March 1st, 2016
Phoenix Sound Recording Studio, Mansfield. The room where it all began…
In October 2015, after several discussions about setting up an ongoing working relationship with a fairly lose connection, I was invited to come and discuss some ‘things…’ regarding this particular business relationship and the work it entailed.
I was given an address and a time and the next morning was en route to Mansfield.
It is worth noting at this point that my understanding of where I was headed was quite simply ‘A small piano shop in Nottinghamshire…’ What I was actually greeted by was a 45,000 sq ft ex-college building housing roughly 60 and 80 Grand and Upright Pianos…. ‘Small’!
What we are looking at here is a monster piano selling operation situated within what used to Mansfield Building College, and the reason I was there? To record audio samples of each piano for sale so they were able to attach the samples to the web listings… fairly simple.
I arrived at roughly 9.30am and was welcomed in by Stephen (The lose connection). Stephen is Scottish. Very Scottish. Inside the building is truly something to behold… even those that don’t play piano still find pianos beautiful and amazing and I’ll tell you what, there are a lot of pianos in here. Given that my dear father is a classically trained pianist, I was lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by pianos and hold them in incredibly high regard. This was a playground for me.
We spent an hour or so chatting on the ground floor and Stephen talked me through some of the companies newest arrivals and a couple of plans they had to expand the showrooms to accommodate more pianos. He showed my a space in the far corner of the building, a small L shaped room with a step down into it. A fairly bleak, cold and damp room with no electricity, bricky lamps, high ceilings and concrete floors. Pretty uninspiring.
We ventured up to the first floor which is quite simply one of the most amazing spaces I’ve ever seen. Currently standing unused, it was a blank slate and Stephen had big ideas.
The top floor of the building was the last place I was taken to and to my surprise, it was a flat, where the three of the company owners lived. I was led down the corridor to the kitchen/office and offered Tea and a Bagel. Who could refuse?
Time to talk business. Throughout the day Stephen had kept referencing the depressing L shaped room in the corner on the first floor and I clearly just hadn’t twigged. What he came out with was the last thing I was expecting;
‘Reckon you could build a recording studio in there?’
I didn’t leave the building until roughly 7pm having spent the entire afternoon and early evening drawing terribly bad sketched plans of how you would fit a studio in there that was comfortable enough to work in, able to accommodate everything from drum setups to grand pianos and of course, still sound great. I left with two instructions:
1 – Make a better plan.
2 – Cost it up.
I went home with high spirits and big ideas. I was about to build a recording studio.
Fast forward to January 2016 and it was time to begin. First up, dividing the room.
Putting in the division was by far the hardest part of the build. Ensuring that it was soundproof enough without overstepping the budget and also not eating too much into the room we had available to us.
In total, it comes in at just under 10 inches wide complete with layers upon layers of different forms of insulation. By no means do I believe it would meet technical soundproof specification of recording studio wall building but this was a DIY venture and I’ll tell you this, it certainly stops the sound.
We fitted the window ourselves as well using two double glazed units with a 4.5′ gap between the two units. I won’t lie to you, we all had our concerns about the window but we were pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.
The door was once again, custom designed and built from a solid wood door from B&Q with an extended rear side filled with the same insulation as the wall. It weighs more than a bank volt door but it works.
Once the wall was up, the window was in and the door was hung, the floor went down and the paint went on the walls.
I should probably mention at this point that hanging the door and fitting the window as well as furnishing the studio and wiring the wall boxes took place on February 24th 2016. My first project started on the 25th February 2016. We worked until 3am of the 25th before calling it a night. The band arrived at 9am.
So that’s it. The inception and realisation of Phoenix Sound Recording Studio. From a damp, cold, electricity void room in late 2015 to a fully functioning, professional recording studio in February 2016. Hard work, wood, nails, screws paint and a lot of help turned it into what it is today. Please, come and visit and record your music.