Gearbox Records – Not your average record label

Gearbox Records – Not your average record label

The website (www.gearboxrecords.com)  boasts their own ‘bespoke vinyl mastering studio’,  ‘specialising in extremely high quality and previously unavailable vinyl cuts’ which immediately grabbed our attention, as these sort of labels and studios are few and far between.

The main focus for Gearbox Records is to provide high quality, sonically accurate vinyl and their key to achieving this is to remove any digital signal within the signal path.  Most studios specialising in vinyl usually add a digital delay just before the lathe to allow additional monitoring but Gearbox Records feel that this alters the signal.

Darrel and Adam kindly invited us to see the studio.  Upon arrival, the first thing one is greeted with (apart from their enthusiasm), is the fully restored Haeco Scully lathe – a beautiful piece of engineering!   Complete with Westrex cutting heads and amps which were produced by the professional arm of Western Electric. It was obvious to see the care and attention taken to restore and service this late on an on-going basis.

The studio has been designed with flexibility in mind, allowing Darrel to move the desk around as space allows for the artist to record. The studio side is made up of numerous vintage products, all combining to create a stunningly accurate vinyl cut.  Components include a vintage Lang Pultec EQ and limiter, Maselec master control and de-esser and Prism Maselec EQ, all at the EQ stage. A vintage RCA KU-3A ribbon microphone is the main microphone used to capture the recording.  One of the other components that really stands out, apart from the lathe, is an extremely rare Studer C37 valve reel to reel tape source complete with both Mono and Stereo head blocks.

The playback area consists of a complete valve system from Audio Note- the 211 Tomei Kensi design power amplifier and Audio Note Pre Amplifier with Phono stage for high-end mastering.  This allows playback of releases on vinyl or digital via a CAD DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter, the only Digital product in the studio!).  The system sources consist of a PC for digital imports from other studios, an Audionote turntable, ex BBC MC EMT 948 Reference turntable.

Amplification for the playback area is provided by 211 valve Tomei power and amd M6 valve pre amp with phono stage for high-end mastering.

Enough of the ‘technical stuff’….  It’s plain to see that Darrel and Adam take this very seriously, no expense has been spared on the equipment and the maintenance.   Subsequent visits found the lathe being serviced or components being integrated to further improve the quality of cut.  The studio itself sounds fantastic (acoustic design is courtesy of Munro) – when listening to either a digital playback or direct from vinyl – it is something truly special.

Through the valve playback area, especially on vinyl, the experience is immediately involving.  The atmosphere you get from the vinyl is very clear and easy to hear and grabs you straight away to want to listen to more.  Darrel demonstrated the difference between a track that they had received from an artist in a digital form vs the track mastered onto vinyl.  The difference was huge!  Even the hi-res file played through a specially designed USB DAC struggled to compete with the presentation of the vinyl.

The studio has already been attracting interest from numerous other studios and artists within the same complex wanting to cut tracks and albums to vinyl.

The Label

Gearbox Records specialise in Jazz and Blues artists with a mixture of signing current artists or sourcing previously unheard recordings.  Gearbox Records have successfully found and released previously unheard recordings from the Maida Vale studio for the BBC, BBC Jazz club sessions and other unreleased studio sessions.

Along with these releases, Gearbox Records have also signed artists such as Simon Spillett and Sasha Siem and released limited edition albums which are already proving very popular.

Gearbox Records sell their vinyl either via their website or via a selection of specialist record stores and hi-fi retailers.  For more information on Gearbox Records visit www.gearboxrecords.com

 

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One comment on this post

  1. Thanks for the great piece about us and what we do, we’re delighted to be using the excellent Chord Company cables in our mastering studio. I’ll never forget the time you demonstrated the quite astounding difference in sound quality and sheer volume when using one of your mains cables. More power to you!

    Reply to Adam

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