Palma Music Studios - an SSL Duality’s journey to Mallorca

Palma Music Studios, Mallorca, was opened at the end of 2017 but the idea of opening a studio came about only a year earlier when Johan Lundgren and Fredrik Thomander were introduced to each other by a mutual friend. Fredrik already had many years of writing and recording success in LA and Stockholm, and Johan had a 24 channel SSL Duality production studio in the UK. They both felt they could create something unique and world-class in the Balearic Islands capital Palma. Their first plan of action was to find a location...
KMR : When you first sat down together, what did you both have in mind? Fredrik : We had some drawings, but the first thing we did was look for houses because it seemed the logical thing to do, but we just didn’t find anything that was suitable. We did see a villa in the city, but it wouldn’t have been at all what we had today. Then I just drove past and saw this space for sale, and Palma Tennis club had just opened nearby and I thought this will be an area to be in. So we bought this plot of land, and this was what we had to work with. I had the measurements of a 17metre x 8metre plot, so with those limitations, we started designing. KMR : You now have a self-contained studio in the basement essentially, as you went down 5 metres and have two floors above and a roof terrace! Fredrik : Yes, my gut feeling was that we needed a place where writing camps could come to, and we knew we could dig down, so we put the emphasis on several smaller rooms rather than just one or two large spaces. Now we have the basement where we have four studios - one large and 3 smaller with a vocal booth - and a corridor in the middle - basically 4 project rooms and one big mothership! We had to work around having the stairwell and decided to make it into a common hangout area. The challenge was to fit all that, while still making it accessible but also private. So the solution was what we have today.
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A large ceiling height Live Room and a great sounding Control Room for the Solid-State-Logic Duality was something that both Johan and Fredrik wanted, so we introduced them to Nick Whitaker and Oxford Cable Systems' Paul Ward, to help achieve the best possible acoustic design which was put into place alongside their Spanish architect.
Palma Live Room KMR
KMR : I remember seeing some earlier plans that looked a much different layout? Fredrik : Oh yeah, we even had plans where the control room was up on the 2nd floor going up by stairs - and some designs with a spiral staircase which wouldn’t have been very smart…you were also very instrumental in suggesting what we shouldn’t do as well! KMR : I think after a session in Abbey Road with Johan we all discussed the idea of having a balcony idea in the live room? Fredrik : Yes exactly that was an inspiration. We also learnt a lot from chatting to people about the privacy idea, and how you need to have a corridor into the studios. Of course, Nick Whittaker came up with the genius idea of making the corridor into part of the acoustic build outside the main SSL room, and we knew we needed a good ceiling height - so the balcony allowed us to do the double height in the live room, which we were delighted with. The biggest challenge was the air supply, and airflow and air conditioning, as well as spacing. Where I’m sitting now, the Quincy room (SSL Room) from the start was actually two studios, and I remember you suggesting that we’d never sit in those small rooms, and to make it into one big room. KMR : I personally think your live room is a significant success. That’s the calling card for your studio with this amazing height and the Duality console next door. Fredrik : Exactly, it’s a wonderful thing, as was keeping Johan's SSL 24 channel Duality desk and then expanding it to 48 channels. There are very few details I would do differently - if any!
The 24 Channel Duality Delta was transported from the UK but not without a few logistical issues... Firstly, the Duality started its journey on the 3rd floor of a building with no lift, so required expertise navigating a tight stairwell down to the ground floor.. The new 24 channel expansion was then packed alongside the SSL Main Unit, with all the guitar amps and outboard, and then driven, via ferry from Barcelona, to arrive 24 hours later in Palma. The console was then reconfigured and tested onsite where a custom SSL designed armrest was fitted. This features a curved section in the centre to provide extra space for a keyboard and mouse when editing, or mixing, in the centre position of the desk.
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New outboard equipment was supplied alongside some more unusual pieces from Johan's UK studio such as an ADR Compex F760-X, Lisson Grove AR-1, a pair of Dave Hill Designs Europa1's and a Lavry Gold AD122-96 MX converter. A custom POLAR 160 compressor, named after the famous Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson owned 'ABBA' POLAR studios in Sweden, featuring VCA's from their Harrison Console, was also supplied, providing a unique connection to both owners' Swedish heritage. Studio equipment was supplemented by monitors from ATC and Augspurger, Fredrik's grand piano from Stockholm and a variety of microphones, such as the Telefunken 251, Sony C800G, Josephson C700 with the most unique being the custom hand made Didrik De Geer #35 valve mic.
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KMR : What do you feel has surprised you the most about the studio? Fredrik : I think what’s mind-blowing for me is how good it feels in this space. It’s special, and it’s got a vibe, it’s got something in the walls that make people want to create. KMR : For me the kitchen space, I know not related to the music gear, is a great place to hang out and relax, with the exquisite natural material from Mallorca all around the studio creating such a relaxing space. Fredrik : Of course the rooms sound great, the equipment is excellent, but it’s a little world. The whole place feels good with the high ceilings and spacious feel which is so important and an ambience thing. We've had over 20 people in here without them treading on each other at all. The whole look of the place was our wish, we wanted to have a natural stone floor and colours, so we worked with two designers who made this happen. They originally wanted to build a space ship because they were tired of using natural stone and material! But they came up with some great ideas. Johan and I spoke every day, every little piece of this studio was a decision, and a discussion, even from finding a picture on Pinterest with a sofa and a studio with a balcony and we kept that as an idea!
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Below is a unique 3D Dollhouse and interactive Floorpan of the Studio

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Dollhouse Image Palma Music Studio KMR