A nearly twenty-year-old classic Audient ASP8024 mixing console is still going strong in Daire Winston’s Beechpark Studio, where Westlife are due to return to record later on this year. The 60-channel desk arrived back in 2004 – already second hand – when he rebuilt the control room. Apart from upgrading his power supply, the desk has been relatively problem-free and Daire couldn’t be happier with it. “It has been extremely reliable. For the way I work, the Audient is perfect!”
“It has been extremely reliable.”
Designed by Roger D’Arcy (formerly of Recording Architecture) the studio has multiple rooms which are acoustically isolated and yet have sightlines between them. “This allows us to make recordings without ‘spill’ but yet musicians can have visual contact with each other,” explains Daire, who maintains that eye contact between performers is key. “One of our rooms is 7m x 15m with a high ceiling and is ideal for ‘band in the one room’ style recording, much like the old records were made.”
His background of 40 years as a sound engineer has shaped the way he works today; he came up the ranks the ‘old-fashioned way’. “I got my first job making tea in Lombard Studios and worked on sessions with the likes of Thin Lizzy and Chris DeBurgh,” he says. Cutting his teeth on the Lombard’s Helios console and many Dearden-designed DDA consoles as a freelancer along the way, meant he knew what he was after when choosing a mixing desk. Fortune was smiling on Daire, as the classic ASP8024 (also designed by David Dearden) came up for sale at just the right time via a London broker. “When I saw the console, I knew it was exactly what I needed to further the expansion plans for Beechpark.”
“for drum recording the Audient is fantastic.”
Daire and his studio tech, Jim McDaid set about wiring it in to the studio with a new patchbay. “We designated 24 channels to our main studio, the next 24 to the live room and the last 12 to FX returns. A comprehensive patchbay was installed, we hooked it up to our ATC SCM 300 monitors and we were ready to rock!”
Daire explains how the British desk has helped streamline his studio technique. “I like to record as much of the music simultaneously as I can – quite often that might just mean guitar, bass and drums but even those are most likely going to take about 16 inputs. Back in the noughties it was all the rage to use outboard preamps with ridiculous price-tags and for a few years I confess I fell into that trap too.
“When I saw the console, I knew it was exactly what I needed”
“However, one day I got lazy and instead of going through all the usual grief of patching mics into outboard preamps, I plugged the drum mics straight into the console. I was amazed at how easy it was to get a sound: the ease of being able to set levels, switch phase, inserts and simple combining of say, two snare mics was a doddle – just like the old days!” he laughs.
“Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention the EQ, which is not something I usually do much of, but sometimes that top snare mic just needs a bit of help! So, for drum recording the Audient is fantastic.”
Beechpark Studios celebrates its 27th anniversary this year and continues to enjoy a steady stream of clients – including some throwbacks. The original studio designer, Roger D’Arcy apparently has a vision of recording a song in every studio he designed. “It turns out Roger is a great songwriter and when he came to us last year, we got on so well that I believe we must have recorded about nine songs, which became his new album: Road To Stameen,” says Daire.
He reels off a list of the next few bookings: “Upcoming visitors to Beechpark include Clannad (anyone remember the theme music from Harry’s Game?), singer/songwriter Paul Brady with Andy Irvine, Donal Lunney and Kevin Burke and then later on in the year, we look forward to the return of Westlife.”
Of all the advice that he’s had over the years, his top recommendation has been to listen to lots of other people’s music. “My music collection is now leaning towards 4000 CDs of many different genres. I’m still hungry to hear what others do. It’s all about listening!”