Just a few blocks from the Los Angeles Zoo sits what used to be The Bridge Recording, a renowned Los Angeles Scoring Stage. When musician, music producer, and indie film producer Holden Woodward purchased the building back in 2019, he vowed to carry on the studio's legacy as a premier scoring facility. For starters, he would begin by fully re-capping and refurbishing the studio's legendary 96-channel Neve VSP console. In addition to hosting scoring sessions for some of today's biggest blockbusters, such as Avengers, The Waking Dead, Mad Men, and more, Holden has expanded the studio to host artists and record labels in a wide range of genres. To better serve LA's music community, Holden reached out to Vintage King to outfit the newly-named Silent Zoo Studios with an array of analog outboard equipment and a full complement of the latest plug-ins. We recently sat down with Holden to talk about the studio's grand re-opening. Continue reading to learn more about the studio's impressive mic collection, custom Neve console, and what's in store for the future. Tell us a little bit about Silent Zoo Studios. 

We are a state-of-the-art studio located in Glendale, CA. Our space can easily hold a 55+ piece ensemble with its 23 ft. high ceilings, a 1,800 sq. ft. live room, and two adjoining 225 sq. ft. isolation booths. The control room is an ample 875 sq. ft. and comfortably holds a large team for any project. Whether you're recording solo piano, an album, or scoring your next major motion picture, Silent Zoo Studios can accommodate you in absolute convenience and style.

What inspired you to upgrade your studio?

The goal of our studio is to blend the scoring world with the contemporary. We’ve added more flavors of preamps and outboard gear, hundreds of guitar pedals in custom racks, instruments, and more. The lighting across the entire studio is now fully capable of being any color. On top of that, we’ve upgraded the video streaming capabilities with 4k HDMI ports across the entire live room, isolation booths, and control room. With the additional investment of several 4k cameras and a wide array of lighting equipment, Silent Zoo is now capable of any type of video production. It’s a space that is designed and ready to welcome any and all types of creative endeavors.

How has Vintage King been a part of building out the studio?

Vintage King has been awesome, especially when it came to beefing up our mic locker. We added the majority of the Telefunken Diamond Series mic collection: ELA M 251, U47, Stereo C12s, ELA M 260 Tri-Mono Set, and Copperhead. We reach for these all the time. We also equipped our second recording rig with the Apogee Symphony. It has amazing-sounding converters and it’s great to have another option for our second recording rig. Definitely will be going through VK for more gear!

What drew you to the custom Neve VSP console you're using?

This 96-channel Neve VSP is a special one with a ton of history in it. It started its life at Paramount Stage M before coming over to The Bridge Recording, now Silent Zoo Studios. Thousands of projects have been recorded through it; Wall-E, Marvel’s The Avengers, Chris Cornell, The Simpsons, Star Trek: Discovery and Strange New Worlds, and so much more. After a nearly entire recap and refurbishment of the console back in 2020, so much life has been brought back into this board, and carrying on its legacy sounds even better.

What are some of your favorite features of the console?

Having 96 channels gives you a lot of real estate to lay out a session, whether the session has 60 inputs or 20. It’s just nice to be able to spread out the session (inputs/prelays/returns etc.) and create your own workflow on the board for both tracking and mixing. Personally I really dig the console's sound, routing capabilities, and signal processing. The GATE is very responsive and musical sounding, and the EQ is very flexible and solid. Another big pro of the console in my opinion is having Flying Faders Automation.

How about your monitor setup? 

We use ATC 300’s LCR in custom cabinets as our mains and PMC TwoTwo8s as our midfields. In addition, we also have Genelec 1032As, ADAM S3As, and classic NS10s. For our low end, we use two 12” subs. We're equipped with 7.1 surround sound and may be looking at expanding to ATMOS in the near future.

What are some of your favorite pieces of outboard gear? 

Universal Audio’s LA-2A is a classic that I find I’m constantly using on vocals, bass, and beyond. Apart from that, we use Millennia HV-3D 8s for a large majority of our scoring sessions. Our live room naturally sounds so great, so having their transparency is awesome, especially on orchestral instruments. Other house favorites are the UA610s (great DI), Reddi Tube DI for bass, CL-1B, Little Labs VOG, the SSL G-BUS on a pair of drum room mics, Neve 1073s, and the Shelford Channel.

How do you feel about plug-ins?

Plug-ins are rad - blend analog and digital together and make music with whatever tools you have. I use a ton of plug-ins when I'm mixing. Lately, we’ve been really enjoying the Valhalla Verb suite, especially the Vintage Verb. Softube’s Atlantis Chambers is another really cool reverb that we've recently been turned onto. We’re huge fans of the Fab Filter Series - one of the best in the game in my opinion. We use the Pro-Q3, Pro-C2, and Pro-L2 all the time. Soundtoys makes awesome plug-ins that I find myself using a lot to manipulate and create new sounds when mixing.

What microphones do you find yourself using most often?

For vocals, I’ve recently been using the ELAM 251 on female vocalists, KMS 105s for live recordings in the studio, and the AKG 414 XL II on male grunge/rock vocals. I'm a drummer so I find myself miking drums often. Some of my favorites are 414 ULS on toms, Soundelux U99s on overheads, a Royer R-122 as a mono room, and MKH800s as stereo rooms. For guitar cabs, I often use Fathead IIs, 414 EBs, and the SE Voodoo VR2. For a string quartet, I’ve been using Schoeps MK4s above the two violins and viola, a ribbon mic like an R-122 or AEA N8 Nuvo out more in front of the two violins, a U99 or ELA M 251 placed out in front of the viola, a TFUNK U47 near the bass side of the cello, and a Sennheiser MKH40 pointed towards the middle of the neck.

Do you have a go-to signal chain for recording, or do you use something different every time?

Neve 1073 into LA-2A is a go-to signal chain I use for a lot of vocal recordings. It really depends from session to session, however. I’d say besides a few other go-to combinations of signal processing, it varies all the time.

What's a typical day in the studio like for you?

Studio life is crazy! It’s different every day - some days we are setting up for a 40-piece session, other days our techs are in maintaining our console/gear. On a non-session work day, we will be doing anything from editing videos, shooting more content, training the staff, keeping the studio organized, and having a good time. We’re always working on original content and brainstorming new ideas.

Are you working on any exciting projects right now that you're able to talk about?

We just recently started doing an in-house production we call Silent Zoo Sessions. We invite local artists in and set up a “live in studio” type set for them to perform a few songs. For every artist, we uniquely deck out the live room, light it up with colored effect lighting, and film the live set. All of the editing is done in-house and we release the session on our socials as promo for both us and the artist. Other projects we have been working on recently include a Netflix wildlife documentary, a couple feature films, and some upcoming TV shows.

Don Spatch If you have any questions about any of the gear mentioned in this blog, please reach out to us! Contact a Vintage King Audio Consultant via email or by phone at 818.237.9181.