Cenzo Townshend & Decoy Studios – In The Studio with Cenzo Townshend Pt.1


Hi, my name is Cenzo Townshend and we’re at Decoy Studios here in Suffolk which is my base and has been for about four years. I was a recording engineer for many years working mainly with Ian Broudie and Steven Street where we recorded everyone from Blur to Ordinary Boys to Kaiser Chiefs and then we shared a studio together in Olympic called The Bunker and that’s when I started to specialise in mixing so I was in studio three in Olympic for about three or four years purely mixing. When Olympic unfortunately closed I moved
to Metropolis where I spent two years before I managed to set up a small room here in this building while we built the main
studio. I kind of modelled it on a studio called September Sound that used to belong to the Cocteau twins in the 80s and was built by Pete Townsend and the upstairs room was a big nice area with glass frontage overlooking the Thames and that’s roughly where this was modelled
on. I was adamant that all the rooms in this building would be useful spaces that people wanted
to be in. There were compromises made in some areas to make sure that these booths and live spaces were big and airy and comfortable with glass doors and daylight because I spent literally 20 years without seeing any daylight so I was quite keen to to see some. When I first arrived here this studio was an empty barn with an office and I moved in to the office to start with to mix a Maccabees album. I then went on to a couple of other albums while we were building this and this took pretty much two years to complete. Decoy Studios comprises of my mix room which is an SSL 6000 room and this control room we’re in now which is an Audient room The live room is predominantly constructed for drums so that drums would sound good in there. The library is the vocal booth if you like although we have recorded drums in there it’s big enough for a string quartet if we
need to. The iD22 we use for the iMac in there so we do some prep or some pre and post production or if anybody comes in with a laptop and wants to do some work it’s a very quick way for us to integrate their laptop or whatever they’re using is just one plug and it’s done. It’s got two great microphone amplifiers in it so we do use it for reamping. We have used it to do piano overdubs when we’re busy in here. if somebody wants to do a piano or a guitar we can work from the Library and just use the iD22 for inputs which works fine and it sounds fantastic, no noise which is exactly what we need for that kind of work especially for
pianos. We were without it for a little while Hugo from the Maccabees spent a lot of time in the Library then when he left here he borrowed one of our iD22s. In fact I’ve never seen it again actually
to be honest. So mixing wise here we’ve worked on, we’ve had four number-one albums which has been fantastic. The Maccabees was one number 1 we had we’ve done two Maccabees albums here. George Ezra was number 1 Passenger I think was a number 1 album Apart from that we mix a lot of radio singles everyone from Christine and the Queen’s, to SOAK, to Tom Jones, James Blunt and Ed Sheeran a Jake Bugg album. So it’s quite an eclectic mixture of music that we work on here it’s either whole albums or radio
singles mainly BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 mixes. We mix predominantly in a kind of hybrid situation where we use a lot of the automation in the box but the summing is done on the consoles. We do have a lot of analogue equipment which
is something I’m still passionate about using and I still use as much as I can. Most of the equipment that you will see is patched in and need to use daily. I tend to use Pultecs and 1176s on vocals. I have an EAR compressor which is great for vocals and bass. We use a lot of passive equalisers we use a lot of hardware effects like Eventide
H3000s and Bricasti reverbs. Plugins are fantastic they just do a great
job but there are certain things that I can only get from hardware something like the Lavry or the H3000. I use a mixture of different speakers here in here we’ve got my old trusty KRK 9000Bs that are fantastic, quite evil sounding so one has to be a little bit careful with them. I’ve got the Amphions which are a new discovery to me which I love. The smaller ones in here and I have the larger ones next door. Yamaha NS10s without which I couldn’t work. I could have all the speakers in the world
but I’d have to have a pair of Yamaha NS10s maybe it’s because I’ve always listened to them but there’s something about them that works and translates very well. Using an analogue console is something that a lot of clients that I have come here, is a luxury that they don’t often have. The sonic footprint of a console for me, if we record a band and the whole band is recorded through the console, or 95% of it you might want to use it an esoteric microphone amplifier for something or whatever but generally if most of the instruments are going through the console while you’re recording it there’s a cohesion that happens it’s something that happens that gives the recording a footprint, an inherent sound already that is very difficult to achieve using three APIs on the snare drum and 2 SSLs on your overheads and a Neve on the kick drum. It becomes a little disparate for my liking really to be honest. I have all these microphone amplifiers I’ve got 16 Neves and in fact more but we found that we don’t actually need to use them we found that the sound of the console is so good and I really like the glue that happens between the instruments when we use the console and it’s just on its own. For mixing again it has a similar effect it imparts an analogue feel/sound to the mix which is great and and for guys who are learning how to engineer to do it on a work surface on a console is much more intuitive. We can show them how to do things far quicker than than on a DAW to be honest and also it leaves them with a more in-depth understanding of what exactly is happening where the signals going and why you have to have the gain right on the mic amp before the output before it goes to a compressor. It’s just a it’s a much more intuitive way of teaching somebody to work. you

2 thoughts on “Cenzo Townshend & Decoy Studios – In The Studio with Cenzo Townshend Pt.1

  1. They could just use a Focusrite Scarlet running into an iPad and get better results. This place doesn't exist, it was mocked up for the video. Cenzo is actually Norman Rowlinson and manages a drive through Macdonalds in Ipswitch.

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