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Studio Of The Month

The Workhouse Studios

The Workhouse schows Schwartz itsch schuperschtudios


The Workhouse Studios, (Contact Details)

Manfred Mann with his latest toy — Mitsubishi's X-80 transportable two-track

Back in 1969, Manfred Mann opened his own recording studio in the Old Kent Road. Initially called Maximum Sound, it was soon re-named as The Workhouse and it is under that name that they have grown from a single 16-track to two 24-track state-of-the-art studios.

Just recently, a large amount of facelifting has been going on at The Workhouse. The original Studio One has had a few walls moved and quite a lot of interior decorating done to it. Although the equipment based around the much prized Harrison Series II 32 channel automated desk and Studer A80 24-track recorder has not changed dramatically, it is the studio area itself which has changed most. It is quite spacious, yet the 60 square yard studio area remains unimposing as it consists of two separate levels which might equally well suit a New York apartment as they would a recording studio in the Old Kent Road. It is 20ft high in some places, with a balcony running around three of the walls. Large glass doors open out into the studio area from the control room and the control room itself is light and airy with electrically operated windows in the ceiling giving daylight and fresh air.

Outboard gear in Studio One consists of a Quantec Room Simulator, EMT Stereo Plate and AKG BX20 for reverb, an AMS digital delay with harmonizer, numerous Keepex and Drawmer gates, Urei, Drawmer, Audio (Teknik) Design and Pye compressors, two Eventide Harmonizers and a Klark Tekniks delay/chorus/flanging unit. Mixdown is onto Studer, MCI or Sony PCM F1 machines, and monitoring is Crown powered JBLs.

Over in Studio Two is where you'll find most of the latest arrivals. Peering in through the glass doors, you cannot mistake the Solid State Logic 4000E 40 channel console with total recall. A new Otari MTR 90 multitrack machine was chosen to replace their ageing Studer A80 24-track and yet another mouth-watering sight is the new Mitsubishi X80 digital two track machine. With the X80, it is now possible to splice digitally — exactly as on conventional ¼" machines — with a razor blade. The 'conventional' two track machines found in Studio Two are a ½" Otari, Studer B67, and PCM F1.

In contrast with Studio One, reverb in Studio Two is provided by an AMS RMX16 and Lexicon 224 (although the two studios frequently 'borrow' each other's gear). An AMS provides the studio with digital delay as well as the Bel BD80 and Drawmer Multitracker. Urei compressors, Drawmer noise gates and Eventide Harmonizers are also to be found dotted around the control room, and yet another recent addition are Quested's latest 4x12" monitors powered by Yamaha.

The studio area for Studio Two is much smaller than that of One, measuring only 20 square yards and consequently most of the work done in Two is of the remix/DI variety.

Whilst I was at The Workhouse, there were several of Roland's new SRV2000 digital reverbs being put to the test. The engineers were so impressed with them that there was some quite serious talk of replacing their AMS reverb with several of the Roland units. From what I could hear of the Roland reverb in the context of the mixes that were in progress, it certainly sounded impressive.

Manfred justifies his purchase of the SSL mixing console in a rather simple way — that it is simply the best value around, when you take into account the features you would normally pay extra for — a quantity of noise gates, compressors (as are found on every channel of the SSL desks), full automation and computer.

Manfred Mann would appear to have made the right choice, as a look at the list of clients over the past few months would confirm: Paul Young, Hazel Dean, Propaganda, Trevor Horn and Depeche Mode are all regular clients...

The basic studio rates at £55/hour for Studio One, and £70/hour for Studio Two, which are quite competitive rates for studios of this calibre. There are, of course, the other vital studio accessories such as a kitchen, pool table and Space Invaders games, which go to complete a well rounded, comfortable and professional studio complex.



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Bel BD240 Digital Delay Processor

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Track Record: Bowie & Jagger


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

 

International Musician - Nov 1985

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Feature by Curtis Schwartz

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