Formerly the Expo 2020 site in Dubai, Firdaus Studio is now a sustainable mixed-use community known as District 2020. Its vision is to become a leading musical hub by servicing established musicians from around the world while taking an active role in nurturing the next generation of talent within the region.
Designed by the team at Modi Digital, the original idea for the recording studio was thought up by Her Excellency, Reem Al-Hashimy, the minister of state for international cooperation, United Arab Emirates and director general) as well as A.R Rahman, the composer, artist and musician. The multi-use Live Room was designed to function in cinema mode, performance mode and recording/scoring mode with the ability to accommodate up to 80 musicians. The control room features an analogue-digital hybrid workflow setup consisting of 40-input Rupert Neve Designs 5088 and Avid S6 digital control surface, and is certified for Dolby Atmos Music / HE 7.1.4 mixing. In addition, there are four iso booths equipped with screens and 4K cameras, as well as an Auxiliary Control Room for programming, writing or small recording sessions.
“‘Firdaus’ translates to ‘Paradise’ in Arabic, so it was important that all aspects of the studio reflect this ideal,” said Adita Modi, design custodian at Modi Digital, “and we believe a sonic paradise is best achieved with high-end analogue sound quality. We have spared no effort in ensuring the performance captured is of the highest quality.”
As a digital workflow was non-negotiable for a future-forward studio with Dolby Atmos capability, the studio’s desk – custom-built by Sounds Fishy – divides the 5088 into two sections with the S6 in the centre for digital mixing capabilities.
“Our 40-channel 5088, fully loaded with Shelford 5052 Mic Preamp & Inductor EQ and 5051 Inductor EQ & Compressor modules, is extremely special sounding,” said Navneeth Balachanderan, sound engineer and AV tech at Firdaus. “The detail and the warmth of the preamps are simply unmatched by any other pre we’ve heard, the desk has infinite headroom, and the saturation you get when you hit the desk hard sounds really musical. It just sounds right on any possible source you can think of.”