It warms my heart to hear of the success of students I once had the honor and privilege to teach. I have always considered teaching the most honorable profession one can practice and the most gratifying job of all. When a student raises a question and as a teacher, you creatively work your answer from many angles till you see that sign of content on their face…. It’s priceless and I miss it.
I was invited to visit Play Station Music Studios in San Mateo, CA is known as SIE (Sony Interactive Entertainment) https://www.sie.com/en/index.html. The invitation came from a great and talented former student of mine, Scott Hanau, the music supervisor at play station. Scott has been working at Play Station for almost 16 years, pretty much since he graduated, super talented man, full of optimism and a big smile.
Upon arriving, I checked in through the front desk security, had to provide vaccination proof, and within a few minutes, Scott showed up in the lobby, It has been many many years since we last connected. He led me on a personal tour through the Sony facility and I have to say, calling it impressive would be an understatement.
Passing through the door of the first control room was such a rush, the room design gives you such a warm and fuzzy feeling when you first enter. A 7.2.4 surround system featuring Pelonis Signature Series speakers http://pelonissound.com/product3.html, a system that gave me goosebumps and that says a lot. Remember, I’m a live sound engineer and I’m used to mixing on massive sound systems that are pretty hard to compete but, what I heard in that control room was nothing short of brilliance, 7 surround, 2 subs, and 4 ceiling speakers made it all sound tight in a room perfectly treated acoustically. All mixed with great lighting and of course, the Avid S6 takes its center position surrounded by some very yummy outboard gear. In my opinion, this would be heaven on earth if dogs were allowed.
Through our chat in the control room, I learned that SIE (Sony Interactive Entertainment) has locations in S. California, London, and Japan just to name a few. The process of composing music for games is an intense and complicated task due to the multi-level collaboration on any giving music produced for any of their games. A score might be written in Los Angeles, recorded at the Abbey Road Studios https://www.abbeyroad.com, and mixed in San Mateo, CA.
Saying all that, I couldn’t help but ask the question of how could engineers from around the world collaborate accurately when listening to someone else’s work done in a different environment? The answer to that was very simple, make some of the audio rooms in different locations the same. The same speakers, outboard gear, console… Just build one studio and replicate it over and over again.
I did not know that the studios were built by former students as well, and one of them is Kristofer Hall, a great live sound engineer and a good personal friend of mine. Building and wiring a professional studio for a company as Sony is not an easy task, the demand for perfection is loud and clear and you must have the extreme knowledge to accomplish perfection in such a complicated technical studio design. Kristofer is a good-hearted man from the great state of Texas, a veteran who truly impressed me as a student, he was very energetic and involved student for sure. Upon talking with Kristofer Hall about the buildup of the studio, he told me that he built that studio with his own hands. At one time, he found an outboard compressor that was out of phase two days before they had to record, and he fixed it. Scott Hanau jokingly said “I think some of Kris’s blood and sweat will be locked in these walls forever”.
Moving on through the tour I was led into some of the studios at SIE and you can notice immediately the warm design that puts your soul at ease. It’s not every day that you get a recording studio with a window in a large room with exceptional acoustic treatment. Well done Sony.
Moving on to another control room fully equipped with some of the finest gear on the planet. My favorite is the API console that takes your breath away. Another well-designed room was added to the list but don’t let all that take away from the little individual editing rooms. This place is simply amazing.
Throughout the building, you can see some amazing instruments scattered all over the place plus all the memorabilia of Sony’s achievements throughout the years. Found a cool Guzheng, a Chinese version of a Zither.
It was a great experience visiting Play Station. Shout out to Scott Hanau and the entire staff. I ran into a bunch of other former students, and we went out to lunch reminiscing about a college that sadly doesn’t exist anymore.
I’m so glad I had the privilege to be a teacher to some of the most talented engineers in today’s market. Cheers!