Music producer Rami Yacoub discusses perfect studio acoustics through breakthrough room correction software
Even after co-writing Britney Spears’ career-making “…Baby One More Time” and other chart-topping songs, renowned Swedish producer and songwriter Rami Yacoub has maintained a fervent hunger for finding the right sound. In that pursuit of perfection, Yacoub has turned to Swedish sound pioneer Dirac and its award-winning Dirac Live – a room correction system that minimizes a room’s impact on sound and ensures the best possible acoustics.
After a string of successful collaborations with multi-award-winning producer Max Martin and the legendary Stockholm-based Cheiron Studios, Yacoub ventured out on his own and founded Kinglet Studios, with operations in Stockholm and Los Angeles. However, when Yacoub was setting up the Stockholm studio—which he’d acquired from a previous owner—he found it incredibly difficult to correct the space’s obvious acoustical imperfections.
“We knew it wasn’t built perfectly. If you were sitting in the sweet spot, it sounded great, but if you moved your head back just a little, the bass was overwhelming,” Yacoub said. “You’d be sitting with your partner and wouldn’t hear what he was hearing.”
At first, he commissioned a series of custom bass traps, designed and built by a local sound engineer, but the solution was untenable. “After two months waiting for the traps, he calls and asks if we can come out and help him unload them,” Yacoub recalled. “I’m like, ‘Unload what?’”
Each of eight bass traps was the size of a refrigerator. They couldn’t all fit comfortably in the studio. Then Yacoub learned about Dirac Live, a cutting-edge room correction solution that minimizes a room’s impact on sound, bringing out the best of the sound system without requiring expensive treatments.
“When you run Dirac Live, it doesn’t really matter what studio you’re working in. The space’s design doesn’t matter; its construction doesn’t matter,” said Yacoub. “The software compensates for the nuances of each studio so that, as a producer, I hear that true, faithful sound I’m trying to achieve.”
Dirac Live improves studio acoustics and enhances sound accuracy through its patented impulse response correction technology, correcting for both the magnitude and phase of the entire sound system including the room itself, resulting in more transparent, balanced sound, tighter bass, improved staging, and enhanced clarity.
“Dirac Live eliminated the bass imperfections and inconsistencies without requiring us to sit on top of a ‘refrigerator’ as we produced,” he said. “With Dirac Live, regardless of how many of us were in the studio, and where we were each seated, we all heard the same thing – which is essential when producing an album.”
Today, as he travels among studios in Sweden and Los Angeles, collaborating with a wide variety of artists, Yacoub appreciates the benefits of Dirac Live. With laptop in tow, he typically uses a Universal Audio interface and 1176 compressor, with a vocal chain comprising a Chandler TG2 preamp and Shure SM7 microphone. But Dirac Live is the secret weapon.
“Every studio is different. And every environment you might work in is different,” Yacoub said. “With Dirac Live, we’re ensuring an acoustically perfect studio wherever we go, so you get a true, honest sound.”
Over the years, Yacoub has collaborated with acclaimed artists and groups such as Britney Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Nicki Minaj, Tiesto, AVICII, Madonna, Ed Sheeran, Weeknd, and many others. In 2020, his work with Lady Gaga on her new Chromatica album was recognised with two Grammy nominations.