TECHNICS & ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS

Abbey Road Studios and Technics, two names that are iconic in the music world and renowned for their precision craft and expertise, have come together in a unique partnership that celebrates their shared commitment to uncompromising sound quality.

Photo of Technics & Abbey Road Studios Partnership - Senior mastering engineerGeoff Pesche checking a vinyl on a lathe

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road is the most famous recording studio in the world and home to countless landmark recordings from The Beatles and Pink Floyd to Oasis, Radiohead, Kanye West, Florence + The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Frank Ocean and Adele. It’s also one of the world’s premier locations for movie scoring and where The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, Skyfall, Gravity, The King’s Speech, the Harry Potter and The Hobbit films and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were recorded.

Photo of London Abbey Road – Road Sign

In the early 2017, the studios opened two new contemporary studios designed to make the magic of Abbey Road more accessible to emerging artists. Already, the two new rooms have played host to Jess Glynne, NAO, Skrillex and James Bay as well as established artists like Nile Rodgers, plus grime stars Novelist and Jammer BBK.

Technics

Technics HiFi celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015, returning to hand-making turntables the following year with the new SL-1200G. Technics has always been synonymous with innovation, introducing the world’s first direct drive turntable, the SP-10, in 1970 & the legendary SL-1200 two years later. The SL-1200’s innovative design and solid build made it a fundamental contributor to the emerging hip hop culture. The turntable’s unique qualities shaped the method and the sound of the music of the genre, and would later set the paradigm for how DJ’s played in music across the club scene.

Photo of  Technics SL-1200G Direct Drive TurntableSystem

The new SL-1200 & 1210 turntables have kept the look and feel of the originals, but have been completely re-engineered to take advantage of the latest technology & materials. Only the lid & hinges remain unchanged. The new decks have already established a reputation for sonic fidelity & dependability – for example being chosen by Abbey Road Studios for audio excellence.

Photo of Abbey Road Studios engineer GeoffPesche with a Techcnics SL-1200Gturntable

The Studios house a number of state-of-the-art mastering suites, which are fitted with the Technics SL-1200G turntable. The SL-1200G is the turntable of choice for Abbey Road’s award-winning mastering engineers, providing the perfect quality sound that the engineers demand when checking the precision of their work prior to approval for pressing. Senior mastering engineer Geoff Pesche, who has owned a pair of the original Technics 1210s for 30 years, says of the SL-1200G: ‘Beautifully crafted, it tracked everything seamlessly. This is a benchmark turntable for the 21st Century.’

Geoff Pesche : Mastermind

Geoff Pesche has been mastering records since 1980. For the last 11 years, he's been based at Abbey Road, where he's worked his magic on a plethora of eclectic albums, singles, and EPs. We sit down with the man himself to discuss the amazing resurgence in vinyl, and the importance of a top notch turntable in his studio workflow.

Photo of  Abbey Road Studios engineer GeoffPesche in a mastering suite

Geoff Pesche has mastered records for a wide range of artists: from Coldplay and Gorillaz, to Kylie, Pulp, and Dire Straits, just to name a few. He started out at Tape One, and went on to work at Utopia, Masterpiece, and Townhouse before settling at Abbey Road in 2006, where he now shares a room with fellow mastering man, Christian Wright.

Geoff Pesche on Mastering

In a nutshell, mastering is the last stage in the process of putting a record together, where you can alter the tonal balance before the product is manufactured.

Photo of Abbey Road Studios console

“Mastering is like hairdressing, really,” opens Pesche, with a smile. “Christian and I have two very different styles, so there are lots of people who work with him, but won’t even get in a lift with me, and vice versa. It’s really all about repeat business; I often won’t see an artist for four years. For example, I’ve only met Kylie twice, but I’ve been working with her since 1995; and why would Katherine Jenkins come here for the day when she can go to Wimbledon? During the '60s, independent mastering services started cropping up, not affiliated with labels, which meant artists could finally have a say in how their records were cut. That's when it became a bit more rock and roll, and client-driven; now it's a pivotal part of the process.”

Geoff Pesche on Vinyl

Which brings us to vinyl, and its incredible resurgence. Because the medium is so prominent again, record players are a key part of Pesche’s workflow in the studio, particularly his new Technics SL-1200G turntable.

Photo of Abbey Road Studios lathe

“The records are cut on a lathe, which is the best vinyl equipment for playback and cutting, but at home, you don’t have it – it could be anything from Aunty Glad’s Dansette to the more basic turntable we have over the other side of the room,” Pesche explains. “I have to cut things that will play on this and that, so we need a domestic setup – but that is too far away from the quality I need, so I needed a better turntable. Now we have something here that is genuinely almost as good as the lathe in the new Technics SL-1200G.”

Photo of  Abbey Road Studios senior masteringengineer Geoff Pesche talking about alathe

So the process is: play the test pressings on the lathe, then play them on the Technics SL-1200G turntable, then on the cheaper turntable; and if that sounds good, you’re in the right ball park?

“Exactly. Then I’ll take it home, and play it on my own Technics turntable – which I got for my 21st birthday, and it’s still working perfectly 36 years later! So that is the chain of checking.”  

Geoff Pesche on a great record player

So what makes a great record player?

“First and foremost, it's all about a stable platter. You have a moving mass that’s very rigid, and that’s so important. It’s the aluminium brass topped platter that gives the SL-1200G deck its heavy weight,” Pesche explains. “Secondly, it needs to have great connectors, which the SL-1200G does. This turntable also has a completely new motor mechanism, so there’s no round flutter or rumble. If it was pony, I would say it’s pony, believe me! And it’s built like the older Technics turntables were: totally rock solid. It also has a great arm, which is crucial. So it’s all those things, really.

Photo of Techcnics SL-1200G turntable close up

“When you put the needle on a record, there should be no laterals, and this hardly moves, so Technics got the arm spot on. A turntable has to be able to play the record, and give a fair representation back to the amp. It mustn’t colour things. So ultimately, the SL-1200G is a great reference turntable; and it’s now very well used.”  

Photo of Techcnics SL-1200G turntable arm

As the way we consume music has evolved, so has the approach to mastering. Much of Pesche's work at Abbey Road today is for unsigned artists, who utilise the studio's online mastering service, where they send in an audio file, Pesche masters it, and sends it back. He summarises the process nicely:

“It’s so subjective, mastering. I might send a file back to an artist, and he or she might say, ‘but you’ve taken all the bass off!’ And then we’re having a fight about it. But the reason is, if you play something on a streaming box, or a phone, or anything small, if there's too much low end, it will saturate everything. So taking the low end away, I’ve opened the curtains – I’m adding clarity. I might not need to add any top, as sometimes it’s just subtraction. I always master as loud as I think the particular genre I'm working with should be, and then I cross my fingers! It’s better to have a reasonably loud undistorted master than a crushed very loud one.”