Steve and Lindsey Trougton’s long-held ambition to own and operate their own commercial recording studio has finally been realised in Exeter, UK - a small Cathedral City in the South West county of Devon, between the Dartmoor National Park and the Blackdown Hills. Returning from a spell in New York, where the pair originally went in 2011 to study sound recording after a dramatic change in careers, they saw opportunity in the region’s growing cultural credentials. "It's an up-and-coming city with a vibrant music and arts scene," explains Lindsey. "There's a lot of investment and growth, so we thought it would be an exciting place to build our studio, and our home.
Steve and Lindsey both come from musical backgrounds. Steve is a Trumpeter, Bass player, and Vocalist, and has been in many bands from the age of 12. Lindsey is a Vocalist, who has trained in stage performance and spent a lot of time in recording studios over the years as a Session Vocalist and Vocal Director.
"There's no direct competition for us here, which we thought was quite exciting,“ continues Lindsey. “We're only a two hour train journey from London, and we have a local airport with regular flights to and from Europe."
Steve and Lindsey were keen not to build themselves into a corner where the range of potential customers was concerned, so the facility and the technology had to be flexible. They decided that the SSL AWS 948 could draw a wide crowd. "To have 48 channels in such a small footprint is fantastic," says Steve. "That was a massive selling point."
The AWS console uses an innovative dual path channel design to fit 48 channels into a 24-channel frame, and offers three versatile operating modes, selectable per channel.
"It's got 4-band EQ on every channel, selectable between E and G-Series," continues Steve. "...And SSL dynamics, and of course the Master Bus Compressor from the G-Series console… I love that!
The hybrid nature of the AWS is another aspect that Steve and Lindsey find suits their purposes well. The console’s Focus button selects Analogue and DAW Focus modes, allowing fast switching between an analogue and DAW operator focus, with reassigned meter, fader, Select switch and V-Pots. "Even when we're tracking we're on that Focus button doing the rough mix," explains Steve. "Which is pretty much ready to go when the band has finished a take. That workflow is incredible."
The Anexe Studio was built from scratch, starting with a 2.6 meter hole so the building could partially submerged into the landscape, giving them four-meter high ceilings in the live room without imposing too much on the local skyline.
UK studio design and installation specialists, Studio Creations, came up with the architectural, acoustic, and technical plans for The Anexe Studio, and completed the construction, internal finishes, and technical installation. Mark Russell, Studio Creations Director, is very complimentary about Steve and Lindsey's vision for the studio: "The flow of the place, the vibe, everything is high quality. They have a fantastic eye for style and were very clear on their preferences. It's not a 'typical' or ordinary studio. There's a great mixture of materials used inside, including the Cedar panelling taken from the original building, the New York-inspired brick work, fabric panels… Lots of things."
To help with the design process, the Studio Creations service includes 3D renderings of the designs plus an innovative 'auralisation' demo, which allows clients to assess different levels of sound proofing and isolation before committing to anything - and to satisfy any planning concerns.
Inside, the studio consists of a control room, a main live room with three isolation booths, and a recreational room with kitchen facilities. Detail is everything, and there's independent air conditioning in every space, plenty of parking, and a handy ramp to the studio for easy load-in. Even the bathroom sink is special - a one-off moulded concrete basin created from the body of one of Steve's Telecasters.
Steve and Lindsey have been putting the new facility through its paces with a stream of local acts. "We're getting to know our space at the moment," says Lindsey. "It's been a learning experience for us and we've had some great feedback."
"Bands love the fact that they can record live. The local laptop studios have their place, but there's no substitute for a dedicated live space and great equipment. Everybody knows the SSL name, though of course not all bands have experienced an SSL. They all love the look of the AWS 948, but they especially love the sound!"
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