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David Richardson - Founder of Sound Recording Technology

David Richardson born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, is an English music producer, audio engineer and musician. He founded Sky Studios with rock band Jethro Tull, the Studio later evolved to become leading facilities house, Sound Recording Technology (SRT).

David learned piano from the age of four and developed a passion for electronics and sound recording. By his teens, he was already recording top Jazz artists, this included names such as, Kathy Stobart and Ian Carr, as a young producer he had production contracts with major labels like CBS (now Sony Music) and George Martin's Air label, distributed by EMI. Apart from early roots in Jazz and Rock Music he also produced Pop records with artists that included Jet Harris and The Tornados and at the peak of their TV success, in the early eighties he co-wrote and produced Cannon and Ball's Rock On Tommy album, receiving a Silver disc.

Audio compression

In the late seventies, while working as a busy producer, he spotted in a Northern Club a very talented band called New Jersey Turnpike and they were subsequently booked to record a new album. In this group was a young Ivor Drawmer who argued a strong case not to use dynamic range compression, like many musicians he was convinced it would squash and reduce the power of the sound. After a heated discussion and demonstration David finally convinced him to achieve a really good rock drum sound was good electronic dynamic control, this moment may have changed history as shortly after this, Ivor, keen on building gadgets created his first Drawmer compressor, the predecessors of which are a common feature in most of the worlds recording studios.

Manufacturing

In the mid-eighties he started a record factory in St Ives, Cambridgeshire with business partner George Bellamy (former Tornado and father of Matt Bellamy of rock band Muse). As an engineer he became interested in process control and as a challenge set to him by RCA (now Sony Music), he created a method to produce a perfect 5 piece extrusion moulding; the first perfectly playable audio Picture Disc. At this point no one had been able to create discs within a constant tolerance and without severe warping. In this procedure he was the first engineer to incorporate fuzzy logic into the process control  by building his own logic controllers, thus he achieved RCA's quality goal helping the factory to gain further substantial clients like Virgin and Island, the new system produced many very collectible chart topping products, ranging from Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Eurhythmics and Boy George.

Mastering

After vinyl started to decline, David turned his passions towards Digital Audio. Inspired by his experience in cutting the master acetate discs for vinyl record manufacturing, he became interested in developing Mastering for Compact Disc. One observation he made was that many people were transferring analogue tapes raw to digital, not realising the cutting engineer in the past would have added EQ compression and even reverb to the final disc cut, meaning the digital version could sound bland and empty. He found the using his skills as a producer and recording engineer he could add the final audio touch to the Digital Masters, his work on rapidly became a big success and the Audio facility grew to contain six studios.

In the mid nineties he was one of the first in the world to use the revolutionary Sony 32 Bit EQ and Dynamic controller, SPD 1000, Re- Mastering made a new success of many older recordings, some of which included the chart topping album One Step Beyond and the biggest selling Jazz CD of the nineties, Jazz on a Summer's Day, this made new hits of tracks like as Take Five and The Girl from Ipanema. By the late nineties Mastering became an important ingredient for almost all recordings and David was to work hundreds of albums and tracks from world biggest artists, these ranged from solo artists like George Michael and Robert Palmer to Rock Bands, such as Queen and Deep Purple. Being a leading engineer at the start of the digital audio revolution his own work, plus the training of many technicians made a major contribution towards establishing the present importance of Audio Mastering which is now a standard embellishment process, for most commercial audio products.

Classical recordings

In addition to his work on hundreds of successful chart products David was a leader in creation of the first 20-bit recordings and was the very first person create recordings  using Sony's SBM Noise Shaping; with a team of staff under his supervision he recorded over 120 high bit classical albums with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, working with some of the world’s leading performers and conductors, such as the late Yehudi Menuhin and Sir Charles Mackerras. The narration for Peter and The Wolf was produced by Richardson and recorded in London with the actor Sir John Gielgud. Sound Recording Technology's classical team recorded the RPO series on its own Mitsubishi 20-bit reel-to-reel machines in many locations, including CTS Studios in Wembley, Watford Town Hall, Abbey Road and at SRT's own studios in Edison Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire; following each recording, all the source recordings underwent up to one hundred hours of audio post production. The final outstanding recordings received critical acclaim in the leading classical publication The Gramophone and most of the recordings are still widely available. In 1997, he collaborated with Buckingham Palace or him personally to produce the official recording to commemorate the decommissioning of HMY Britannia. The recording was of British music performed by the RPO and Chorus conducted by Carl Davis; it includes material such as Coronation Scot, "Jerusalem" and Rule, Britannia!. The recording was another technical milestone; it was the first classical recording in the UK to be recorded in high bit digital, treated with 32-bit sound processing and then scaled to the final master using a new format at the time, HDCD.

Present

David left Sound Recording Technology in 1999 but continued as a consultant while hosting a late night chat show on Central Radio, in Southern Spain, where he also lived for a number of years. In 2005 on return to the UK he started Chapel Kensington and Audio/Video post facility, returning to mastering music for CD and Audio for Video, in 2008 among many projects he created a new 5.1 surround soundtrack for the original cult series The Prisoner, which was re-released having been visually restored from the original film footage. Other audio visual related work includes the Music for Hollyoaks and worked for Dancing on Ice and since returning to post production he has work on tracks that include successful artists like Beyoncé, Pussycat Dolls, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez and Lemar.

In September 2010 Chapel Kensington bought the Sound Recording Technology brand and web site to run under Chapel Kensington.  Apart from audio work on mainstream products, the re-acquisition of SRT has returned David to mastering a lot of material for new and talented independent artists.  - http://www.chapelkensington.com/about.htm

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