Originally known as Morgan Studio 4, and located in what was once an old laundry building in Chaplin Road, NW2, the studio now known as The Darkroom has seen many musical legends, including Lou Reed and Cat Stevens, pass through its doors. Built in 1974, it was sold to Zomba in 1980 and renamed Battery Studios. In 2001 Munro Acoustics were called in to reconfigure the space for producer Steve Lipson (Annie Lennox, Pet Shop Boys.) Then, last year, engineer / producer Anthony Long took over the lease and has set about creating a studio able “to embrace the future at world class level, catering equally to both established and forthcoming artists.”
“Having looked at my fair share of spaces,” Anthony told us, “the decision to establish The Darkroom at Chaplin Road came down to something very simple. Walking into this control room, it just sounded “right”. That’s not really something I can put into words without you hearing the space for yourself, but knowing that it was designed by Munro for Steve Lipson probably gives some idea of the attention to detail that has been given to the room acoustically. The adjustments I have made have been undertaken for the most part by myself, with Guy (AKA Designs) providing the furniture to fit my ideas, Ian Silvester helping tweak the acoustics and Phil (Munro Acoustics) who tuned the Dynaudio M4s.”
Renovation of the studio is now complete and The Darkroom’s newly equipped control room centres around the UK’s only Neve 88D console in a commercial studio, with 500 paths of processing and 672 i/o, all of which can be configured specifically for each client’s workflow. Anthony explained, “Seeing the demise of small studios with many of my peers moving to In-The-Box mixing, the idea struck me to create a facility that would expand on the current ITB workflow. This led me to acquire the Neve 88D as the ultimate in digital audio (go big or go home, right?)
“I wanted clients to be able to turn up with their ITB systems, plug in (and recall if necessary) and be fully integrated with everything my facility has to offer in a matter of minutes. So, say a dance producer comes in, who’s already programmed their song but wants to mix it in a professional environment – they can just turn up with the system they’re familiar with, get plugged straight in, and run a full 64ch mix through my 88D and outboard. Or, say a rock band want to track drums and they’ve already got scratch guitars down – they can bring in their MacBook, record the drums down, go back to their home setup to lay guitars, and then return later to finish the mix. No rendering, no format conversion, no extra time needed. Ultimately, the idea of this facility is to be quick, easy, and flexible to use for any client – regardless of whether they’ve been doing it for 20 years or two months. We aim to be the best place to get things done!”
Dynaudio M4s provide the main monitoring in The Darkroom’s spacious control room, alongside Genelec 1031As in a 5.1 surround configuration. The main multitrack is a Cubase-equipped PC, with 168 i/o and a large plugin library. Pro Tools systems are available on request. For those who like it old school, Studer and Ampex ½” and ¼” machines are available, as are 2″ Otari MTR-90s. Outboard currently includes Tube-Tech, GML, SSL, API, Rupert Neve, Lexicon, Bricasti, Maag Audio, elysia and more.
The Darkroom boasts a 56sqm wooden-floored live room, which Anthony describes as providing “a flexible configuration of acoustic options, most noticeably utilising the full height stone wall at one end, and tight drum treatment at the other, allowing for everything from larger than life drums, through small orchestras, to tight and intimate vocals. The studio offers a collection of synths including Dave Smith, Teenage Engineering, Nord and Access Music. Also available are a Hammond B3 with Leslie, a Wurlitzer and a Mapex Birch kit. Pianos, guitars, and amps can be brought in as needed on request.”
Located within easy walking distance of Dollis Hill Tube Station, and a short distance from the North Circular, the building contains a shared kitchen, a large decking area with BBQ for the summer, and a wood burning stove for the winter. The day rate of the facility includes Anthony as a mixing/tracking engineer, however if a client would rather hire their own engineer(s) then Anthony is more than happy to work as an assistant to them.
To book the studio or to find out more about the services available please visit The Darkroom’s listing.