Astoria (recording studio)

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Astoria Houseboat from the river

Astoria is a grand houseboat, adapted as a recording studio by its owner, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. It is moored on the River Thames near Hampton, Middlesex. Gilmour purchased the boat in 1986, because he "spent half of [his] life in recording studios with no windows, no light, but on the boat there are many windows, with beautiful scenery on the outside".[1]

Background[edit]

I just happened to find this beautiful boat that was built as a houseboat and was very cheap, so I bought it. And then only afterward did I think I could maybe use it to record. The control room is a 30-foot by 20-foot room. It's a very comfortable working environment--- three bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, a big lounge. It's 90 feet long.

—David Gilmour[2]

The boat was built in 1911 for impresario Fred Karno, who wanted to have the best houseboat on the river. He designed it so that there could be an entire 90-piece orchestra playing on deck.[3]

Parts of each of the last two Pink Floyd studio albums, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell, were recorded on the boat, as were parts of Gilmour's most recent solo album, On an Island. It was also used for mixing the Pink Floyd live albums Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse as well as the Pulse film, Gilmour's Remember That Night DVD and his 2008 live album, Live in Gdańsk.

Bob Ezrin has mentioned, however, that the floating studio posed a few problems when it came to engineering guitar sounds for A Momentary Lapse of Reason:

It's not a huge environment (...) So we couldn't keep the amps in the same room with us, and we were forced to use slightly smaller amplifiers. But after playing around with them in the demo stages of the project, we found that we really like the sound. So a Fender Princeton and a little G&K amp became the backbone of Dave's guitar sound for that record.

A video of Andrew Jackson, sitting at the mixing console of the Astoria Studio, is available online.[5]

Dara Ó Briain, Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath visited the Astoria while on a trip down the Thames for the BBC television programme Three Men in a Boat.

Equipment[edit]

According to an interview with Phil Taylor (Gilmour's guitar technician),[6] the Astoria was originally equipped with UREI 813 studio main monitors with Phase Linear amps. The UREI 813s were replaced around 1990 by ATC main monitors. Customized ATC SCM150ASL active speakers are used for the main left and right channels with a standard ATC SCM150ASL active speaker used as the centre channel. The centre channel sits above an ATC SCM0.1-15 subwoofer. The surround monitors are two ATC SCM50ASLs. A variety of near-field monitor speakers are used including Yamaha NS-10s and Auratones depending on who happens to be working at the studio. The acoustic design was done with the assistance of Nick Whitaker, an independent acoustician, and much of the equipment was recommended by James Guthrie and Andrew Jackson. The Astoria includes a Neve 88R mixing console, as well as three Studer A827 multi-tracks and Ampex ATR-100 tape recorders, which were modified by Tim de Paravicini, Esoteric Audio Research's (EAR) founder. The conversion to a studio also required 23 kilometres of cables, which were sourced from Van den Hul cables of Holland. There are various compressors from Pye and EAR 660 tube designs, as well as EAR 825s for EQ.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Three men in a boat feat. David Gilmour". YouTube. 2009-07-04. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  2. ^ "David Gilmour: Careful with that axe - Musician, Aug 1992". Pinkfloydfan.net. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  3. ^ "National Register of Historic Vessels". Nationalhistoricships.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  4. ^ "Alan Parsons & Bob Ezrin: Pink Floyd, Wall of Sound - Guitar World - Feb 1993". Pinkfloydfan.net. 1993-01-29. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  5. ^ "Andy Jackson - legendary Pink Floyd recording engineer feature at Astoria Studios". Recordproduction.com. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  6. ^ Tape Op Magazine #46 (Mar/Apr 2005)

Coordinates: 51°24′42.91″N 0°21′29.16″W / 51.4119194°N 0.3581000°W / 51.4119194; -0.3581000