Ambiance 16/24-track studios
Any studio that offers the use of both a Fairlight CMI and a PPG Wave 2.2 (with Waveterm) to its customers has to be of interest to E&MM readers. Ambiance Studios in Burgess Hill do just that.
Originally set up some 18 months ago by director Nigel Bates as a means of realising his own compositions, Ambiance began life as a 16 track studio which quickly gained a reputation for its quality recordings and empathy towards the electro-musician.
The two studios themselves are housed in an air conditioned complex that also incorporates a dance and exercise studio no less. Studio One is now a fully-fledged 24 track facility based around a Soundcraft 24 track recorder with full remote capability and an Allen & Heath Syncon B 32/24/2 desk. Monitoring is by way of Tannoy Little Reds powered by a Bose 1800 amplifier, Quad 303s for studio foldback whilst mastering is done on a Studer BGM.
A 19" rack to the left of the desk holds some of the most advanced ancillary effects devices currently available including AMS RMX-16 digital reverb, DMX 15-80S stereo digital delay, Eventide H949 Harmoniser, Bel Stereo Flanger and Delay units, AMS DM-2-20 stereo tape phase simulator, DBX 20/20 computer graphic/spectrum analyzer, Master Room reverb, Rebis noise gates and several DBX 165 compressor-limiters. Interest is currently being shown in the Quantec Room Simulator.
The control room measures 14' x 12' approximately and the recording area itself is about 40' x 14'; one third of which comprises a useful 'live' room with pine walls and tiled floor. On one side is the control room window, on the other a glass partition which maintains visual feedback with the engineer and other performers. Talking of engineers, the amiable Simon Humphries usually does the honours though outside personnel are welcomed.
Studio Two is probably of most interest to the electro-musician containing as it dogs the Fairlight and PPG. The room has corked walls and the double glazed windows can be left open when not actually recording. The abundance of natural light in the room is a welcome change which makes for a very pleasant working environment indeed.
The studio features a Soundcraft 16 track recorder and 16/16/2 desk, Revox PR99 for stereo mastering with Tannoy Little Red speakers for monitoring purposes. All studio areas have tie line links (video monitors are also being added) which means you can patch equipment into any of the desks.
Included in the modest £15 per hour booking fee is the use of a Roland MC4 MicroComposer and Linn LM1 which provide a most powerful compositional aid. Other equipment available includes TR808 and CR78 drum machines, CSQ600 sequencer and Jupiter 4, Mini Moog, SH09 and Yamaha CS40M and CS60 synthesisers. A Roland GR300 guitar synth and several Ovation acoustics were jotted around the building also. With all this gear available, there's little need to bring your own!
Returning to the computer instruments that take pride of place in the room, the Fairlight and PPG can be hired for £40 per hour or £150 per day each including the use of Nigel as programmer. Although still not cheap, these prices are well within reach of many semi-pro groups.
The availability of instruments of this complexity does present problems for many bands, however, as they naturally have little idea of the vast compass of sounds available to them and thus often resort to using the preset voices or sampling function only.
The most used feature on the Fairlight is Page R, a real-time rhythm sequencer that can utilise any eight sampled voices. This was demonstrated employing samples of Simmons and Linn drums which just has to be heard!
The PPG is a recent acquisition which Nigel favours over the Fairlight due to its immediate accessibility to sound parameters provided by the analogue control section.
Specialising in electronic music seems to be paying off for Ambience who no doubt shall continue to provide facilities that remain unique whilst helping to open up the recording field to as wide an audience as possible; an action that can only benefit the industry and musician alike.
Ambiance Studios is at (Contact Details). Current rates are 24-track £25 per hour + VAT. 16-track £15 per hour + VAT.