On the south side of Crouch End in North London sits this magnificent 19th Century church building which UK super-producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Paul McCartney, John Legend) has reopened as the greatest new London recording studio in years. The Church has been a studio complex since the 1980s when the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart purchased the building and converted it into a creative facility fit for the likes of Bob Dylan, Radiohead and Depeche Mode who have all recorded here. In 2003 The Church came under the ownership of David Gray, and then ten years later it changed hands once more. After a colossal refurbishment and reconstruction project, The Church Studios is now entering its most exciting era yet with Paul at the helm.
Located on Crouch Hill with its stunning views over London, The Church is the most striking building in this very attractive part of town. On arrival at the studio you'll be in no doubt that this is a very special place to make a record in.
Based on the first floor of the building at the top of a large and light stairway, the immense space and aura of The Church Studio 1 will have you spellbound before you have a chance to even think about what equipment might be here. A vast floorspace scattered with musical instruments in front of the 72 channel vintage EMI Neve, big and beautiful church windows down one side of the room, and a towering ceiling featuring original wooden beams together create a hugely inspiring atmosphere and massive acoustics to boot. If you are wanting to produce that truly epic sound then you've hit the jackpot here, however there are many screens, panels and cupboards which can be brought into play to provide plenty of other acoustic options, too.
To the right of the The Church 1's entrance is a door to the booth. This is much tighter sounding compared to the main recording room, however there is still easily enough space to setup a large drum kit for those wanting a much more controlled or isolated drum sound. A large glass panel divides the booth from the live room allowing perfect visibility between the musicians, engineer and producer. Immediately outside the door to the booth is a lead cupboard and tea and coffee making facilities, as well as a stairwell leading up to the gallery (more information below).
Opposite the booth on the far side of the main recording room is a door which accesses Studio 1's original control room. Although the EMI Neve console is based in the live space with the band, Paul has kept the original control room which can currently be used as a secondary 'B room'. Just outside the control room is a bathroom and another staircase going down to the ground floor where there is a shared kitchen and two other studios, The Church 2 and 3.
Continuing anti-clockwise along the back wall of the live area, the far corner leads to the machine room and more bathroom facilities. The fourth corner of the room is occupied by an office, but next to this is a door to the old church belfry which as a unique echo chamber presents producers with all sorts of interesting recording options.
The size of Paul's spec suitably matches that of his studio. It is simply enormous, and sat at the head of the table is the incredibly rare vintage 72 channel EMI Neve console fully loaded with 1091 EQ/Pre modules. It is one of the last of its kind left in the world, and a privilege for any producer or engineer to work on. At full throttle this desk will produce the purest, warmest Neve sound possible. Take a listen to Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and you'll get an idea of what's achievable - this was the very desk which that classic Floyd record was made on.
Besides the console, there is a fantastic selection of monitors including Tannoy Super Red SRM 15X main monitors. An Apple Mac Pro 3.0GHz 8-core computer runs Avid Pro Tools HDX2, however the Studer A80 and Studer J37 tape machines are on hand for tape fans which can be combined with Pro Tools using CLASP.
Countless Mic Pres, EQs, Compressors, Reverbs, Delays and FX Processors fill the racks, and as expected, the microphone collection is just as mouth-watering. Dozens of AKG, Neumann, Sennheiser, Coles, Beyer Dynamic, Bruel & Kjaers, Korby, Royer, Shoeps and other leading mic models are available, which is just as well because the number of instruments to record here is even bigger...
There's a beautiful vintage Ludwig Vistalite four piece drum kit with several different snares; many guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and pedals/DIs (some subject to availability); an awesome collection of vintage keyboards and analogue synths; and of course, the daddy of all Steinways - the Steinway Model D Grand Piano. For the full low down on the equipment on offer at The Church Studios 1, please head over to the official equipment page.
Lastly, raised above the booth and office and covering the full width of the studio is the day-lit gallery, which overlooks the recording space below and takes in all the glory of Church 1. With a number of comfortable sofas and chairs, this is the perfect space for a quiet sit while other band members continue to lay down tracks.