Client Requirement: To help specify and integrate upgrade of main Mac recording system to latest Mac Pro along with installation of Avid HD Native System, Universal Audio UAD 2 PCIe, Pro Tools 10 & 11, Logic Studio and clients 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.

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 then mixed is channelled through the console (no mixing in the box here..!!)

The great thing about the SSL AWS is it is a hybrid console to the effect that a switch of a button, it becomes a complete DAW controller with full integration and control, 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 found that his 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 choice vocal or instrument channels going through outboard which brings additional character to the recordings. Gospel Oak chose for this the Avalon 737 Channel Strip and the Crane Song Flamingo Dual Mic Pre.

The Avalon 737 is an excellent choice for a main solo vocal or instrument recording due to its two cascaded dual vacuum based tubes on the input stage plus 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 warmth along with two choices on the input impedance switch. These choices all add more colour to the tone of the recording bringing a more ‘vintage’ tone when required.

The SSL AWS has a legendary Buss Compressor plus EQ on every channel but to add additional dynamics, Gospel Oak have an SSL X-Logic X-Rack full up with four SSL E-Series Stereo Dynamics Modules and four additional Stereo Channel Dynamics Modules. These are excellent to track through, for when tracking in drums for example of multiple vocals or even a complete live band recording.

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, in particular 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. The point being is that Gospel Oak have plenty of outboard before the mastering stage (including the Buss Compressor on the SSL AWS 924 Console) which adds tone and colour to the sound so at the final mastering stage, the sound is already warm and textured before tweaking the final mixdown.

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 with 64GB RAM, 512GB SSD Hard Drive and a Sonnet 3 Slot PCIE Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis 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 covering all preferred ways of recording with both Pro Tools and Logic Studio.