We believe people do their best work with tools that are in good shape. So we invest as much as possible of our income in keeping ours sharp.
Our studio computers are fitted with 32Gb (MacPro) and 16Gb (laptop) of top quality OWC RAM and run Logic Pro X (and 9) on Yosemite.
Dual 23″ screens help us pick out the detail you work so hard to get into your images without compromising our workspace for audio.
A blend of 7200rpm, hybrid and full SSD hard drives offers us the combination of speedy access, reliability and archive space, and fibre broadband means we can upload lossless audio quickly, even in large quantities at 24/48 or higher resolution, and turn around adjustments at short notice.
There’s always a trade-off between running the latest software and hardware, and maintaining system stability. We believe in updating as often as possible so that we are able to use the most exciting new tools. However, we maintain at least two operating system boot drives at all times, allowing us to wind back in cases where that’s required.
We also keep a G5 Power Mac in the studio for all your pre-Intel needs!
Sound sources and processors
A full complement of Native Instruments plugins (Komplete Ultimate); almost everything from the extraordinary East West/Quantum Leap range including Hollywood Strings, Brass and Woodwinds; the UVI Workstation loaded with synths; boutique oddities from Key To Sound, Kush Audio and Sonic Couture; a choice selection of industry-standard UAD and Waves processors including authorised Studer, SSL, API, Pultec and EMT emulations; workhorse character plugins from Klanghelm, Sonimus and Wave Arts; plus tons more from Pro Audio DSP, Brainworx, Softube, SKnote, Spectrasonics, Sugar Bytes and so on. Our philosophy is to keep up to date with the mainstream while ensuring we bring new, unexpected and genius developments into our toolbox on a regular basis.
Digital to analogue conversion is provided by the industry-standard Universal Audio Apollo Quad, and sitting on the guitar rack are a Fender Telecaster, Ayers Dreadnought acoustic and Yamaha bass. Dotted around the studio are more instruments including saxophone, squeezebox, blues harps, bells, maracas and (of course) cowbell. Røde and sE mics can be preamped by the TLA Fatman or go straight into the Apollo, making use of its Neve channel strips.
Main monitors are Adam P11As. Our check system is the classic Yamaha NS10s/A100 combination, to which we’ve added the matching YST-SW90 subwoofer. We also reference on Sennheiser HD-25 II and Beyerdynamic headphones, and where necessary on a Marantz/JPW consumer hi-fi setup.
Where time permits, signed-off pieces are mastered externally by a trusted engineer, offering your dubbing mixer the best quality audio.
Many scores are completely electronically played these days, with extraordinary results possible thanks to the many software developers, engineers and players that create sample packages of orchestral, rock and other instrumental palettes. We fully endorse this way of working. Our years of real-world experience playing string and wind instruments both solo and in ensembles give us the technical understanding necessary to program sample instruments in ways that sound as close as possible to the real thing – as well as the ability to add real parts to most scores.
When budget and time allow, we have connections with brilliant players who can be brought into the studio (or recorded remotely) to add the final, unprogrammable individuality and expression that only a human performance at the highest level can bring.
As well as minimising downtime, we want you to be able to get an accurate recall of any stage of your project, should one be required – so we run daily backups to external G-Tech drives using Carbon Copy Cloner, and back up all finalised audio to a cloud service.
These steps, along with a detailed filenaming protocol, give us the best possible chance of doing that.
Project management and contracting
Wherever possible, we come and visit you to discuss your vision and take a full brief in person. If you’re based outside the UK and we can’t get to you, Skype and FaceTime work pretty well too. We won’t take briefs solely by phone or email except from existing clients, because so much of communication is non-verbal and understanding you and your vision is paramount.
You can expect absolute clarity on delivery times and lots of attention to detail in communications. We are also always happy to do a detailed project plan where needed, especially for pieces with multiple project teams or clients.
As members of PCAM we can issue a clear standard contract, negotiated with the IPA, that protects both you and us, and gives you all the rights you need. We are extremely straightforward in contract negotiations, and for anything complex we can bring in our solicitor, Helen Searle.