Posted on November - December, 2023
Bringing an ethereal vision of sound to life

How Sound & Vision Studios Is Elevating Its Oeuvre Through Expansion

Nestled in the lap of nature in a quiet nook at the end of an arterial lane in Versova, Mumbai, Sound & Vision Studios stands as a creative haven for recording artistes, sound engineers, and sound directors. Occupying the first and the second floor of a residential building, an untrained eye would look at it as a challenging development for studio professionals to work in. But leave it to the studios’ ManagingDirector Mona Shetty, Technical Director Shantanu Hudlikar, and Acoustic Consultants Munro Acoustics, driven in this endeavour by Shetty’s husband Mohit, to design a seven-room studio in Versova, fitted with the latest equipment and modern technology. It sits well in a residential complex, catering to the needs of production houses, film studios, and streaming service platforms. Moreover, to reflect the team’s commitment to unceasing excellence, a two-room recording facility in Andheri East was transformed into a six-room mixing facility. An enormous undertaking such as this deserves a spotlight. PALM Magazine Team explores the design philosophy behindthe studios, the concept behind maintaining a seamless configuration across all rooms, the innovations employed during the acoustic design and treatment, and more.

The Beginning:

“This is where it all started. This is where the original studios were. It has always been only ADR and Dubbing (Localization),” remarks Shantanu Hudlikar, standing with us at the entrance of the Sound & Vision Studios’ original space on the second floor, as he is just about to guide us for a walkthrough. He further reveals that the studio’s main focus was, is, and might always be on voice recording.

Delving a little deeper into the history of Sound & Vision Studios, Hudlikar states that the facility at Versova has been subjected to quite a bit of transformation.

Originally, the Studios at Versova had four studios and one mixing room. The facility across the road from Versova studios consisted of two studios and one mixing room, which is now transformed into an administrative space.

Mona Shetty added to the conversation, weaving an attention-gripping narrative about the origins of the Sound & Vision Studios, while talking about her own journey from being a child voice actor to an entrepreneur passionate about voice recordings, “I have been a voice actor since I was child. I have performed voice acting for many areas - from advertising to radio to film to television. I used to help my mother with running the company when she started it in 1993. Because she was so good at her work, she kept getting more projects. What started as a creative endeavour turned into a business.”

She further comments, “My mother soon realized the need to have her own studio, and so, the recording studios in Andheri East and the studios across the road in Versova came into existence. I took over the studios after she passed away. I was pregnant at the time, and it was becoming very difficult to run things which were all over the place by commuting from Andheri West to Andheri East almost every day. So, just to make it more convenient for myself, we started building and expanding. Today, I have gone from being a voice actor, to a dubbing director, to an entrepreneur.”

Shetty elaborates on the idea behind expanding Sound & Vision Studios, “The idea was that now we need to expand, because we need more infrastructure for the kind of work we are getting, and also, our work is erratic. We wanted to have a better arrangement of resources, so that we can manage better and the run cost can be contained.”

Sound & Vision Studios already functioned with four studio rooms on the second floor. But, when the team sought expansion, they fortunately found just the space they desired for maximizing capacity on the first floor of the same building.

Shetty affirms, “This was ideal, because all the studios are just a floor apart. We just had to add on to the infrastructure as opposed to building a new facility altogether. This area is also very artist-friendly, parking-friendly, and it is accessible as well.”

Hudlikar stresses on the fact that in a rapidly changing recording landscape, a studio should avoid being too specialized in a particular area. “Our studios are designed in a way that they can take on any eventuality, except orchestra recordings. But here, we can do music, foley, sound design, and more.”

The studios’ expansion and transformation is more external and technical in nature, while the internal workflow of the studios, even when updated to cater to modern-day standards, remains the same. “We are doing no different. The work structure is exactly the same.” Hudlikar remarks, “The volume has increased. The technology is better. We are able to incorporate more microphones since the world of dubbing and ADR requires a different kind of workflow. So, the new studio rooms are built to adapt mainly towards that.”

As we step into the first studio, Hudlikar explains, “If you notice, I have taken the old-fashioned, traditional route, which I feel is absolutely necessary, because this leaves it flexible for everyone. There is a mixer and console, a patchbay, where you can interpatch all the equipment – external preamplifiers, external compressors, really high-quality A to D and D to A converters, and a very comfortable working environment, with ergonomically designed custom tables.”

Hudlikar comments, “These are not just bought off the market, I sat down with Kapil, and we designed these tables ourselves. Being an engineer myself, I know that sometimes, companies design tables and hand them over to the engineers to work. When the engineer starts working, problems begin to crop up. With these tables, everything is within an arm’s reach – the engineers don’t have to bend or move much. Everything is absolutely comfortable over here.”

As we move into the other rooms, we begin to notice room standardization. Hudlikar confirms, “All the rooms are built to a particular specification, and they are all absolutely consistent with each other, in terms of sound. Everything is exactly the same, everywhere, except two studios where there is an addition of external preamps, which we need to record music for songs, voice recording for songs – this is essential, especially when we have more than two artists or four artists or a chorus.”

Hudlikar adds, “We now have 11 studios, and on an average, we have around 20 projects going on at any time, in multiple languages. As a result, it can become a logistical nightmare trying to assign studios to engineers and directors. We decided to keep the configurations similar so that regardless of the size of the room, moving from one room to another would be seamless.”

The Acoustic Design:

Hudlikar shares the reason behind relying on professional acoustic design consultants to design an impeccable studio, and why Munro Acoustics was chosen to design the studios at Versova, “One place you can never compromise on is room design and acoustic treatment. Which is why we chose to go with Munro Acoustics. In the end, acoustics is a science.” He further expands on the need to rely on acoustic consultants to get the science behind the sound right, “In acoustics, for instance, you always have to follow the Rule of Thirds principle. In the middle of the room, you always get into room modes, which means early reflections from all sides, the centre of the room