Show Off Your Studio: Bassi Ólafsson’s gorgeous Icelandic space
Check out Bassi’s custom-designed high-spec studio in Iceland…
- Vintage Trident console
- Adam S3X-H monitors
- Pro Tools HD
- Neve Master Buss processor
Tell us about the studio…
Bassi Studios have always been a big part of my life. My father had one of the first multi-channel analogue studios in Iceland in the early 80s. When he and I decided to move closer to Reykjavík four years ago, we built a house in Hveragerði with two apartments and a home studio right in the middle of the apartments. It’s clearly the heart of our house. In his apartment, we put up a little ‘B studio’ so we can both work full-time on separate projects.
What gear do you have?
iMac i7, 4.2GHz/64GB/4TB SSD, Adam S3X-H, Adam Sub10 MkII, Yamaha HS 7, Antelope Audio Orion 32+ interface, PreSonus Quantum interface, Grace Design m905 monitor controller, UAD Satellite Octo, UAD Satellite Quad, vintage Trident 80B console, 4x Chandler Limited TG2, API 3124+, Universal Audio 4-710d, A-Designs Hammer 2 stereo EQ, Neve Master Buss processor, Retro Doublewide compressor, Drawmer 1968 compressor, Universal Audio 1176 compressor, 2x SPL Transient Designer, Tascam 16-channel tape machine, 4x Yamaha SPX90, various outboard reverbs and delays; Manley Reference Gold, Coles 4038 matched pair, Neumann U 87, AKG 414 B-ULS, Shure SM7B, Cascade X-155 and more.
Which DAW do you use and why?
I’ve been using Pro Tools HD since I started recording 15 years ago. When digital DAWs arrived in the 90s, my father sold the console and tape machine and bought an early version of Pro Tools. I learned how to use it and it’s definitely become my safe zone.
What is your favourite piece of gear?
One of my favourites is my set of Adam S3X-H speakers. If your work doesn’t translate well through these speakers, it really doesn’t matter how expensive your other gear is.
The monitors are just a pleasure to work on! Especially when combined with the Grace m905 monitor controller. Another of my favourites is the Neve Master Buss processor.
How often are you in your studio?
Having an office just next door has its benefits, but I try to find a balance between the studio and home, since it only takes me five seconds to get work!
How do you use your studio?
It’s a full-blown studio with a control room and a live room, so I track a lot of bands and artists here. Guests love the studio because of its cosy vibe, and it’s just 30 minutes outside Reykjavík. I’m also a session drummer, so I do a lot of drum recordings. There’s also this amazing view from our studio’s backyard, where you can watch the mountains for inspiration or just go berry-picking.
What’s next on your shopping list?
I have two compressors arriving in the next few weeks – the SSL bus compressor for drum-buss duties and a clone of the Fairchild 670 for character and tube colour for the master-buss duties (and for bass and vocal tracking) chained with the Neve Master Buss. I find plug-ins are getting real close to the hardware stuff, but the compression is always a little short on headroom and depth.
What’s your dream piece of gear?
I’ve been eyeing the Knif Soma EQ for some time… It’s just a beautiful musical EQ, extra smooth with a quality sound to it. Someday Mr. Knif… someday!
What is your top production advice?
Always keep an open mind, even when a client makes a crazy request: don’t say “no” or “it’s impossible”. Take that weird request, give it a chance and try to put your spin on it so both of you can walk away proud with the end product. It’s also important that you make the recording experience a memorable one for the client.
Any advice for someone starting out building a studio?
Take the amount of money you started out with for room treatment… and double it! It will save you a headache later on. I know you can buy an extra microphone, but that mic will never sound right in a poorly treated room. And your speakers will lie to you with unwanted flutter or build-up. If your track was a house, your foundation would be built on an uneven surface, making it a nightmare to finish. So treat your room.
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