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Studio Brain, a post-production studio in the Kagurazaka district of Tokyo, has taken a sustainable approach to upgrading its facilities. The full-service production house is built around two fully equipped creative studios and three editing suites. The 66 m² MA1 control room featured two flush-mounted Genelec 1035 main monitors since 1991. These needed some attention, but rather than move to a different solution, Studio Brain decided to give them an entirely new lease of life through Genelec’s 1235 Retrofit Upgrade Kit – thereby creating a thoroughly modern Smart Active Monitoring system.
“The 1035s had been in use for decades, and parts needed maintenance,” explains Toshiyuki Ootaki from Brain’s studio department. “We talked about renewing the whole system in the first multi-audio room, but, thinking ahead, we decided to upgrade the monitors.”
At the start of the upgrade process, the studio looked at switching the 1035s out to nearfield monitors but instead settled on the Retrofit Upgrade Kit to transform the legacy 1035s to 1235 Smart Active Monitors. This upgrade retains the 1035 enclosures and updates them with the latest Class D amplifiers, DSP hardware and drivers.
“I’m really cost-conscious, so a part of me thought that maybe we should take this opportunity to downsize,” recalls Mitsuhide Takamura, who serves on the board of Studio Brain and is also involved in production. “But when we took the 1035s out from the wall, I noticed that the foundation was very solidly built and thought we should make good use of it. I thought installing the monitors in the room’s walls would be a financial burden, but compared to the cost of downsizing, there was no difference in price. The fact that we could upgrade the 1035s that we trust, but with the latest technology, is truly wonderful.”
When launched in 1989, Genelec’s 1035 monitors quickly became a go-to for top studios worldwide who demanded full-range monitors that combined high SPL with true reference quality. The replacement 1235 was launched in 2020, offering Genelec’s Smart Active Monitoring technology, with 96 kHz processing and tight integration with GLM calibration software. At the same time, the Retrofit Upgrade Kit allowed the installation of the new RAM-XL amplifier module, brand new drivers and a complete system calibration, with no structural changes and little downtime, enabling 1035 users to benefit from the improved performance and greater flexibility of the 1235 – thus providing many more years of reliable service from their monitors.
“When we installed the monitors, we tried listening to the uncalibrated sound without using GLM. The sound was unsurprisingly very close to the 1035s,” says Takamura. “To us, it would be a big problem if our reference sound changed significantly. Calibration with GLM improves the sound but also allows us to fine-tune the characteristics, so I could create a balance between the outstanding sound characteristics of the 1235s and the sound that I’m used to with our original 1035s.
“Also, customers are often concerned in spacious rooms like this that if they can listen comfortably in the mixer’s seat, the sound at the back won’t be as good,” he continues. “With GLM, we can measure and store the settings for the client’s position and the mixing position and quickly switch between the settings. This is vital in terms of sharing the same sound with the client, so this feature is definitely a must for us.”