Studio Spotlight: Sarm Music Village

For our Studio Spotlight this month, in association with AllStudios, we’re turning our attention to Sarm Music Village, a new state-of-the-art studio complex just off Portobello Road in the heart of Ladbroke Grove, London.

Six brand new studios, a large playback/events space and an abundance of lounge and chill-out areas have been created by the team behind the world-famous Sarm Studios, to offer the privacy found at top-end studios, whie retaining the sense of community that Sarm has become known for.

“The name ‘Music Village’ is no accident," explains studio manager Jed Kellett. “A sociable atmosphere is a priority for Sarm in order to provide an appealing and creative space. Trevor Horn, who owns Sarm Music Village and previously Sarm, understands better than most what makes a great studio. Sarm Music Village funnels all this experience into a music hub where the old meets the new, matching world-class vintage gear with studios designed for the modern music industry.”

As Horn puts it himself: “Sarm Music Village is a new kind of studio – a modern version of Sarm West, giving people what they need but in an imaginative way."

Kellett adds: “All our studios’ control rooms and live rooms are linked via a central patchbay. Artists and producers love the ability to record a grand piano at one end of the building or track a session utilising an extra guitar room or vocal booth if they need it. It’s a really exciting way to work.”

Sarm (Blue) Studio (main picture) is a versatile tracking and mix studio with an abundance of natural light. Situated partially below street level, the control room and live room both benefit from panoramic views over Ladbroke Grove, through specialist double-thickness privacy glass.

The centrepiece of the spacious, Toyoshima & Flyn-designed control room is a 24-channel Solid State Logic AWS924 console, with SSL AWSomation and DAW control. Monitoring is provided by brand new Genelec 1237As with 7070a subwoofers, alongside cutting-edge DSP room calibration for detailed listening or ground-shaking bass. Yamaha NS10s, powered by fully reconditioned vintage Studer power amplifiers taken from Sarm West Studio 1, are also available. Outboard has been handpicked from Sarm West too, and includes classic tube compressors and equalisers from Tube-Tech, Urei, Summit, GML, and dbx, together with authentic Neve 1073 preamps hand-wired in Hollywood by British Audio Engineering (BAE).

"The heart and soul of the spacious live room is a beautiful 100-year-old Steinway Grand Piano, once located in Sarm Studio 2, which has been carefully maintained and regularly tuned," Kellett continues. "There are also a number of floating instruments available from Trevor’s vast collection, not least a beautiful Gibson J-45 acoustic and a stunning vintage ’70s Fender Stratocaster."

ZTT (Red) Studio is also ideal for tracking or mixing with a wealth of natural light in its control room and a world-class design. This studio combines vintage with modern, replacing a console with a myriad of top-of-the-range analogue classics, including Neve 1073 and API 3124mb+ preamps; Tube-Tech and Urei compressors; plus a vintage Fairchild 670 compressor. The live room was built to be perfectly balanced, for recording vocals, live drums or with the beautiful Yamaha upright piano.

Both the Blue and Red Studios offer top-of-the-range Pro Tools HDX rigs, new solid-state 6-core Mac Pros, a wide selection of plugins (Waves, Soundtoys, AudioEase), and the latest virtual instrument bundles from Native Instruments (Komplete 10 Ultimate). Logic Pro X is also installed and shares the same third-party plugins.

The Stiff (Yellow) Suite (pictured, above) is described as a crisp, day-lit and functional space, created for high-quality vocal sessions and fast-paced production work. Built around Genelec monitors, its fixed-panel acoustic treatment makes for a great sounding room. The studio comes with a pair of BAE 1073 preamps (built on the original Neve blueprint) and the Urei 1176 compressor, and offers access to SMV’s extensive collection of floating backline. Nicknamed Big Stiff (the Control room) and Little Stiff (the Vocal booth), Kellett emphasises that the Stiff Suite was built with the modern producer and writer in mind.

The Perfect (Green) Suite and Unforgettable (Green) Suite are writing and production studios for those wanting a relaxed space to get creative. The rooms are almost identical in size and can be booked separately or together as a control room and live area. Each comes with a MOTU 1248 USB/Thunderbolt audio interface, a pair of 1073 preamps and a vintage Urei 1176 compressor. Monitoring is provided by a state-of-the art Genelec 8250A SAM active monitor system.

Vintage microphones from the extensive collection at Sarm are available to clients across all of the studios. These include originals from Neumann, AKG, Sennheiser, and Shure, regularly maintained and serviced by Sarm’s experienced tech staff. For those travelling to the studios from further afield there is a residential option available at SMV with four large, luxury double suites located just five minutes walk from the studios, past the many restaurants and antique shops of Portobello Road.

Every room is themed with a story about the music business and each suite comes with 5G WiFi, coffee machine, Cable TV, Apple TV, washer and dryer and a complimentary basket of food and drinks upon arrival.

Even before the official opening date the studios had already hosted high profile sessions for artists such as Rihanna, One Direction and Kylie Minogue.

For more information on Sarm Music Village, including contact details, click here.