeable representative recommended to install Genelec speakers in the studio’s A Room for the best results, due to its size and ideal space disposition. That particular room is the studio’s main recording and mixing locale, which includes its famed SSL 4082 E/G recoding and mixing console (the very same board that produced recordings for A-list artists over its lifetime, among them, Aerosmith, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Diana Krall, Sting, and many others).
Branco had previously looked at various speaker options, but none seemed to be up to par for this project. However, after a comprehensive speaker demo by SFM, he immediately knew that Genelec would be the top choice, thanks to the built-in calibration and Genelec’s GLM 4.2 software, especially the GRADE reporting tool (Genelec Room Acoustic Data Evaluation) to help in the acoustical analysis of the room. SFM worked with valued Canadian partner Long & McQuade to help expedite the delivery of the Genelec speakers to Iguana Studios. In addition, the studio called upon experts like Mason Hasan from Commercial Business Services and Martin Pilchner and Giovanni Asselta of Dolby Labs in South America for the install. Iguana’s own head engineer, Tiago Lima, also played an important role in the install of the Atmos system.
All the corners and the main sonic parameters of the room were measured with the help of Martin Pilchner’s expertise. He was able to fine tune the setup such as, Db, SPL, speaker positions, and angles based on Iguana’s room dimensions and the following speakers were then selected in collaboration with SFM: the Genelec 8351, 8040, and 7370 sub. More specifically, the studio’s new system consisted of a left-centre-right setup comprised of three Genelec 8351BPMs placed in front of the console, eight 8340AMPs as surrounds, and one 7370APM subwoofer at the far right of the room. The studio wanted to get up and running quickly with the new system and thankfully only some minor work was needed to accommodate the compact design of the Genelec speakers.
According to the studio’s owner, the Genelec speakers fit the bill perfectly in terms of sound and form factor. What’s more, the capabilities offered by the company’s Smart Active Monitoring system, in conjunction with Genelec’s Loudspeaker Management (GLM) software, provide a huge amount of control over the mixing environment. Tiago Lima of Iguana describes GLM as being a game-changer. It allows the user to enter the room’s specs and obtain an acoustical analysis of the room and, once that’s done, the software calibrates each individual speaker and corrects phasing, delay, volume, etc. When mixing in Atmos, it’s crucial to have a perfectly calibrated system. GLM provides a trustable sound, which is essential to create the best immersive mix experience possible. Branco also describes the Genelec loudspeakers and the platform overall as a class-leading system. He also points out how easy it was for him and Thiago to deal with room equalization/correction and a variety of other parameters using Genelec’s GLM software.
The recent install of the Genelec/Dolby Atmos system has enabled Iguana studio to not only be the first commercial Genelec Atmos studio in Canada to have immersive technology, but also make it widely accessible for bands and artists of all genres and budgets. Vic Branco and his crew describe the Genelec software as extremely precise and beneficial thanks to it eliminating guesswork in the control room. It’s very intuitive and there’s no need for third-party software.
Branco says that music is being forced to adapt these days, and one aspect that Iguana values is working with indie bands and give them an affordable option to mix in Atmos. Branco also sees
the possibilities for using the Atmos system for film projects, offering musicians the opportunity to get their music into the hands of music supervisors and filmmakers in a ready-to-use format.
Thanks to the new Genelec Atmos system, the studio engineers at Iguana are now able to be a lot more creative than they were in stereo. Instead of a limited stereo soundfield, Atmos allows for mixing in a 3D space to create an incredible real-life sound experience by placing instruments practically everywhere in the sonic spectrum, giving the listener the impression of being right in the room, live with the musicians.
Iguana Studios plans to keep serving their community of artist-creators through new and unique sonic experiences and remain a pioneer of the recording arts at the forefront of immersive sound technology as it evolves.
”We couldn’t be more thrilled with the results we’ve had thus far,” says Branco, ”and as for the future, well, let’s just say Thiago and I are feeling like this is going to be an amazing ride thanks to this monster system.”