A nearly 20-year-old Audient ASP8024 mixing console is still on the job in Daire Winston’s Beechpark Studio in Dublin, Ireland, where Irish pop vocal group Westlife is due to return to record later this year.
The 60-channel desk arrived back in 2004 – already second hand — when Winston rebuilt the control room. Apart from upgrading the power supply, the desk has been relatively problem-free and he’s pleasted with it.
Designed by Roger D’Arcy (formerly of Recording Architecture), the studio has multiple rooms that 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,” Winston explain, who maintains that eye contact between performers is key. “One of our rooms is 7 x 15 meters 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. “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, informed his choice of a mixing desk, with the the classic ASP8024 (also designed by Dearden) came up for sale at just the right time via a London broker.
Winston 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.”
He explains how the concole 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.
“However, one day I got lazy and instead of going through all the usual grief of patching mics into outboard preamps,” he continues. “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.”
Beechpark Studios celebrates its 27th anniversary this year and continues to enjoy a steady stream of clients – including some throwbacks. Original studio designer D’Arcy 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’,” Winston concludes.