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16 l August 2012 studionews FRANCE Making bacon in Brittany

The rural recording sector has another player in its ranks, reports Jim Evans

A FORMER farm building that was once home to 180 pigs is now offering a range of recording and associated production services in the Breton countryside in north- western France. Pig Shed Studios is owned and run by producer and professional musician James Hoffmeister who moved in 2003 from the UK to the medieval village of Moncontour where he produced recordings for local groups. Five years on, he moved to the

nearby village of Plémy where he has set up Pig Shed Studios – a completely new facility built inside a disused farm building, and insulated with 400 straw bales. The studio has recently added a second room which doubles as a live venue and recreation room for recording artists. “The priority for me here is to provide great ambiance and atmosphere that will get the best

out of any visiting recording artists,” says Hoffmeister who taught music technology at the University of Portsmouth before crossing the channel. “When we first moved over

The studio is insulated with 400 straw bales

here, I set up a small studio in a spare room in our house. Eventually, noise and space problems prompted us to find a suitable place in the countryside nearby where we would have more space and no close neighbours to worry about. We then spent a year building the new studio which has been fully functional for nearly two years now.” Hoffmeister continues: “I

wanted to create a studio with a warm friendly atmosphere in a peaceful environment. The studio is constructed in a disused pig shed which 10 years ago had 180 pigs in it. It was a large space and the studio is built in the ‘room within a room’ principal. All the walls are built using wooden stud and straw bales – straw bales are fantastic acoustically, provide brilliant insulation and most importantly they are cheap. “The walls were lined and

“A relaxed and pleasant environment for creativity”

plastered using lime, hemp and sand. The acoustics in the live

room needed a bit of treatment but the finished result is a great live, not too roomy, sound; exactly what I wanted for a live room. I had to build a couple of bass traps, using acoustic foam MDF drilled out and sheep’s wool. The floor is insulated with 100s of empty glass bottles.” Additionally, Hoffmeister

built a vocal/drum room with oak floors and acoustic tiles on the ceiling and walls. This room is used for vocals, voice over and “a drier drum sound”. The control room has a sloping ceiling, raised sections in the middle and the back wall is lined with fabric over the straw bales, so there is virtually no reflection coming back. The view from the window is of the calm, pretty Breton countryside – fields, cows and nature. “The setting creates a relaxed and pleasant environment for creativity,” adds Hoffmeister. The heart of the studio is an old Allen & Heath Saber 32, originally at radio station Power FM in Portsmouth. “I bought it from Bob Bruce at Soundcheck. Recording is done on PC using Cubase – I have used Cubase since the Atari ST days and I am too old to change. Monitoring is via Tannoy Reveal 8Ds – the client pleasers – and a pair of NS10s. I also love my old Pro One synth and sometimes make use of the 1876 Grand piano.”n


Number of pigs who used to call the studio home

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