SPACEWARD STUDIOS 1981


After the move to the village of Stretham, about 10 miles north of Cambridge, this picture shows the famous in-house designed and built microprocessor controlled 56 input desk, the Studer A80 24-track, and various outboard gear. You can just make out the original  in-house 16-track hiding behind the desk. Monitoring was on B&W 801s later changed for 808's and augmented by a pair of JBL 4343s and Yamaha NS10s. Mastering was onto Studer B67 1/4" using Dolby A throughout until the PCM F1 arrived when material was usually digitally mastered. The most complex session was Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin's "Busy Doing Nothing" engineered by Ted Hayton when a second Studer 24 track was synced up. Dave also produced and Ted engineered Nigel Planer's alter ego Neil from "The Young Ones" with his hit "Hole In My Shoe" here. In this room Mike also co-produced the Stranglers single "Always the Sun" and their 1986 album "Dreamtime". Notable assistants on this album were Ted Hayton and Owen Morris. Even after the studio was closed the Stranglers made a return visit in 1992 for much of the recording of the album "In The Dark", produced by Mike.

And the desk lives on...

"Anyway, for those remotely interested........we, The Waves/Katrina and the Waves...bought the entire contents of Spaceward and installed it all in our own studio (which still exists) NW of Cambridge just off the A14. The famous desk eventually got replaced and it went to our engineer, Steve Stewart (of The Enid fame) at his place. Unbelieveably the computer section of the desk has only finally given up the ghost in the last couple of weeks!!!!! BUT - Steve will be rebuilding it so he can use it as a straight in/out desk. Thing is, it definitely has a sound of its' own - pretty rock n' roll snare and vocal sounds - and in these days of digital recording it's even more useful than ever."

Alex Cooper - Feb 13, 2004


Click here to enlarge

Click here to enlarge

 

 

This was a custom one-off device I made for Dave Stewart during the period he and Barbara Gaskin were using the studio heavily in the mid '80's.
 
Dave was a big user of Simmons drums, and he discovered that the drum sound generators sounded much more interesting when triggered from a more complex waveform than the "click" generated by a Simmons pad or a sequencer trigger. Although that produces the standard Simmons "dff", using a more complex trigger causes the Simmons sound module to generate an extended, weightier, sound.
 
Accordingly, Dave asked me if I could do something to augment the click triggers, and I suggested this idea. Each channel is basically a damped oscillator, which when triggered, generates a burst of low frequency oscillation. AFAIR it has controls for the frequency and the damping, which control the sound and duration of the extended trigger to be fed to the Simmons unit.
 
So it is more than just an interface, it is designed to augment the sound of the basic Simmons kit, and lend it a new, more complex and often darker character. It is only of use together with the Simmons. Anyone with an interest in Simmons drums would find this fascinating, and I suspect, irresistible. I only built one unit, so the result is, of course, a unique sound for the Simmons owner interested in getting more innovative sounds than you can get with a basic kit.
 
Mike Kemp, June 2012