Introduction and History
Originally commissioned by Steve Lillywhite in 1985 and built to his specification, the studio has been home to countless hits in his hands. The studio also played home to his then wife Kirsty MacColl who recorded/mixed whole albums here. After a period of little use it was brought back to life by Kirsty and her partner James Knight adding new equipment and re-commissioning the old. James has continued to run the studio but only for his own projects/productions and to hire it out to friends. Now it's time to share the love of a wonderful environment that can offer something unique at any price. Soul. History. Sound.
The studio is situated in leafy Ealing Town and run by producer/engineer/musician James Knight. Because the entire studio is purpose built from the ground up all of the usual room issues (standing waves, bass issues etc) are eliminated both in the live room and the control room. Anyone can buy the best microphones and the best mixing desk but without a purpose built, acoustically treated space to put them, they're just not able to do the job they were designed to do.
The Control Room
Acoustically designed from the start, the control room is perfect to hear everything you're recording/mixing in absolute clarity. Really the only thing you need from a control room! Big enough for a large sofa to relax on when listening back on the glorious ATC SCM50 main monitors and large enough to house the vintage Amek Angela 28 channel analogue mixing desk with ease, it really is a great place to be. A huge bay window lets in natural light all day so the infamous "studio tan" isn't an issue! A collection of vintage outboard housed in custom racks behind the desk are available as well as a massive instrument/equipment collection (see spec sheet), from guitars to synths, drum kits to vintage valve amps. We run a MacPro/Logic front end utilising the Amek desks mic pre's so that the signal path is analogue up to the Lynx Aurora 16. Any editing takes place in Logic and we have the full Waves Mercury package at our disposal. Mixing can be done "in the box" or, as we have 16 outputs, on the desk itself using the legendary Amek EQ. We also have an MCI 2" tape machine if a truly analogue recording experience is requested. Please get in touch for details....
The Live Room
The live room has a wooden floor with integral carpeted area and has a fantastic neutral acoustic. A great drum sound is easily achievable and plenty of drummers and producers come back time and time again to get that "expensive" drum sound on a budget. Because the room is not as "dead" as many budget studios it lends itself to all manor of acoustic instruments, allowing them space to breathe properly. This is especially apparent with strings and many string sessions have taken place over the years. The live room will comfortably hold a string quartet and is large enough to get a beautiful rich sound that's often lacking from budget recordings.
As James is a musician himself, and more specifically a saxophone player, horn sections have featured heavily over the years in the live room. From big budget TV shows like the X Factor, to film scores to adverts and everything in-between.
Because we're able to mic things up properly we still use guitar amps and are able to use an "amp cupboard" if a whole band is tracking. Plug-ins are great but there really is no substitute for a valve amp pushing sound into a microphone...
Finally onto vocals. Some of the most overlooked factors in budget studios, we believe, are decent headphones and a decent headphone mix. Classic DT100s are still our headphone of choice with a high end Rane headphone amp. The availability of reverb in the headphones is vital as any vocalist who has done a session without will attest! Excellent sight lines into the control room for proper communication between producer/vocalist seems obvious but can really make a session more relaxed and therefore more productive.
In summary a great sounding space needs only the music to bring it alive and with no acoustic issues we never have to battle the room, it's very much on our side.