Grand Cru Studio is a unique space, inhabiting a 100 year-old, 110 foot Dutch Barge
moored at St Katherine Docks in the centre of London. While its current incarnation
as a fully commercial facility is a recent transition, the studio itself has been around
a long time – originally called Oceanic Studios and commissioned by Pete
Townshend in the late 70s it was a valued part of Townshend’s Eel Pie Studios.
Over the last five years it has been brought back to its former glory and equipped
to deal with a flurry of Townshend projects including the acclaimed Classic
Quadrophenia. The most recent investment, heralding the studio’s new name and
new commercial status, is an SSL AWS 948 hybrid console – a combination of
classic SSL SuperAnalogue™ console technology with comprehensive DAW control
hardware in a single work surface.
At the helm is Myles Clarke, an Engineer and Producer who has worked closely with
Townshend over many years and the man responsible for re-energising this creative
and versatile space. “I am running this as a traditional commercial studio,” he says.
“…A production space for hire.
The studio makes great use of space in the Barge, with a large control room, plus
live area and smaller machine room / booth. The rooms remain true to the original
Keith Slaughter designs (Abbey Road, Ridge Farm, Air), even though some of it had
to be reinstated: “When I came to the studio lots of the bolt-on wooden panels had
been removed and it sounded awful” Clarke explains. “Pete remembered the panels.
We actually found them all in a warehouse, covered in dust, so we cleaned them off
and screwed them into exactly the same spots. We knew which went where because
the screw holes lined up!
The studio has been gradually re-equipped over the last five years, constantly
adapting to a wide variety of projects that have occupied Clarke. As a result, the
microphone, monitoring, outboard, and backline lists are impressive, along with the
new SSL console.
“The SSL is the thing that brings it all together,” says Clarke. “The SuperAnalogue
Mix Bus sounds great – just amazing… And the compressor is clean and
Even though the AWS 948 is a 48 channel console with full 5.1 monitoring, at less
than 1.5 meters wide the footprint is the same is the 24 channel version, thanks to
the Dual Path Channel Strip design. This suits Grand Cru well – giving a high input
count without taking up too much space, and providing the versatility of three
distinct operating modes, including the Stereo Mix mode that is particularly suited
to modern production mixing.
Grand Cru has already proven its worth on a number of new projects from up and
coming acts such as Jonas Blue, The Noid, and Woman’s Hour. “If a band just wants
to come in and record they can,” says Clarke. “It’s great for writing as well…