Post-production studio, Studio Brain, has taken a sustainable approach to upgrading its facilities. Based in the Kagurazaka district of Tokyo, the full-service production house is built around two fully equipped creative studios and three editing suites.
The 66 m² MA1 control room has featured two flush mounted Genelec 1035 main monitors since 1991. These were in need of 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 there were parts that needed maintenance", explains Toshiyuki Ootaki from Brain's studio department. "Talks about renewing the whole system in the first MA (multi audio) room were brought up, and 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 someone who is really cost-conscious, so a part of me thought that maybe we should take this opportunity to downsize. 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 that installing the monitors in the walls of the room would be a financial burden, but when 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, recalls Mitsuhide Takamura, who serves on the board of Studio Brain and is also involved in production.
When they were launched in 1989, Genelec's 1035 monitors quickly became a go-to for top studios around the world 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 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.
In well-established, theatre-tiered listening rooms like Brain's MA1, this is a real benefit for two reasons. Firstly, the 1235s can be calibrated via GLM to allow even greater flexibility in tailoring them to the acoustics of the room, and additionally, they can be optimised for a variety of listening positions.
When we got the monitors installed we tried listening to the uncalibrated sound without using GLM. The sound was – unsurprisingly – very close to the 1035s. To us, it would be a big problem if our reference sound changed significantly. Calibration with GLM improves the sound, but also allows you to fine-tune the characteristics – so I was able to create a balance between the outstanding sound characteristics of the 1235s, and the sound that I'm used to with our original 1035s, says Takamura.
The Retrofit Upgrade Kit saves Studio Brain money by consuming less power, supporting Genelec's longstanding commitment to sustainability. However, application is still key: "I've been mixing with Genelec's large monitors since I started in this business, and I think Genelec is really special", says Takamura. "The sound is ingrained in my body and I can easily imagine how things will sound on TV, for example. I think it's really fascinating that I can keep this feeling with the Retrofit Upgrade, yet still have monitors with the latest technology".
Brain has other studios with Genelec systems and they last a very long time. This is truly a connection of trust, and we will keep moving forward into the future while cherishing this sound. I feel that the Retrofit Upgrade was a really worthwhile thing to do, concludes Ootaki.