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A flutter of Angel’s Wings

After three years' work, Angel's Wings Recording Studio & Arts Centre opens in Piantanicco, a small town in north-eastern Italy.

After working on the project for three years, Nico Odorico and Monica Zinutti recently opened Angel’s Wings Recording Studio & Arts Centre in a villa immersed in the greenery of Piantanicco, a small town in north-eastern Italy.

The vision behind the facility is to try to put “soul” back into music production, combining professionalism, passion and almost twenty years’ experience in the music field with in-depth administration, management and commercial knowledge and solid financial foundations. As well as being a sound engineer, Odorico is also an accomplished musician, singer and composer.

The studios’ acoustic design by Jakarta-based Texan designer John H. Brandt follows “non-environment room” principles (room treatment removes any influence that acoustics could have on monitored sound). The walls are soundproofed by the application of 1,600sqm of layered 18mm plasterboard panels, enclosing a layer of Green Glue damping compound, making the walls more elastic to dissipate vibrations, and approximately 1,800sqm of fibreglass to obtain maximum sound insulation.

A fibreglass and mineral wool-filled wooden acoustic control structure is applied over this. The ceiling is mounted using Sylomer for vibration damping and a “cloud” flown over the mixer creates a reflection-free zone.

Studio A features a floating oak floor, wall fabrics chosen for their high acoustic transparency and sand-filled wooden acoustic doors ensuring total sound insulation (each weighing 170kg).

Studio A hosts what Odorico calls “The King”: a Solid State Logic 4064 E/G console refurbished by Pete Higgs, used in Gary Barlow’s studio and, according to their research, previously owned by producer Jimmy Iovine.

The monitor set-up consists of a Genelec 1033 3-Way Main System, Adam S3X-H, a Genelec 1092A subwoofer and a JVC UX-T550 micro system.

For recording there is a Pro Tools HDX with HD 10 software, PT HD I/O, Digidesign 192 I/O, Digidesign 96 I/O (two units) and a Cranesong HEDD 192 converter.

Studio A is connected with the facility’s 70sqm “Big Live Room”, designed to accommodate and enable the recording of a live bands in one go.

Odorico explains in a few words how Pro Tools is integrated into his workflow: “We use Pro Tools as a hard-disk recording system and editing workstation whereas, for the actual mixing work, the channels are fed individually directly to the console.”

Studio B features a 40-channel SSL Aysis Air console with DK-Audio MSD200 Mastering Meters. Monitors are Genelec 1032A with a 1094A subwoofer, ADAM S3A, Alesis Monitor One and B&W DM600 S3; again, working with another Pro Tools system (but HD11 this time).

Odorico continues, “I took the technical decisions and selected equipment personally, according to my ideal modus operandi, which integrates a modern digital work set-up using HD recording with the warmth and colour of the analogue sound of top-grade equipment from the ‘80s to the 21st century, put at the heart of the production chain.”

There’s too much rare and unusual outboard at Angels Wings to highlight any one piece collected over 15 years. Instead, the engineer proudly points out two 1971 Klein & Hummel UE1000 mastering equalisers, a Maselec MLA-4 multiband mastering compressor, a pair of Telefunken V78 valve microphone preamplifiers, an Altec 436C valve compressor (frequently used by the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios), three very rare 1970 Neumann PEV equaliser modules, four vintage Neve 1073 mic pramp/equalisers, four Filtek MK4 broadcast equalisers, four Neumann U 491A equalisers and four U 473A compressors (the last few items all from the 1970s).

The facility also includes a comfortable relax/lounge area with library and kitchen and, during the summer, the spacious garden has benches, table, loungers and a barbecue.

Monica Zinutti concludes: “We firmly believe that a top grade, technically prepared facility must be able to handle any type of recording work, no matter what genre is involved, and ensure artists a comfortable working environment.

“We’ve recorded everything from singer/songwriters, to jazz, new age, metal and gospel choirs and are currently finishing mixing work on a live recording of the 500-strong Italian Gospel Choir concert in front of Milan Cathedral.”