“The original Disciples studio was started in my bedroom in `86, but a little later in the 80`s i built a small purpose made studio in the back garden, hence the name Backyard Studio, its a concrete block building measuring just about 2m x 3m floor space and 2m high, i added a small L shaped vocal area some time later. In the early days i recorded on 1/4″ reel to reel 8 track tape, going into a Seck 12/8/2 mixer, using drum machine, live bass / guitar / percussion and keyboards.
There were various small upgrades over the years until in the early 90`s i started using a hardware sequencer, a Roland MC50, and got into the whole midi sequencing thing, i used sound modules like a Roland U220, an Akai S950 sampler, Alesis HR16 drum machine and various other bits, i used to stripe a timecode from the sequencer onto the 1/4″ tape and use the tape for voicing and some live played instruments. In `95 i bought my first computer system, it was a Soundscape unit and could record 8 tracks but only had 4 outputs, this was sync`d to my sequencer, by this time i was working on a Soundcraft Studio 24/8/2 mixer. In the later part of the 90`s i went fully over to recording on computer, i use Cubase as my DAW, at around the same time i had changed my studio desk to an Allen & Heath GS3000, i also started to get into plugin use, i had read some articles in studio magazine SOS (Sound On Sound) about UAD dsp cards and decided to go that route, with thier emulations of vintage gear it took my interest.
In early 2000`s i had the chance to upgrade my desk again, this time it was an old pro desk, a Soundcraft Sapphyre, which was previously the desk Fashion Studio used. During the 00`s i started to get a lot of outside work and it meant i had a need for a setup that allowed total recall, at the time i used to set all channels on the desk to 0, and did most of my processing ITB, and really only used the desk for its auxillery sends for mixing dubs, i used to have setup sheets to mark down anything specific for a track so i could recall at later dates. Finally in the latter part of the 00`s i decided it was unnecessary for me to have a big desk, i experimented for a while with working totally ITB and using a Behringer BCF2000 midi controller to mix, i had good reverb fx from UAD, the Bionic Dub delay vst which is controlled by a Novation Nocturn controller, and piped in some of my outboard using the soundcard i/o i used when connecting tracks to the big mixer, after a few months i felt it good enough to sell off the mixer and go totally with working the ITB box, this has facilitated the total recall neccesary for my work.
My setup now comprises Cubase 7, which i keep up to date, a UAD octo card with various plugins of which in particular i use both thier EMT plate reverbs, API Vision Channel, Pultec Eq, LA2A compressor, Roland Space Echo (for its spring reverb), EP34 Tape Echo and Studer A800 tape emulator, im still using the Bionic Dub delay tthough i contacted the maker and we currently have a revised version with added features, it will soon come on the market ! together with the virtual side i also use a number of hardware unit, for recording i have an API Lunchbox fitted with an API 550B eq, a Lindell PEX500 eq, an Elysia Xpressor (which goes on my master buss) and a Great River MPV500 mic/line pre-amp, a also have a UA 2-610 valve pre-amp and an SSL Mynx unit fitter with SSL EQ and Compressor. I also have some outboard effects like Lexicon MPX1, TC M3000, Fostex Spring Reverb and some custom special units like Tooney Roots FT1 Filter, BeniDverb and BeniDubecho.
In production i use a mixture of a number of the original sound modules i had from the old days, including Roland JV1080, Emu Vintage Keys Plus, Novation Bass Station, Roland D110 and U220, Micro Korg, Nord Rack 2X, Yamaha DX100, along with this there are VST instuments like NI Battery, Electric Keys and Hammond B4, and Trilogy Bass, i also use Cubase own Groove Agent drum module with samples that i`ve collected over the years. I play various live instruments like Guitar and Bass (occasionally !) and various percussion, i usually get live horns and lead guitar work brought in.
I still use a mixer for routing and summing, its an SSL X-desk, i mixdown to an Alesis Masterlink, and monitor through Adam P11 and Yamaha NS10`s. I run the mixdown back into Cubase via the digital connections between the Masterlink and my soundcard, i then master all my own productions using a number of UAD plugins.
UPDATE ! (24.01.2014)
“Since this piece was first written some further changes have been made at the Backyard Studio with the addition of an Allen & Heath WZ20S analogue mixer. This has replaced the use of the Behringer BCF2000 controller as the main mixer. This came about a little by accident as i was thinking one night about what would be my ideal choice of mixer, something that was based around the current setup with the BCF2000. I remembered seeing old stereo desk channels available on ebay and wondered about the possibility of getting a number of those channels and piecing a desk together, it was a bit of a dream, but when i searched ebay for stereo channels this A&H desk came up and it seemed to suit just what i wanted, but already made.
As i explained with the BCF i was mixing in to subgroups in cubase and applying dub effects to those groups. The A&H has 8 stereo channels and these are now acting as my subgroups, it has 6 aux sends for fx per channel and i currently use a combination of outboard fx and some reverb plugins routed to the desk, so i have achieved a very similar setup, sound and mix ability as with the BCF but with a little more hands on control. The desk is nicely compact and ruggedly built, but i do have some ideas of a little expansion, so will see what the near future holds!”
a London suburb