SNAP! blog

Pt 6 – The gear

Key to the Snap Project is the fact that I already own a collection of rare recording equipment and instruments in need of a permanent home. I’ve accumulated these to be used rather than stashed away and have lent much to friends over the years. Indeed, my Telefunken Elam 251 mic is currently being used by Kylie Minogue having previously been lent to Coldplay for lead vocals on their last album amongst many others.

A comprehensive list will be posted shortly, but here is a summary if the main lumps…

Console
I’ve always been a Neve fan. The choice of a 48 channel VR was therefore easy. Sure, VR’s often get a bad rap but this is because owners frequently neglect maintenance.
Fundamental to the Snap philosophy is to ensure that every piece of gear in the studio works to its utmost. Maintenance is the first, the second and the last priority.
Our Neve will be overhauled by Boffin Island to the nth degree. But that’s not all…

Lurking at Funky Junk is the output section from the Legendary Metropolis Focusrite console, which was sadly split to make racks.
This comprises a class A active bussing rack, bristling with transformers. It is this more than anything that gave the few Focusrite consoles manufactured their distinctive, ‘classic’ sound.

This rack will be built into the main and bus outputs of the Snap VR, in theory adding a classic, class A transformer balanced sheen to the desk. If theory translates to reality, the console will combine the best of modern facilities – dynamics on all inputs, five-band eq, flying fader automation, eight auxiliary sends – with the upfront, ‘in your face’ sound of the Focusrite or a classic Neve.

That’s the hope…watch this space to see if it bears out in practice.

Monitoring
The heart of any control room is monitoring.
Over the years, I’ve suffered just about every make of monitor known to man. Some are unbearable, some are merely tolerable, and some such as ATC’s) are impressive. But always I revert to my favourite Tannoys.
I thought I was going out on a limb when I decided to fit Snap with classic, 1960’s fifteen inch Red monitors in vintage Lockwood cabinets, augmented by JBL subbase speakers and Tannoy supertweeters. However, once Roger at Lockwood had serviced and matched the speakers and we ran a day of listening tests, the results vindicated my decision. And to my pleased amazement, the general reaction to my choice has, to date, been universally positive. It seems I’m not alone in my love of these fantastic speakers.
Having chosen this rather eccentric approach to main monitors, I selected amps with care, settling on Phase Linear for the mains and a massive Yamaha 5002 for subbase. Provision will be made for surround sound mixing (laying in Vovox cables of course), and Rob Haggas will design and build a no compromise crossover system to ensure minimal distortion between main and subs.
If it doesn’t work, I’ll revert to ATC’s I guess, but hopefully I won’t need to. I’m firmly committed to building the best sounding control room in London, and if this involves some eccentricity, so be it.

Recording
Protools is, sadly, obligatory these days. But I’m an analogue man, and it therefore goes without saying that the studio will also feature an analogue multitrack, with sixteen and twenty-four track headstacks, easily accessible from both control rooms. Oh, and with both quarter and half-inch analogue mastering, of course.

Reverb
As well as the usual selection of Lexicon, AGK, Eventide and other digital mainframes, Master Room, Orban and other springs, Snap will feature two EMT140 reverberation plates and an EMT240 ‘gold foil’. Add these to the unique tile room, and Snap will compete with any studio in the world for processing.

Front end
Although the Neve VR boasts excellent mic preamps, these will be augmented by a twelve-way rack of classic Neve 33114 and 33118 class A/B 1081 stylee mic pre/eq and one of Lincoln Fong’s superb eight way Focusrite ISA110 class A mic pre/eq racks (based upon the Metropolis modules). Add to this pairs of rare Allotrope and Mayfair pre/eq’s and a pair of massive old tube BBC preamps, the studio will boast the ultimate collection of quality preamps for tracking. And needless to say, all will work faultlessly.

Future pages will cover compressors, eq, processors and microphones destined for the facility. Needless to say, the quality will be commensurate with every other area.

Onwards and upwards. The fun starts here.
Read on.