Snap Studio 1 – The Gear

The brief for Snap Studio One was simple; we demanded the very best equipment that money could buy, irrespective of vintage. Having pushed the technical specification of the building to the limit, the studio deserved the best. The result is both unique and uncompromising, the match of any facility in London.

Opinions may differ as to the best sounding mixing console ever made, but few would argue that Rupert Neve designed some of the best and that the golden age of Neve spanned the decade between 1970 and 1980.At the heart of Snap sits an ultra rare, 1972 Neve 5316 recording console. Discrete throughout (i.e. without any integrated circuits), this offers superb class A/B electronics, with 33114/33115 mic pre/eq modules based upon the legendary original Neve 1081.What makes this 53 series console so special is that it is an ultra-rare recording version of the better-known broadcast desks and offers 32 inputs (with eight aux), sixteen groups and sixteen monitors (all with aux’s and routable to mix). In total, the console offers 48 inputs on mix, all with eq (the monitors having classic Focusrite ISA110’s strapped in line).

In addition, the control room boasts a twelve channel matching sidecar, bringing the total number of channels on mix to sixty – more than enough for all but the most ambitious session.

Augmented by sixty channels of genuine Neve Flying Fader automation, Snap’s 5316 offers the ultimate sound for tracking or mixing.

Whereas few producers would put their reputations on the line by quoting their favourite main monitors, all will readily list their pet hates. In short, main monitor selection is often a choice of the lesser of all evils.I’ve always loved Tannoy dual concentrics, particularly Classic 1960’s Reds in Lockwood cabinets. For a dozen years these were industry standard in top studios including Abbey Road, Rak, Decca, Wessex, Trident…the list goes on and on. So when I stumbled across a pair of original Reds from Island Record’s legendary Basing Street Studios, I couldn’t bear to part with them. Not merely did they sound amazing but they are probably the self-same monitors used to mix the true classic Bob Marley, Free, Fairport Convention, King Crimson and many other seminal albums.Now restored by Lockwood Audio, these beautiful monitors lurk behind the control room walls, augmented by ATC subbase drivers, Tannoy supertweeters and custom Murray Harris discrete electronic crossover networks.

Special monitors require equally spectacular amplifiers and after careful trials we chose huge EAR (Tim Di Paravicini) monoblock tube amps mounted directly below the speakers to minimise cable runs and maximise definition and imaging. Needless to say, provision exists for 5.1 surround sound mixing, with a permanent centre speaker above the control room window and Vovox cable runs to two outlets at the rear.

Of course, important though main monitors are, most sessions rely upon near and midfield monitors. Accordingly, Snap’s storeroom bristles with options, including the latest ATC SCM25A-SL three way mid/mains (offering an alternative to the Tannoys if required), the obligatory Yamaha NS10Ms, ProAc Studio 100’s (with Bryston amps) and many more.

Protools HD3 is standard, of course, together with front-end software of your choice and myriads of plug-ins. Needless to say, the converters are Prism ADA8’s – undoubtedly the most transparent available.For those who, like me, love true full-blooded analogue sound Snap offers two-inch twenty-four and (crucially) two-inch sixteen-track analogue. Put drums through the Neve or Focusrite preamps and track to our sixteen-track and you’ll feel the room shake as the bottom end comes alive.Mastering? Our Ampex ATR102 half inch is hooked up via Vovox cable to offer the ultimate punchy, in-your-face masters.

As with every piece of equipment at Snap, our analogue machines are regularly maintained and lined up before each session (just like in the good old days). After all, our philosophy is not merely to offer the best equipment but to maintain it in tiptop condition, ready to deliver superb results session after session after session.

After careful research, we opted for the Aviom foldback system. This is fed from the aux sends and allows musicians to set up their own individual mix in the cans (Beyer DT100s and DT150s). A patchbay in the machine room and tie-lines throughout the building enable monitoring in every room in the building, including The Blue Room (Studio One’s private lounge), the kitchen and even Studio Two overdub booth. After all, if drums, brass or vocals sound great in the kitchen, why not track there? And of course, this allows up to four separate and fully isolated rooms to be used simultaneously to track the most sophisticated session, all with perfect communication and foldback.