Kazbar Systems was engaged to specify and integrate the upgrade for Gospel Oak Studios main Mac recording system, along with installation of Avid HD Native System, Universal Audio UAD 2 PCIe, Pro Tools 10 & 11, Logic Studio and client’s plugins.
Gospel Oak Studios has to account amongst the Midlands most comprehensively equipped recording studios. Operating since 2009, the studio is based around an SSL AWS 924 Mixing Console and Prism Sound ADA-8XR Converters. Now their studio requirements have changed and they wanted to upgrade to the latest Mac Pro with full specs.
Gospel Oak’s resident engineer and manager Barry Bayliss works closely with some of Birmingham’s finest including the likes of Dan Sprigg (UB40, Lost Prophets, Cradle of Filth amongst many more), New Killer Shoes and Ocean Colour Scene.
When originally specifying the equipment list, Barry and studio owner John Kelly wanted an equipment speck which could cater for all manors of music and production. Obviously the SSL AWS plays a massive part as everything recorded and mixed is channelled through the console.
The great thing about the SSL AWS is that it is a hybrid console. By the click of a button, it becomes a complete DAW controller with full integration and control. Even the track names in your DAW software come up in the scribble strips on the individual channels of the AWS.
When switching between mixes or sessions, all settings of the AWS are completely recallable.
Speaker Monitoring is a very personal choice, but speakers can also vary in performance from studio to studio. Barry’s preferred choice was the Focal Twin 6BE but also references on Genelec 1037A’s, Genelec 8040’s and Yamaha NS10’s.
To complement the SSL AWS is a host of outboard. The AWS has 24 discreet mic pre’s, but every studio needs some outboard choice to record vocal or instrument through. A selection of recording options brings additional variation and character to the sound of the recordings.
Gospel Oak chose to add the Avalon 737 Channel Strip and the Crane Song Flamingo Dual Mic Pre to their range.
Gospel Oak Studios’ Equipment
The Avalon 737 is an excellent choice for a main solo vocal or instrument recording. This is due to its two cascaded dual vacuum based tubes on the input stage and a high gain switch to boost the gain of the preamp. This then feeds into an Opto Compressor then a Class A EQ section to finish the sound of your vocal/guitar etc.
The Crane Song Flamingo does not have any onboard Compressors or EQ’s, but it does have its own excellent features which alter the character of the preamps at flicks of switches. From transparent to warm, along with two choices on the input impedance switch. These choices all add more colour to the tone of the recording, giving a more ‘vintage’ sound when required.
The SSL Desk and Rack
The SSL AWS has a legendary Buss Compressor and EQ on every channel, but to add additional dynamics, Gospel Oak have an SSL X-Logic X-Rack. This is filled up with four SSL E-Series Stereo Dynamics Modules and four additional Stereo Channel Dynamics Modules. These are excellent to track drums, multiple vocals or even a complete live band recordings through.
Pro Audio Hardware
Gospel Oak have a Universal Audio UAD2 OCTO brimming with plugins, but no plugin can equal the power of a high-end digital hardware Reverb unit. Gospel Oak are spoilt for choice with a Lexicon PCM 80, PCM 90 and to top it all off, a Bricasti M7 including remote. You really notice the difference with hardware Reverbs when you are working on mixes with space in them. It becomes particularly audible in acoustic mixes where you really hear the presence and quality of the Reverb tales on Vocals or Acoustic Guitars.To tweak and master the final mix, Gospel Oak have a Prism Maselec MLA-2 Stereo Compressor and MEA-2 Stereo Precision EQ.
There are many choices for stereo outboard EQ’s and Compressors from many reputable manufacturers. Some valve, some solid state each with their own characteristics which can alter the tone of a mix. The Prism Maselec MLA-2 and MEA-2 are perfect for a neutral sound, they are precise in their sound and operation without any valve colouring. Gospel Oak have plenty of outboard before the mastering stage (including the Buss Compressor on the SSL AWS 924 Console) which adds tone, variation and colour to the sound. As a result, in the final mastering stage, the sound is already warm and textured before tweaking the final mix-down.
The Mac Upgrade
As part of a recent major upgrade, Gospel Oak retired their previous Mac Pro (now used as a secondary editing system) and updated to the latest Mac Pro. The new Mac comes with 64GB RAM, 512GB SSD Hard Drive and a Sonnet 3 Slot PCIE Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis. The Expansion Chassis is housing the Avid HD Native PCIE and Universal Audio UAD2 Octo cards. The Avid HD Native then connected to 24 Channels of Prism Dream ADA8 Converters.
All this DSP power along with the outboard, gives Gospel Oak Studios truly awesome recording and mixing capabilities. They also cover all preferred ways of recording with both Pro Tools and Logic Studio as available DAW’s.