Studio-Q™ Development

With more and more recording happening in smaller studios, the need for a simple talk-back system has become evident.

Over the years, console manufacturers have chosen to remove the talkback system from their work-surfaces. Not because it is not needed... but due to their trying to be as competitive as possible with others. The premise for this train of thought is that most recording today is done in a single room studio and communication between the artist and the producer or engineer does not need to be done remotely. Although this is certainly true, major improvements in the quality of home recording equipment has elevated the prowess and production value to where today, much of the pre-production for major albums is done in the comfort of the home studio. With this has come an emerging awareness that isolating ‘studio noise’ from the control room is the next logical evolutionary step to producing even better recordings.

During a recent dealer visit with a studio specialist, the need was expressed that 'Radial should produce a solution'. We responded by asking 'Why?' From our perspective, there are already a number of solutions in the market. Does the world really need Radial to enter into the fray? Turns out... although there are others available, most either have too many features, too difficult to use, are too costly, or are too large. The Studio-Q™ presents a desktop solution that manages to do it all in a super-compact design.

Establishing the layout

The Studio-Q had to be small, yet be able to handle balanced signals. This meant using stacking stereo ¼" TRS connectors to interface the program output from the recording system to the headphone amplifier. XLRs, although preferable, require significantly more space. We then wanted an easy-access knob that would allow the engineer to quickly set the level for the phones. As the Studio-Q will be used in the heat of the moment, the top surface had to remain minimalistic for maximum efficiency.

Next, we researched finding the right talkback button. It had to feel right, and be the right size – not too big, not too small. Once depressed, we felt that it would be essential to have the Studio-Q automatically reduce the program level, to allow the engineer to talk over the music. We chose to recess this control so that it could be 'set & forgotten'. This way, as soon as the talkback button was activated, the mic would go on, the program level would be dimmed and the communication line would open up.

Managing the talkback mics

Next question had to do with the control room mics. Would one mic in the Studio-Q be enough? What about when a guest producer was in house, how would he communicate to the band? To address this situation, we added an XLR input for a dynamic microphone. No, it is not equipped with phantom power for a condenser as we felt this would be overkill. We then added a remote control input that would enable the producer to connect a Radial JR1M™ footswitch to activate the talkback. This can be any momentary or latching type, depending on the preference. Since the built-in mic and the remote mic will have different outputs, we made sure to have two 'set & forget' level controls – one for each mic – and then a master mic control that is readily available for quick overall adjustments.

Attracting attention

When some musicians get into the zone, getting them to stop playing and retake a track can be frustrating. For this, we added a remote output that can be used to illuminate a beacon. As we intend to produce such an item we decided to make this output wet (with power) or dry (simple contact closure) so that we could address any eventuality.