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Studio Of The Month

Eden Studios

Article from International Musician & Recording World, August 1986

Paul Bacon takes up his fig leaf and descends to Eden

Comfy chairs catching the show at Eden

Eden's is not an entirely new story; it started with an old Revox A77 stereo machine back in the early Seventies. They managed to convince the bank manager to extend them a, then substantial, £400 loan to buy a second Revox... and they've never looked back. Today, the Eden ambience is still pleasantly unpretentious, though within its modest shell is housed a pair of hard-working 48-track Studer/SSL studios in which it would be no surprise to see such stars as Elvis Costello, Blancmange, and Red Box expressing themselves freely.

Though there have been a number of equipment changes over the years, Ken Shearer's original layout and acoustic/cosmetic design of Studio One has remained basically the same since 1975; but even today it doesn't really appear dated — cosmetically a little weird in places, maybe, but not dated. Standing in the small isolation area that divides the studio and control room from the rest of the building is like standing in a bizarre, multi-coloured chocolate box; I found it very appealing. It just goes to show that if you're outre enough in the first place you can avoid the fickle hand of fashion. The control room's appearance is far less extreme, with a generally restful brown and cream finish. It's a reasonable size with the 48-channel Total Recall SSL console sitting side-on to the large communications window that looks out over the main studio floor area.

The main multitrack is a Studer A800 which can be locked-up via an Adam Smith 2600 synchroniser to an Ampex M1200 for 48-track work. The old JBL 4350s have been disposed of and freestanding Questeds are in their place, plus Yamaha NS10s and Auratones. Most of the outboard processors and effects are housed in a floor mounting natural-finish wooden cabinet and include most of what you might expect from such an upmarket establishment; Lexicon 224, EMT and AMS RMX16 digital reverbs, EMT stereo plate, AMS DDL, Lexicon Prime Time, Bel DDL and flanger, assorted Eventide Harmonizers, Drawmer gates, UREI limiters, Allison Gain Brains and other useful bits and pieces. There are a couple of Studer A80s (¼" and ½") and a Sony F1 digital (plus CTC for 1610 transfers) for mastering plus a Revox PR99 and A77 for tape echo. The floor of the 32' x 24' studio is entirely parqued and supports a Yamaha grand piano, innumerable (I didn't count them) AK acoustic screens and a plentiful supply of mike stands which are in turn supporting a range of mikes including Neumann, AKG, STC, Shure, Sennheiser, Beyer, Calrec, and Crown. The acoustic treatment presents itself as a sea of angled geometric shapes — panels, of course — all over the walls and ceiling, soaking up, reflecting and diffusing sound like billyo. There's also an overdub booth with a communications window face-on to the control room mixer.

Until last October Studio One stood more or less alone, but now there is Studio Two — again designed by Ken Shearer. It is intended to be used primarily as a overdub/remix room and thus offers a large and well appointed control room to cope with piles of synths and people in comfort. As with Studio One there's a fully automated 48-channel SSL, Quested monitors, a long (and similar) list of auxiliary equipment and an Adams Smith synchroniser, but this time it was decided to go totally upmarket with a pair of Studer A800s. A large and recently completed echo room is shared between the two studios when real, non-digital ambience is required.

The only recording area is a reasonably large overdub booth (12' x 12 ) capable of containing a full kit or good number of session singers, etc. Each corner of the booth, from floor to ceiling has been made into a bass trap so that troublesome low frequency resonances have effectively been sucked out. The mid/high frequency acoustic response is adjustable from fairly dead to fairly live: each of the walls consists of four panels the centre two of which hinge to provide either a soft absorptive finish on one side or a hard Formica reflective surface on the reverse. By folding these sections a number of hard/soft combinations can be achieved. The control room acoustic is a modular design; in other words it's a mass of acoustic box modules. This is a very flexible and reliable means of treatment and allows the absorption to be spread consistently around the room. If it doesn't sound right, it's a simple matter to change a few boxes around until the right combination is achieved. Ken Shearer's approach is somewhat more calculated than that, and in fact nothing had to be changed. And if 'a load of boxes stuck on the walls' doesn't sound too attractive, forget it — this is one of the best looking, comfortable control rooms I've been in.

Apart from the high quality of the recording facilities themselves, Eden benefits from a cook who visits daily, a separate lounge and kitchen for each of the studios plus a good size snooker room with TV, video and video games. They have made a priority of providing creature comforts because, as studio owner Piers Ford-Crush points out, life goes on whether or not you're recording music.

EDEN STUDIOS (Contact Details)

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Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Aug 1986

Recording World

Feature by Paul Bacon

This article features:

Eden Studios

Previous article in this issue:

> Tanrak Digital Delay/Sampler...

Next article in this issue:

> MTR 12:8:2 Mixer

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