CULVER CITY, CA—“The power of this system is how it remembers everything,” says Eric Boulanger, at the controls of the “RoboLathe” at his mastering studio, The Bakery. With the vinyl resurgence continuing unabated, Boulanger’s lathe has been busy, most recently cutting Green Day’s Revolution Radio, Tinariwen’s Elwan and both the score and soundtrack to Oscar-winning musical La La Land.
Boulanger—French for baker, hence the studio name—opened the facility on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, CA in mid-2015. The choice of location is not as unusual as it might seem.
Previously on staff since 2007 at the Mastering Lab in Ojai, CA, Boulanger found himself increasingly picking up clients in Los Angeles. He was already considering opening his own shop in L.A. when facility owner Doug Sax became sick and ultimately passed away.
“That was emotional, since I was so close to Doug. But I had the opportunity to tell him everything I had been keeping secret,” he says.
Boulanger was looking for a suitable location in the L.A. area when Sony Pictures staff recording engineer Adam Michalak, whom he knew through a mutual friend, gave him a tour of the lot and introduced him to Tom McCarthy Jr., EVP of Post Production Facilities at Sony Pictures Studios. McCarthy offered him a former executive screening room in the Irving Thalberg Building that was designed for TV movies shot on 35mm film and hadn’t been used for years.
In July 2015, Boulanger moved in, removed the seats and set up his ATC SCM150 monitors on borrowed speaker stands. “I brought in my laptop, measured everything and found the sweet spot.”
With that, a Sony team built a platform to level the raked floor. “This screw,” he says, pointing beneath his chair, “is the listening position. If I’m recalibrating things, I can set my rear speakers up with a measuring string. It’s basic, but boy, does it work.”