Service with passion = results that match our promises
“Highest quality studio work for a fair price is our goal. We respond to each individual request of our customers and offer the most efficient options for every production. We accompany our customers right from the planning stage to completion of the project and give every detail along the way the needed attention.” -Philipp Erdin
Sonar Sound Studio offers you: Modern digital technology combined with analog equipment, acoustically friendly recording space in an inspiring environment, and quality musical instruments ready to paint your next musical picture.
We offer you not only a well-rounded studio space, but other audio production services as well, which are described in full on our website. We work efficiently and meticulously for you thanks to our many years of experience in audio recording.
The Sonar Sound Studios
The location could not be more favorable. The Sonar Sound Studios are located at the edge of the city of Zurich, a stone’s throw away from the tram stop “Farbhof”. In front of the building with its number 808, the bus stop “Micafil” is located. Four affordable restaurants and a gas station with its shop are situated right around the studio. Urban, if not hip, affordable and yet not off the beaten track – that’s Zurich West.
The whole width of the recording room consists of a window front. Without an exhilarating view, but with uniform daylight, the rooms create a stimulating, concentrated atmosphere in which you can work at length and focused.
Wonderful also is the load-in! The heaviest instruments can be easily rolled from the loading dock into the studio at ground level without taking a single step. This protects your back and saves time. Here’s a supple start our studio sessions.
We value a stress-free atmosphere, start the day with a good coffee or tea, discuss the goals in peace, plan breaks and mealtimes. Experience shows that the daily goals can be achieved not only more pleasantly, but also more effective.
Acoustics are always a science, a matter of luck, or a combination of both. We were lucky; very lucky! The rooms sounded great to start with, without us having invested huge amounts of cash. Of course, we helped our luck a bit with our experience and of course prevented the bad rookie mistakes;
the ceilings do not hang too low, the walls are rarely parallel. The window front works like a bass absorber. The deep centers are even and “tidy”. In the high mids, the room is refreshingly lively, and if you want to dampen it a bit, you simply set up some of the existing baffles.
The Grand Piano
The C1 Yamaha Grand Piano convinces with its direct sound. Balanced and even, it can be played with precision and thanks to the slender basses, it embeds itself well into the band sound.
Thanks to the built-in Dampp Chaser (humidifier) it is quite stable in tuning. Nevertheless, we recommend – depending on the requirements – to have the instrument tuned right before recording anyway.
The Hammond Organ
The A-100 Hammond is identical to the famous B-3, except that it has built-in speakers. It is, so to speak, the “big” B-3. Combined with our Leslie Cabinet L-122 it sounds voluminous and diverse – just wonderful! She is like the grandmother of the studio, built in 1964, but we take care of her lovingly, and she does us loyal service and almost never licks around.
Rhodes 73 MK1
Another museum piece, which is too good for us to be retired: the Fender Rhodes! I found it many years ago in an attic in Bischofzell at a pastor’s house. “He does not need this heavy box anymore”, he meant at the time. What a find! Anyone who has played it knows immediately that it will always be a difference, whether you play a virtual or the real instrument. An experience!
If he could, he would buy it back, former owner Roller Frei once said. “If I do not have to, I’ll never give it back,” I replied. The Wurlitzer, best known by the legendary band “Supertramp”, unfolds its sonic potential like the Rhodes most beautifully when combined with the original Fender Twin Reverb. You have to try it to feel that playing the MIDI keyboard will always be something different from the real instrument.
Drums and Percussion
Giannini stands for handmade Swiss made products of the highest class. We have two different drum sets that can be combined as needed. Next is a variety of percussion instruments to choose from, listing them all would go beyond the scope.
Guitars, Basses, Amps, Synthesizers
At some point, we had to make a fundamental decision: Space versus instrument selection. So we decided with a heavy heart to keep only the bare essentials to have room to work. It’s a recording studio, not a museum, and certainly not an instrument trade. We parted with a lot and kept the essentials. It has some nice electric guitars, some acoustic stringed instruments like the mandolin, the western guitar, the classical guitar, a few synthesizers and other instruments that are at your own disposal. On request, we organize everything, of course, from a Theremin to a Kesselpauke.
At the heart of our control room stands the 32 channel CADAC J-Type mixing console. A fantastic desk from England, which leaves little to be desired. The console sound is absolutely equal to the more well-known brands like Neve and SSL, but less colored. Thanks to the 12 Aux busses, a whole session can fully be run analogue including band monitoring. The EQs sound very musical, and can be activated as a whole unit or individually. Four fully parametric bands and one tunable high pass are available per channel. The preamps work extremely low-noise and clean. But if you start pushing them to the limit, things are becoming to be real fun. The audio summing is so neutral from the insert-returns without EQs that a difference to Pro Tools Summing is hard to make out. The magic starts when the analog summing goes through the preamps and you work with the desk EQs and the wonderful outboard. The guitars become vivid, the voices start to live, the drums sound more open, with a dry low end. Yes, we admit it, we are a little bit in love with our CADAC.
The Recording System
We use a Mac with Thunderbolt extension and two Avid Pro Tools HDX cards. Attached to it are four audio interfaces from Avid, 2 new HDX and two older 192. Overall, we have 48 analog and 16 digital inputs, which are all on the patchbay or connected directly to the periphery. 24 analogue outputs are routed back to the mixer, 16 are used for monitoring. About 300 plugins from all well-known manufacturers are used in everyday studio life, be it from the denoising on classic EQs and Dynamics to dedicated mastering tools.
Living legends like 1176 and 1178 share the place in our racks with sounding names like Neve and Tube-Tec. We are particularly proud of our two veterans, the original Roland Space Echoes RE-101 and RE-201. They have recently undergone a total overhaul, which in our case means that all Caps and Pots have been replaced. Of course, we also changed the tape and cleaned the heads. It is the sum of all the parts that make this studio an unforgettable experience at the end. A lot of equipment has been tested, bought and sold again in the last 20 years. What’s left is a “best-of” – the things one would take to the famous desert island.
Like the Bricasti M7, simply the most natural digital reverb we know. Or the Focusrite 7, a class-leading channel strip – if only it would look as good as it sounds…
A basic requirement for good recordings is the headphone signal for the musicians and performers. Since we also often make speech recordings, we have decided to offer different systems for each task.
If not necessary, we prefer to work without headphones, but in many applications there is no other choice. For speech or vocal recordings, we use an AES output from the Avid interfaces and then convert this to the Universal Audio 2192. The stereo signal feeds a high-end headphone amplifier from “Lake People”, a Konstanz-based audio manufacturer.
A large selection of professional studio headphones offers the right model for every taste, ensuring perfect monitoring for this purpose. For band recordings we use the fastest known system, the Promix16. The latency is under 1ms! For a session at 96kHz, the latency of the entire system is less than 2ms. This leads to noticeably better control while playing. Eight control units are available on which each individual musician can put together his desired mix by 16 channels.
The Control Room Monitoring
Klein & Hummel was a renowned German company, which was bought a few years ago by Neumann / Sennheiser. The Neumann KH 310 A (yes, these are the initials of the aforementioned company) are a active three-way monitor system whose sound we even prefer over their predecessors’. The system is supplemented with an actively separated subwoofer, which has been adapted to the room via a Klein & Hummel controller. As an alternative, our Veteran Auratones are standing beneath on the acoustically optimized speaker stands. The speakers are controlled via a Cranesong Avocet, to which the CADAC output and the digital Pro Tools output is applied. This makes it possible to hear the signals front and rear bands – fully analog or via the Pro Tools system.
Philipp Erdin has been working as sound engineer on stage for over 20 years, behind the mixer and in the studio. High profiled artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Eminem or Justin Timberlake have been working in his studio, and he has already provided services to countless other artists at their live performances.
Hannes Bachofner is studying Tonmeister at the ZhdK and has been working with us since 2015. He plays the drums himself and takes over recording and editing work in the studio.
Matthias Krähenbühl has completed his degree as a sound engineer at SAE Zurich and has been a member of our team since 2017. In addition to his assistant, Matthias works as a DJ and producer.