Hillingdon-based JBJ Studio recently invested in an SSL AWS 924 console to help transform its production capabilities as part of a studio expansion. The acquisition has also led to a partnership with leading global studio giant, Miloco. 12 months ago, JBJ had started out as a small creative studio.
“I have always wanted an SSL and been fortunate enough to mix on a G Series previously,” said studio owner, James Brown. “Ever since SSL introduced the AWS range, I'd been thinking 'That looks good, but I'm never going to be able to afford one'. Overtime, I kept discovering that it did other things that I didn't know it was capable of. In the end, I just had to have one, and it's been a total game-changer for JBJ.”
According to Brown, just having the SSL AWS924 desk gives his studio a certain kudos amongst clients, but it's ultimately the combination of features and sonic performance that have made an big impact in his production workflow.
“It's essentially a classic analogue board with excellent digital features - quite literally the best of both worlds – and I love the way that it speaks with Pro Tools in particular,” he said.
JBJ features both a Pro Tools HD rig and a Studer A80 tape machine, allowing the combination of the best of digital and analogue domains. The new AWS 924 extends this hybrid offering.
“There are some people who say the AWS doesn't have the grunt of an old E or G Series console, and although it might not crunch like those boards, it still has an SSL sound, and it's much cleaner in terms of the SuperAnalogue preamps. I also love the SSL X Rack analogue outboard too – the way you can recall all of the compressor settings is fantastic.”
“I find [the AWS’] EQ so responsive, so you don't need to do too much at all,” Brown revealed. “The two EQ options are so different, bringing such individual character; the E is brittle and hard, and the G is soft, but depending on what it is I'm trying to feed into the track, they're two different flavours, which is really great. It's like having two EQs.
“For vocals, I tend to use the G to kind of soften them up, but for guitars, I'll tend to use the E. Then we are mixing into a GML8200 [parametric EQ rack], which is sat on the mix bus output – and obviously, I use the SSL bus compressor.”
There are three rooms at JBJ: the control room, a fairly small live room, and a larger live room. It can play host to most audio applications, from mix sessions and overdubs to drum tracking and full live band recordings.
“Our control room was treated by [the late] Graham Whitehead, who was an acoustician at the BBC,” Brown said. “He did some work at Maida Vale, and the Royal Opera House, so it's not an overly-treated dead room, but it's fairly neutral, which is just what we wanted.”
JBJ Studio has an eclectic mix of clientele. “This week, for example, I am tracking an artist called Kasiika, along with her group of musicians; and next week, we have Tim Rowkins (Two Door Cinema Club) in mixing,” Brown explained. “Then I am also working on an album with a band called Freeman, who are doing great things. Having Miloco on board is a great move for us as they're an amazing organisation, and they've been pushing great new clients our way. It's already the busiest year we've ever had by some way, and our investment in the studio has paid off. I can only put that down to the SSL, really.”