Crooks Hall is a brand new residential recording studio located just outside Haverhill in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Housed in an outbuilding within the grounds of a 17th Century Hall over a kilometre from its nearest neighbour, the studio officially opened in April 2012 and is owned and operated by drummer / producer / engineer John Metcalfe.

John’s vision was “to create an affordable, residential studio where the recording process could be exciting, yet still available to those on a tight budget. Over the years,” he told us, “I have worked in a lot of studios, many of which have had great equipment and talented engineers but which have been based in dingy, industrial units. I think the single, most important part of getting a great sounding record, is to capture a fantastic performance, but if the musicians aren’t in the mood, then it just doesn’t have that magic. Getting excited about the music is our main focus. I want people to come here to escape everyday life but I also want to keep the price on a par with the industrial unit studios. That way we can give artists who are on a strict budget the choice of a studio where they can feel a bit special.”

The studio at Crooks Hall is both modern and spacious. Internal acoustics were designed by Bryan Pape of GIK Acoustics and the control room features stunning exposed beams, plenty of natural light and solid oak floors throughout. Moveable acoustic panels give flexibility to the live room and high levels of soundproofing allow recording to continue at all hours of the day or night. You can even watch the sunset across the fields!

At the heart of the control room is an Allen & Heath GS-R24M console complemented by a couple of tube channels providing analogue warmth. The DAW of choice is Cubase 6.5 but, if a client prefers Pro Tools or another DAW or even their own computer to record to, these can easily be patched in. John pointed out, “One of the great things about this console is that you only need a firewire port and a cable to plug your own DAW into the whole studio. It’s a very efficient way to work.” Monitoring at Crooks Hall is also suitably high end. Unity Audio’s The Rock monitors are paired with a Genelec 7060b sub “to give a fantastically detailed picture of exactly what is going on in the mix.” Alternatives are available for comparative purposes, including Fostex and Tannoy active monitors.

Perhaps unusually for a studio like this, there is no outboard equipment. All processing is done ‘in the box’ via an extensive collection of top quality plug-ins from Waves, Sonnox and Lexicon, amongst others. There are plans to add outboard in the future but, until then, any specific items can be hired in, prior to or during a session. Mics available at Crooks Hall include Neumann U87 Ai, sE4400a, sE T2, sE Gemini III (valve), SM57s, SDCs, ribbons and more. There is also a custom DW Drums house kit with a huge selection of cymbals from Zildjian, Paiste and Sabian, ‘a lot of’ snares and a Roland TD-8 electronic kit which is permanently plumbed into the control room.

Even more unusual for a studio in this price bracket are some truly luxurious, on-site facilities including a tennis court, heated outdoor swimming pool and accommodation for up to six people within a self-contained two-bedroom cottage adjacent to the studio building. For further information or to enquire about booking a session you can click through to Crooks Hall’s details here.

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