Pt 11 – September 1st

My original update was the usual, repetitious two pages of the same kind of blah as my last three entries, pointing out how the infrastructure is grinding on, how we’re almost ready to start the acoustic treatment, how my reclaimed floor has been delivered to Tom at Floorsmiths for preparation prior to laying next week, how the electrics are almost completed, how…

Another bunch of blather about a building site.

And then…

I’ve always vacillated about certain aspects of the gear we’ll install. Sure, I’m settled on my vintage Tannoy Lockwood monitors with JBL subbase and Tannoy supertweeters. I’m still searching for the ideal amps (convection cooled so they can live in the control room with minimal speaker cables for optimum sonic reproduction; at present, a pair of massive EAR tube monoblocks are favourite for the Tannoy Reds with a huge Yamaha PC5002 driving the bottom end). And I’m settled on recording media – Prism converters driving the obligatory HD3 rig coupled to analogue 16 and 24 track tape with my Ampex half inch ATR for mastering. But the desk…

I’ve always struggled on the desk front.

I had a Neve VR earmarked for studio one, but remain unconvinced. I’m a Neve man through and through, but am a tad ambivalent about the VR. It’s not that it isn’t a great console…it is. But is it the right centrepiece for the very special blend of the best of modern and classic gear that defines my concept for Snap? And does London really need yet another flash mix room? After all, we already have Strongroom, Intimate, The Dairy, Livingston, Miloco, Pete Heller’s gaff, Battery, The Pierce Rooms and more – all good rooms.

And then, out of the blue, I stumbled across my dream desk.

I used to own a beautiful small Neve 53 series console, the main feature of my small studio in Wood Green. I loved that desk. It sounded better than any desk I’ve ever worked on, was easy to use, compact and bristling with character. Sadly, the dictates of an impoverished Funky Junk several years ago drove me to sell it to a customer who has since become a good friend. My loss was mitigated by the fact that it couldn’t have gone to a better or more loving home. But then, last week, a photograph arrived on my computer of a console for sale. Not just any console, I should say, but rather my dream console – an ultra rare recording version of the same desk.

With sixteen groups, sixteen monitors, eight auxiliaries and thirty-two inputs, it screamed at me to gobble it up and restore as the perfect centrepiece for Snap.

So I have.

The desk is short loaded, so the hunt for modules has begun. I’ve also put out feelers for a suitable moving fader system. And in that I already own a twelve channel 53 series sidecar, I now have my ultimate tracking and mixing console – classic (1972) discrete electronics, the best mic amps ever made (class A/B, the same as are in the legendary 1081 module), powerful three band eq and…and beautiful. Compact and cute, my new desk will sit perfectly in the control room, a friendly face rather than the overbearing presence threatened by a power hungry VR.

Driven by fate and luck, Snap is developing into my ideal studio. It will offer a unique blend of the best of yesteryear coupled to the current state of the art. To my mind, the Neve 53 is the best sounding console ever made. The Tannoy Lockwoods are classic monitors, responsible for monitoring the best albums of the 1960s and 1970s – once the industry standard in studios ranging from Abbey Road to Rak to Island (where my monitors were originally fitted) to Wessex to…the lot.

Snap will be unique. It will be comfortable, user-friendly, hands-on and full-blooded in every way. With one of Europe’s finest studio pianos and Hammond C3 organs, a funky, very classic Neve console and the UK’s last remaining classic Tannoy studio monitors, all housed in a brand new, state of the art build, it will not merely fill a gap in the London recording scene but fill a veritable tube station full of gaps.

Yes indeed, the fun starts here…