A Sharp Recording Studios has been called the oldest independent recording studio in Sydney, with music first being recorded in the early 1970's. It's been the home to many recordings over the years, and has remained an active studio since it was first opened over 40 years ago.
In late 2014 the studio was sold, totally gutted and refurbished, which involved a complete acoustic analysis, electrical re-installation and total equipment upgrade. It was a massive undertaking with the rebuild alone taking 4 months to complete with a full team working nearly 7 days a week.
For the A Sharp team, the design specification was simple; to build a ‘working living space’ with acoustics and great monitoring that Producers and Engineers could immediately trust, all within an environment that was conducive to working and recording for long periods. Artists and Producers often spend long hours in a studio, so the ‘space’ needed to be well thought out and comfortable.
Owner Richard Lake says “In the initial stages, we designed the control room acoustics for the Adam Audio S3x-H’s and our SSL AWS 948. Acoustician David Spargo, of Praxis Acoustics and lecturer at Sydney University, did a marvellous job and there’s not a Producer or Engineer that doesn’t come to A Sharp today and comment on how incredible the stereo image is. It’s also apparent very quickly that the Adam S3X-Hs are gentler on the ears, with ear fatigue being considerably less compared to other monitors when mixing for extensive periods”.
As well as the 24 channels of SSL Mic Pre's, A Sharp is constantly expanding it's equipment specifications - recently adding external mic preamps with currently 16 channels of Neve, Chandler and API to choose from.
“We find that many freelance Producer Engineers are constantly trying new combinations during tracking, being surprised at the microphone collection and amount of outboard A Sharp has” says Richard.
An array of Dynamics and EQ processors suit a variety of recording or mixing requirements. Choice units from Shadow Hills (Mastering Comp), Empirical Labs (Distressor, EL-Q), Manley (VoxBox, Massive Passive & Vari-Mu), Chandler (TG-1 Comp), Bricasti reverbs and lots of Neve make up just a slice of A Sharp’s full-to-bursting outboard racks. Get the full rundown here.
The studio boasts a 50m² live area and 2 adjoining Isolation booths - a combined 70m² being large enough to allow for an eclectic selection of work from bands, small ensembles to small choirs. The studio also has an Alex Steinbach Grand Piano (176cm).
“We regularly have it maintained and serviced - its a beautiful mellow sounding piano thats been featured on many recordings over the years. Its probably one in a hundred” says Richard.
“A favourite close mic technique for the piano at A Sharp is to use a stereo pair of matched Telefunken ELA M 260’s on ORTF high above the dampers. From there we’ll typically go into a pair of classic AMS Neve 1073’s or API 512V’s with a touch of compression from a 33609JD Neve Stereo at 1.5:1. That has proven very successful”.
Richard says A Sharp’s current studio work is 50/50 tracking and mixing.
“Many Producer/Engineers prefer to mixing here due to accurate monitoring from the Adam S3X-H’s in conjunction with an ergonomic control room workflow”.
“Being able to use both outboard hardware and extensive plugins on their projects is also a benefit. Being a freelancers’ studio, we’ve purchased extensive collections of plug-ins to cover the needs of everyone - even though we have the hardware in the racks!”.
“Even on the most restrictive of client budgets, Producer Engineers will try to book as much studio time as they are able to mix or at least checking mixes at A Sharp post tracking. All agree that having the budget to complete the mixing at A Sharp provides great results, which is echoed by those better-known National artists who insist upon it!”
A Sharp’s focus on providing a highly-resourced producer’s environment hasn’t detracted from their end-user satisfaction - artists who have recorded and/or mixed here include Ayla, Birds Of Tokyo, The Rumjacks, Dune Rats, Rose Tattoo, Screaming Jets, Toe To Toe, Mental As Anything and many more.