French DJ, AXEL, recently created his dream studio. It features a Funktion-One sound system, as well as video and lighting capabilities for designing the complete show. AXEL holds residencies in China and regularly performs around the world, particularly in Macau, Manila and Abu Dhabi, where he combines electro, trap and hip hop breaks with spectacular lighting and video spectacles. Here, he reveals the thinking behind his new studio space.
What is the inspiration behind your new studio?
My decision to create this studio comes from two different places. Firstly – and this isn’t new – but to be distinguished in a competitive DJ market, you need to bring in your brand new tracks, latest edits, best remixes and so on. But how can you produce a master of a track on an 8-inch studio monitor when it will be played on a massive club sound system? The only solution we found is to have an equivalent sound pressure with a complete sound system.
The second thing is that I’ve been playing in different nightclubs around the world for years now, and I’ve noticed a real technical evolution and improvement in nightclubs – including massive sound systems, giant LED screens, special fx and lighting in bigger and bigger places. Nowadays, to be able to perform in these ‘super’ clubs, of course you need to play music, but you also need to produce a real show with a massive track list, timecoded lighting and powerful visuals. For that, you need a place where you can work with your lighting designer and VJ to prepare your show with the same sound and feeling as the crowd in front of the stage.
Why did you decide to install a Funktion-One playback system?
My story with Funktion-One starts in 2007 in BBox Club (Clermont-Ferrand, France). That was the biggest single room nightclub in Europe, with more than 4,000 capacity. The club was one of the first places equipped with a custom Funktion-One Dance Stack. I was resident DJ there, and I hadn’t heard a sound like that before in my career. It was a blast – incredibly deep and precise. I remember people driving hours to listen the best nightclub sound system in France. A few years later, when I’m playing across Europe or Asia, it’s always the same process – with a Funktion-One system, we never need sound checking with our team before the show.
I remember the biggest DJs, touring the best clubs and festival in the world, like R3hab, saying: “Wow, what are those DJ monitors? This is absolutely incredible,” talking about the PSM318s. So, when I started my new studio project, I immediately thought about a Funktion-One sound system. But first, in the name of impartiality, I decided to listen to all the major sound system brands in France – visiting the distributor’s headquarters with my four sound system consultants. All the listening sessions finished in the same way – after making 100 changes to the factory settings and adding EQ, the system would sound okay, but nothing emotional.
The last listening was with the Funktion-One Resolution 2 and BR218 (at Solution One). In the first moment of listening, the sound was impressive without any distortion, a precise bass kick and clear high and mid on all kinds of music – from electronic to rock or pop. What a surprise when me and my consultants discovered that the settings were only the factory set up – no added EQ.
The second important thing with Funktion-One is that you have exactly the same sound colour at low level and high level. This is absolutely essential when you work in a small space with this power. I can work for hours and hours with high level pressure without feeling any hearing pain or tinnitus. The sound is ‘velvet’ – absolutely not aggressive with deep and high impact bass kick.
What does Funktion-One sound bring to your production process?
The Funktion-One sound system is, first of all, my best companion for mastering. After initial levelling with my Yamaha studio monitors, I switch to the Funktion-One to check my different levels at high level pressure – especially my kicks levels. That is, for me, the most complicated adjustment in electronic music when you work on low pressure levels but your music is supposed to be played at high level. With this set up, I can perfectly feel my audience’s perception and adjust everything before the show.
Who would you like to give shout outs to?
I would like to give shout outs first to Corentin Pinet from Terre de Son (Clermont-Ferrand – France) who worked with me for the global design, acoustic studies (with Artnovion products) and lighting. The second important part in this project is Sébastien Bruneau from Alive (Bordeaux – France) who introduced me to the Res 2 / BR218 sound system and also made the full installation/audio calibration inside the room. He’s passionate about the brand and knows everything about it – facilitating the whole process from the demo to precision settings inside the room.