SNAP! blog

Pt 13 – September 15th – Lift off?

At last the place is taking shape.

The flooring was delivered late last week and builder supreme, Fred, has already started laying the boards in the live room. After weeks of researching, hunting and finally tracking down the reclaimed oak flooring, I hope the effort will be justified. There’s something about seasoned wood that brings a sense of timelessness, in keeping with my Bosendorfer grand piano and Hammond C3.

I’m desperately looking forwards to posting pictures of the finished floor (bearing in mind that it will need oiling when the acoustics and fittings are complete). And hopefully we’ll have enough timber left over to grace both the small reception lobby and the control room.

Whilst others salivate at the equipment, this sad old codger gets more excited about oak floors, classic variacs and art deco doors. I like to stamp my character on spaces. Love it or hate it, hopefully Snap will ooze character.

And yes – Harry Day delivered the variacs yesterday, although they won’t be fitted until the lights are installed, themselves subject to the acoustic treatment due to go up over the coming fortnight.

Fritz’s crew have started to build a platform at the rear of the control room. It was decided to go for the old Whitfield Street vibe, with a raised platform behind the console, giving the racks a tad more clearance from the floor and allowing band members and guests to hang loose in a comfortable seating space at the back of the room, enjoying visual and aural contact with the session but out of harm’s way.

The air conditioning is now fully installed (and paid for – gulp) and is as quiet as a computer mouse. Studio two and studio one lounge/overdub area have had the double, treble, quadruple soundboard and rockwool treatment and cable trays have been hung throughout the building to carry internet CAT 5 wires, balanced mains, entry videphone and telephone cables, recording red-light wires and whatever else we need around the complex (including those essential elements we’ve no doubt overlooked).

Glass has been ordered for the two large control room windows and last but definitely not least, Harry day and Rob Haggas of Westwick Installations have delivered the massive transformers that will regulate the balanced mains system.

From a cosmetic standpoint, the place will now start to move forwards quickly. The huge amount of work behind the scenes has been frustrating to the point of inducing studio fatigue, as we’re now three months into the build, have already used the allocated budget and still the place resembles a building site rather than a studio. But hopefully that will change almost daily.

I can’t recall a midrange studio having been built to this standard in London for two decades. Sure, there are plenty that look and feel posh on the surface (although I sincerely hope that ‘posh’ won’t be a word bandied about in Snap. Sure, the place will be cool and clean, but with more of the vibe of a creative space than a hospital waiting room I trust), but I know of none that have gone to the lengths we have to ensure the basic, behind the scenes infrastructure is constructed to such a standard. Quite apart from the soundproofing, it’s the extent of the electrical installation that is so crucial to the finished project, with upwards of eight different lighting rings (allowing islands of light to be dimmed to create different atmospheres for sessions), the balanced mains and even a high ampage mains spur run in fro the local electricity distribution junction. This place will be as quiet as current technology will allow, my primary requirement to justify the audiophile equipment installation planned.

And although we’re going to come in well over budget, the cost will still be a fraction of any other similar (but always sadly inferior) build I know of thanks largely to the superbly experienced team we’ve been lucky enough to involve. Rob Haggas and Harry Day have a portfolio of helping design and install the best studios in the world, including Air Lyndhurst, Sphere, British Grove and many more, yet their fees remain modest compared to half a dozen so called ‘studio consultants’ who promote their second rate services so widely on the internet. Fritz spends every available day of the year building studios rather than talking designs as so many others do. Add to this the specialist skills of Ivor, the electrician bought in by Rob, Fred, the builder brought in by Fritz and Tom of Floorsmiths, and I doubt we could have assembled a better team irrespective of our budget. So for all you budding studio owners out there, the best can be available on a relatively modest budget.

Finally, hats off the Marco for his assiduous project management. I can point to dozens of savings we’ve enjoyed as a direct result of his involvement but can’t think of any areas where we’ve wasted either time or money due to an error or oversight on his part. Always cautious with the pennies and always weeks ahead with his planning, the project has moved smoothly forwards week by week.

Let’s hope the next few weeks are as productive of the last.

I must be barking mad.