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Tascam 4 track recorder

Roland VS880 recorder

Roland VS1680 digital recorder

Primrose Hill Recording Studio - Past, Present and Future

The present studio has evolved from it's early days (1989) when it was set up in the kitchen of our house for the purpose of recording the musical talents of our friends and family. The technology at that time was limited to a domestic cassette recorder and a Peavey Ultraverb effects machine. Larger projects were routed through a hired Peavey 12 channel mixer and recorded 'live' on to cassette tapes. As there was no possibility of 'post recording' mixing or editing using this method when recording a new song, we had to make sure we got it 'right first time' when the 'record' button was pressed (after a few practice runs through for a level check). These early recordings were understandably less than ideal! The first leap in technology was the purchase of a DAT recorder. This greatly improved sound quality by eliminating 'tape hiss' and increasing the audio dynamic range. The only down side was that we had to beware of peak overloading. Digital recording is not as forgiving as it's traditional analogue counterpart, and peak overloads come out as a nasty crackle that will ruin the recording. Take two!

The next investment was a Tascam 4 track cassette recorder. This was a step back to 'analogue', but also a step forward to 'multi-track' recording. This gave us access to two extra tracks, and introduced the technique of 'track bouncing', which increased the effective track number to seven, with only one generation of loss in sound quality. We really needed these extra tracks by then, as our recording projects were becoming more complex and ambitious. The Tascam had limited mixing and EQ facilities, but they were at least there. We now had the ability to 'post record' process the sound until it was something near what we wanted. The songs were then mastered to the DAT machine in their proper running order, rather than just as they were recorded at the time, using the old method.

By 1997, the digital age was looming. The Tascam was replaced by a Roland VS880 eight track digital recorder workstation, recording to 'hard disk'. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven! We could record up to 64 individual tracks on this unit, EQ, edit, cut & paste, add effects etc., and mix down to a final eight tracks for playback - all within the digital domain. Mastering was still to the DAT, via a digital link, so no loss in sound quality. The audio dynamic range was a vast improvement over the Tascam, and songs were beginning to sound more like the 'real thing'. It was about this time that something drastic had to happen to the studio. The kitchen table just wasn't the place for all the recording that was going on, especially when everything had to stop at teatime to make way for dinner plates! There were also grumbles of discontent from other members of the household, who had to remain deadly silent while recording was in progress. So we took the decision and got the builders in. We had the usual 'garage conversion' done at the front of the house (who uses a garage for cars anyway?) and a purpose-built recording studio extension on the back. The kitchen looked empty after I had moved all the recording equipment out and into the 'new studio'! Life then became so much easier. Recording could be done at any time of the day or night - and regularly did - without disturbing anyone in the rest of the house, and without the need to stop at meal times. We always would stop for food - but not for the old reasons. Luxury, to be sure!

I never imagined that I would need more than the eight playable tracks on the VS880 when I acquired it, but after increasingly more complex recording projects over the previous couple of years, it was found that eight tracks just weren't enough. In early 1999, I was delighted to find the VS880's 'Big Brother', the VS1680 - sixteen playable tracks, hundreds of virtual tracks, improved visual displays and wonderful improvements inside! A CD writer was included with this workstation and studio mastering could be done within the Roland itself, doing away with the need for the trusty DAT. After mastering, the songs could be written directly to CD in a 'playable' format.

Various 'goodies' have been added on the way, including the Korg keyboard, a selection of studio quality condenser mics, monitor speakers, headphones etc., which brings us up to the present day. Finance for the acquisition of studio equipment and upgrading of facilities has been assisted by donations from the musicians and vocalists who have made use of the facilities for their own musical purposes, whatever they may be, and I continue to thank them for their generosity. The studio continues to evolve as time goes on, and with the improvements in technology, the finished results are sounding more professional than ever before. If you have an interest in recording your songs or tunes in a 'Home Studio' environment or 'On Location' with the mobile studio, you can contact us via the E-mail address below.

Thank you for your interest in Primrose Hill Studio. Our E-mail contact is

Material Copyright © 2000 Primrose Hill Studio

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