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Indian studios at par with the US: Andy Munro

Award-winning acoustic guru Andy Munro, who has designed studios for The Rolling Stones, U2 and AR Rahman, tells Deepali Dhingra that India’s music market is not ‘traditional’ anymore

Andy Munro’s association with India began 20 years ago, when he was asked to design a new studio at Famous Studios in Mahalakshmi. Munro has worked with The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Sting, U2 and Coldplay and has designed studios for AR Rahman, Salim Sulaiman, Kailash Kher and Ram Sampath, among others.

In India, Andy Munro has worked with Kailash Kher, Salim Sulaiman and Ram Sampath
In India, Andy Munro has worked with Kailash Kher, Salim Sulaiman and Ram Sampath

The Director of Munro Acoustics was the recipient of the Global Innovation in Studio Design Award at the Indian Recording Arts Awards (IRA) yesterday. We catch up with him to discuss his views on acoustic treatment and designs in the Indian music industry.

How has the sound of acoustic treatment changed over the years?
The days of large studios with varied acoustic environments and built-in monitor systems are more or less over, except for the top-end of the industry. New studios must be cost-effective and that means opting for smaller and multiplex production rooms to have quality recordings at an affordable cost.

Tell us about working with the biggest names in the industry.
The bigger the name the more complicated things get. I once flew to New York to discuss the design of U2’s new studio with their guitarist and technophile, The Edge. I spent three days waiting and, finally, got the information at an aftershow party. Also, the bigger the band, more the people who have a vested interest and that can make for arguments.

What does the Global Innovation in Studio Design award mean to you?
Awards encourage ambition in design and development. An Indian award is especially gratifying because it has taken many years of hard work to bring expertise to what was a very traditional music market. India has many gifted musicians who now have the same tools at their disposal as the best American and European studios.

Tell us about your forthcoming projects, especially in India.
At any time, we might be working on 10 or more projects, from LA to London to Mumbai. Right here, we have just finished facilities for Prime Focus and Sony Television and spaces of the likes of Asilo, Hardrock in Gurgoan, Chennai and Andheri and a few private studios. A new type of requirement from Bollywood got us working on studio quality acoustics and sound system for a private screening room, which is now called Light Box. We are working on quite a few on the same format for a few celebrities and production companies. We are just starting with the Dolby India Headquarters to design a state-of-the-art, multi-channel environment for their ATMOS sound system plus several private studios and music venues such as Blue Frog in Pune and Bengaluru, Playboy in Mumbai and Hyderabad, and Hard Rock Café Worli. We recently completed a totally sound-proof night club in the centre of a luxury London hotel. Guests are not disturbed by the 110dB sound system!

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