Design

The Northward Systems professional studio furniture line is the result of 6 years of intensive R&D, prototyping and field testing. It builds on years of experience designing high-end facilities worldwide, discussing workflow with industry leading mixing and mastering engineers and, above all, on a deep understanding of how professionally designed control rooms or mastering suites behave acoustically.

Each desk and racking unit is the result of a no-compromise design approach, aimed at fulfilling specific needs from In-The-Box and Hybrid setups to studios equipped with Large Frame Analog/Digital Consoles and dedicated mastering suites.

We engineered a scalable core module with optimized acoustic and structural properties, called the Acoustically Transparent Structural module (ATS module®) which has several key advantages:

  • exceptional acoustic transparency over the typical 20Hz–20kHz bandwidth
  • exceptionally strong, lightweight and fully non-resonant structure
  • no sensitive fabric-covered surfaces or weak assemblies

From this core design we developed various desks, consoles and rack housing units following strict ergonomic criteria. We built and tested multiple prototypes, looked at various manufacturing processes, made countless adjustments, built new prototypes and then tested again. The results are technically unrivaled and aesthetically unique designs which are in line with modern studio design principles and audio processing technologies.

Two specific tools were used to achieve the maximum acoustic transparency for each module: wave diffraction and geometric redirection of reflections.
Diffraction is when a sound wraps around an obstacle or passes through an opening. For a sound wave to wrap around an obstacle, the wavelength (“λ”) must be larger than the size of the obstacle (“d”).

Diffraction becomes increasingly pronounced as the size of the wavelength gets larger relative to the width of the obstacle (mathematically, as the ratio λ/d gets larger). For wavelengths much larger than the obstacle, the wave wraps around the obstacle and the wave’s frequency and phase are unchanged. This phenomenon is why you can hear sound emitted from the other side of a barrier even though you cannot see through it.
Similarly, when a wave passes through a slot opening of dimension “d”, if the wavelength is larger than the slot opening (if λ>d ) then it passes through the slot and continues forward in the form of a hemispherical wave emanating from the slot. On the other hand, if the wavelength is smaller than the slot opening then the portion of the wave that encounters the slot opening passes straight through it without being disturbed, while the portion that encounters the hard surface surrounding the slot is reflected. In both cases, the frequency and phase of the wave are unaffected. (At frequencies with a wavelength of similar size to the slot openings, there is some constructive and destructive interference which we can safely ignore as it’s limited in both bandwidth and amplitude.)

Utilizing this principle, low frequencies diffract around the outside of the desk and go through the slots a bit like water flows through a mesh strainer. The desk is transparent at these frequencies.

As we gradually shift to mid frequencies, a similar but scaled phenomenon occurs, with the sound waves diffracting around the furniture’s smaller structural edges and passing through the slots, making the desk transparent at these frequencies as well.

At high frequencies, from approximately 8kHz for the wider furniture’s structural edges and 12kHz for the slotted areas, the design transitions to a purely geometrical method of eliminating undesirable reflections.

One portion of the high frequencies goes straight through the slots, while the rest of the high frequencies that reflect off the hard surfaces between the slots are reflected away from the listening position due to the specific geometry of each unit.

This geometry has been further optimized by taking into account typical speaker directivity at high frequencies.

Working in collaboration with established music industry professionals and artists, a great deal of attention has been given to make sure our desks allow the engineer to sit properly and reach the equipment without creating needless strain on the body or requiring movement out of the sweet spot.

Specific shapes, curvatures and location of rack bays help create a comfortable working environment, allowing easy access to knobs and faders from the sweet spot, while keeping graduations, VU and peak meters easily readable.

All this while keeping your gear properly ventilated.

All our standard and custom designs are fully registered at the EUIPO, protecting both our investment in R&D and our customers from unauthorized copies.