Music & Audio Production

Balik Studio is one-of-a-kind among the world’s music recording facilities, offering a modern hybrid music production workflow alongside the production of gourmet smoked salmon in a 300-year-old farmhouse in the rolling hills of rural northeast Switzerland. The studio’s control room recently underwent a renovation that included the installation of a Solid State Logic Duality Fuse Pro-Station SuperAnalogue™ mixing console. SSL’s distribution partner for Switzerland, MGM Audio, supplied the console.

According to owner Peter G. Rebeiz, a lifelong musician, composer and producer, the main reason for overhauling the studio and outfitting it with the latest music production technologies, including the new mixing console as well as a new DAW system, was simple. “I really wanted to make this among the best studios in Europe,” says Rebeiz, who is also a board member of the Montreux Jazz Foundation and the Montreux Jazz Café. “And if you want to build a studio that can work for everybody you need to have an SSL.”

The right sonic ingredients

In 1992 Rebeiz, who is CEO and president of fine foods brand Caviar House & Prunier, took over a business at Balik Farm that was handcrafting smoked salmon according to a 100-year-old Russian recipe from the time of the Romanov tsars. In 1996 he opened a residential recording studio on the top floor of the farmhouse that was designed by U.K.-based acoustic and studio design consultant Andy Munro. It features a spacious live room that can accommodate a classical ensemble or jazz big band and over the years has attracted clients such as Herbie Hancock, Pepe Lienhard, Pippo Pollina, Michael von der Heide and Gölä. Today, the two businesses continue to operate from the same location, which is roughly 50 km (30 miles) east of Zürich.

Installing the SSL Duality Fuse Pro-Station, a version of the console that provides the operator with integrated hands-on hardware control over the DAW, made perfect sense for today’s hybrid production methods, says Gögs Andrighetto. A veteran freelance studio and live sound engineer, Andrighetto helped repair and restore Balik Studio to full operation during the coronavirus pandemic and continues to make the facility his homebase. “A keyboard and mouse don't usually fit very well with an analogue console, but the Pro-Station fits perfectly. That was important for me, because 99% of my work is with the computer,” he says.

“But, of course, the most important thing about the console is the sound,” Andrighetto continues. “We do a lot of classical recordings — and pop and rock music — so we wanted a really clean microphone preamp. And for classical recording, this is really the best microphone preamp.”

Having completed about half a dozen projects since the new console was installed, Andrighetto has had plenty of opportunities to evaluate the features of the Duality Fuse, especially the integrated Fusion analogue processor. “I love to have the Fusion on the master bus because it's really musical,” he reports. “If I want to add a little bit of drive, more highs or less lows, I can do everything I need to do in Fusion. I always have the Fusion in Mix A and if I want to add an outboard compressor or EQ, I put that in Mix B. The console is a perfect fit with the analogue gear that we have here.”

A rich diversity of projects

Rebeiz produces many of the projects that come through Studio Balik, he says, and he also likes to support artists just getting started in the business by helping them record their first album. As for recent work, he is especially excited about an ongoing project at Studio Balik that spotlights the first and last violas, now owned by a Swiss foundation, made by the Italian master luthier Antonio Stradivari, in 1672 and 1734 respectively.

“It's not every day that you have musicians walking in with 50 or 60 million dollars-worth of instruments and start playing in your room. It’s quite a unique thing, so we're filming everything and making a movie,” Rebeiz says. “We're using the best mixing console, the very best microphones and the best recording devices. It has been thrilling, and we’re not finished yet.”

Rebeiz had hoped to install an SSL console when he originally opened Studio Balik, but analogue desks at that time were very big and potentially too heavy for the wooden floor of the old farmhouse, he says. Instead, he installed a brand of console that was less well known and could present a steep learning curve for anyone unfamiliar with its operation. “The decision to install this SSL Duality had a lot to do with the fact that I want to allow more people to come here, and I also want to make it more attractive for larger projects. I wanted a residential studio where you could go to create and compose,” he says, like George Martin’s AIR Montserrat, one of his favorite facilities. “I want to make it easy for people to come to the Alps in Switzerland and spend a week or two weeks. They will feel at home and immediately understand how everything works. That is the true power of SSL, apart from its wonderful sound, because SSL is an industry standard.”

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