Studio Spotlight: Broadoak

The subject of our latest Studio Spotlight, in association with AllStudios, is Broadoak Studios in East Sussex, UK.

Broadoak is the creative home and ‘sonic laboratory’ of producer Harvey Summers (pictured). Nestled in a rural park setting on the outskirts of Bexhill, the studios have been designed both to encourage creativity and capture it, using carefully chosen vintage equipment and microphones, combined with cutting edge digital technology and software.

Summers, who has over 20 years experience as a professional engineer, producer, artist and songwriter set up the studios in 2002 when he realised he needed more space to accommodate his recording projects. Since then, Broadoak has grown and evolved with him, and now offers recording, tracking, mixing, production, mastering (online and attended sessions) and audio restoration services to its clients, all provided by Harvey with the help of assistant engineer Glen Stebbings.

The main recording space, Studio A, boasts a spacious live room with a high, oak-beamed ceiling, cave art and changeable coloured stage lighting. Built to provide a performance area that enables musicians to feel relaxed, inspired and able to give their best, it is also packed with a wide variety of instruments.

A vintage round-badge Gretsch drum kit (ex-Royal Opera House), sits alongside an F. Mulbach grand piano, while there is also a rare red-top Wurlitzer 200 electric piano, a broad range of guitars and mandolins and some unique backline, including boutique guitar amps.

Another unique feature is the custom-built headphone monitoring system, which offers each musician a simple, wall-mounted headphone mixer, so users can easily set up their own blend without upsetting the rest of the band.

"Where possible, I prefer to record bands playing together live, since feel is king! But I’m equally happy layering; if that’s how a client wishes to work," said Summers. "I also like to spend time finding the right microphone for a vocalist to ensure a great vocal sound."

Studio A’s control room, with its solid wood floor and unique ‘steampunk’ design, is centred around a Vintage Raindirk Series III (1978) console, formerly owned by London’s Olympic Studios, where it was used to mix a number of classic albums (Queen, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and many more.)

Customised to include Marinair/Neve input transformers and a comprehensive patchbay system, it allows connections anywhere in the studio to be accessed with speed and ease from 16u quality GPO jack fields. Summers says the console is “comparable to a vintage Neve in terms of quality, but with its own unique sonic signature. The mic pre’s are transparent, open and detailed, the EQs powerful, smooth and musical and the stereo imaging is superb!"

There is also a secondary console: a Glensound 18:2 custom built for the BBC in the ‘70s, and previously owned by Babyshambles guitarist, Mick Whitnall. Summers describes it as having “unusual ‘stereo-width’ controls, which can add lots of space and depth to a mix, and mic pres which sound much like vintage APIs.” 

Monitoring in Studio A is via PMC IB1s with Bryston amps, PMC TB2s, original American Mackie HR824s, ADAM Sub and Celestion Hi-Fi speakers for additional reference. A full equipment round-up can be found here.

Recent clients include Danny Thompson (bassist for John Martyn, Nick Drake, Kate Bush, and Peter Gabriel among others), Steeleye Span, Pentangle, Jet Cohen and the Aerials (ex-Penguin Café Orchestra members), Junk Deluxe (side project of members of Alabama 3), Phil Thornton, Ellie Ford, Claire Hamill, Liane Carroll, Logan Wilson, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, as well as various major and independent labels.

Summers continued: “Clients regularly comment on the great vibe and atmosphere of Broadoak Studios, and have compared it to The Manor, where Tubular Bells was recorded in the ‘70s. We also receive compliments on the ‘laid back but professional’ approach embraced here. Our aim is to make every client feel totally at ease and relaxed while we work quickly and professionally to ensure every project comes in on time and within budget.

"We also have a smaller, pre/post-production room, Studio B, available for smaller sessions, overdubs, editing and graphic design. Any project which does not require the facilities of Studio A can be accommodated here. All this, together with plenty of free parking, easy access and palpable coffee snobbery make Broadoak a great choice for anyone seeking the best commercial quality and expert attention to detail at highly competitive rates.”

For more information on Broadoak Studios, including contact details, click here.