photography by Wendy D.
Orchid Studios is a place of Music. The studio itself imparts something of an old school vibe. We aren’t exactly purists, but we do put emphasis on performances. Our R & D department has determined that focusing energies on songwriting, arrangement, and performance yields better results than does heavy DAW editing. Approaching recording in this way can take less studio time, make you a better musician, and reward you with a greater sense of accomplishment than a Photoshop’d Family Album.
We applaud & employ the creative use of digital advances in a supporting role to empower art. But prefer our collection of guitars, organs, electric pianos, and tube amplifiers to software synths and modeling amps. Alright… maybe we are purists…
There are artists, producers and engineers to whom vintage gear is very important. If you are among those afflicted with this belief, Orchid Studios will not disappoint. If you have yet to hear your music recorded through a classic console, brace yourself…
But before we miss the point entirely by focusing on the camera itself, rather than what’s in the viewfinder… perhaps some balance and inspiration could be found here.
If you still feel GEAR is the most important factor when assessing a studio, read on…
Vintage 1976 Ward Beck Systems 2042 (20 channels)
Vintage 1975 Ward Beck Systems 1204 sidecar (12 channels)
Soundcraft GB2R (remote rig)
Outboard Mic Pre’s
Original API 312 from Sunset Sound Studio B’s Demedio Console (a piece of audio history!)
Ampex 351 Tube Microphone Preamp
RCA 4-1 Tube Microphone Mixer (direct outs added by Dave Thomas)
2 x WBS 460 Modules
2 x Yamaha PM1000
SSL buss compressor from 5000 series console. (racked & powered by Recycled Audio)
Summit TLA-100A (original issue)
(2) Eseco Limpander (rare ‘60s speech compressor)
(3) 1960’s CBS Labs Volumax
(6) WBS 466 compressor / limiters
(5) DBX 903 compressors
(2) DBX 902 de-essers
DBX 166 (vintage unit with op-amp upgrade)
(2) DBX 163 (original)
(2) DBX 163x (original issue)
Reverb / Delay
Echolette S-2 Tube Tape Echo (rare 60’s unit from West Germany)
Roland 201 Space Echo Tape Delay
Orban 111b Spring Reverb
(2) Roland SDE -1000
(2) Korg A3
Memory Lane 2 Analog Delay
Oktava ML16 (“Boris” – soviet copy of RCA 77 circa 1966)
Sennheiser 421 (late 60’s/70s)
(2) Electrovoice Re-55
(2) Shure SM57
Advanced Audio Microphones D-20 (EV RE-20 clone)
Audio Technica ATM25
Audio Technica MB 6k
Altec 21br Tube Lipstick Mic (circa 50’s)
Altec 21D (circa 50’s)
(2) Altec 28A
Advanced Audio Microphones 414 (AKG 414 clone)
Advanced Audio Microphones tube pencil condenser
NTEC 5600 (U67 inspired)
Acoustic Guitars, Basses, etc
1964 Epiphone Cortez
1952 Harmony Sovereign
(2) 1960’s Eko Ranger Electro 12
1968 Fender Palamino
1966 Harmony Sovereign
1965 Framus Parlour Guitar
1971 Harmony Sovereign
1960’s Harmony Baritone Ukulele
1960’s Yamaha Red Label
El Kabong (circa 1900 Mexican handmade guitar)
1960’s Harptone Acoustic Bass Guitar
Harmony 5 string Banjo
Electric Guitars, Basses, etc
1970’s Ventura Les Paul Copy
1978 Les Paul Custom
1989 Rickenbacker 330
1968 Yamaha electric 12
Fender Jaguar re-issue (circa 90’s)
Hagstrom Viking (60’s)
1967 Fender Coronado Bass II
1968 Fender Coronado Bass (modified with Gibson pickup)
Garnet Jazz Bass
Fender 62 reissue Jazz Bass (90’s)
Late 60’s Vox VG4 Semi-Hollow Bass
Vintage Amps & Cabs
1972 Ampeg B15 Portaflex
1966 Fender Dual Showman & 2×15 Cab
1973 Fender Super Reverb (Blackfaced)
Klempt Echolette M-40
Fender Deluxe (built by Franck Sala)
Marshall 18 watt Bluesbreaker (built by Franck Sala)
Garnet Pro 50
(2) Garnet 4×12 (marsland speakers)
Traynor Vocal PA head
1971 Univox 4×12
(2) Harmony H300
Northland Baffin Island
(2) Califone extension speakers
1979 Ampeg SVT & 6×10 cabinet
Cool & Useful Studio Tools
Trek II Leslie Combo Preamp Pedal
Weber Impedance Matcher
(4) Karma Audio 10-20 db pads
Ward Beck Distribution Amp
Ampex MM1200 8 track 1” tape machine (pls inquire in advance if your project wants tape)
Pro Tools (Digi 001 /Aleisis Ai-3 / Apogee Big Ben)
Aleisis HD24 (remote rig)
We offer a variety of services at Orchid Studios, and generally do these things pretty well. There are also things we don’t excel at and if your project is not a good match for our expertise, we’ll be honest about that and direct you to someone suitable.
Producer / Arranger
It all starts with the song. And if it doesn’t start with the song, it doesn’t end well. Computers cannot make good songs sound great. A vintage microphone with incredible Mojo cannot make a good song sound any better than good. A great song, conversely, makes any microphone more exciting! We can boast exceptional songwriting / arranging talent at Orchid Studios. A Producer with this level of expertise, can help transform a song from good to great, and bring your vision into sharper focus. It’s nice to know someone’s got your back.
Orchid Studios’ goal was to be the “Mushroom of Overdub Rooms” (an homage to a now defunct classic West Coast studio which once housed a tremendous collection of classic gear). We can’t capture the ambiance of a 30 foot ceiling, but we can compete with the major studios when it comes to Vocal, Guitar, Organ, & Piano overdubs. This is exactly what the facility was built for: the recording room treatment was designed by Steven Drake, and sounds great.
Orchid Studios houses The Orchid Highway’s impressive collection of vintage amplifiers, guitars, basses, organs & electric pianos, including perhaps the oldest working Hammond organ in Canada: a 1935 Hammond A, originally installed at the Orpheum Theatre.
Clients may use this gear at no additional cost. Want to record using a real Wurlitzer or 1966 Vox instead of a simulation? Want to record the drums and/or vocals for your project at a higher quality than you can get with a Zoom 16 track in your bedroom? Say… with a vintage Ludwig Kit, and a Microphone Preamp from a famous LA Studio’s recording console… Sure. You can do that. Book yourself a session.
Orchid Studios’ live room is cozy, but the studio is wired to allow for full band bedtracks. With a little creativity we’ve recorded up to a 7 piece band live off the floor, with some members setup in the control room, kitchen, and even bathroom, working off headphones. It was a blast, and worked surprisingly well. We’ve also had great success and good separation putting guitarists in the live room with the drummer. The setup limitations force creativity and often open interesting doors Low-watt amplifiers and re-amping techniques go a long way towards getting the most out of this sort of scenario. But it can lead to a great vibe, and a great sound!
When Orchid Studios current location was constructed in 2008, it was conceived as more of an overdub studio than a mixing facility. However, increasingly clients loved hearing the sound of their recordings through our console and wanted to mix here as well. ”Great idea!” we said with a knowing smile… ”This means we’ll need more vintage gear!” (the control room has since doubled in size).
Whether you recorded your tracks on an iphone, a laptop, at Abbey Road, or in your Madrid flat, we’d be honoured to make your songs sing.
One of the down sides of artists having greater access to recording equipment is that we have less opportunity to learn, in a hands on way, from the skilled musicians, writers, and engineers who blazed trails before us. The Artist -Producer relationship, when the chemistry is right, is a powerful enabler. The trust established and lessons learned continue long after. There are many — perhaps too many — options when setting out on foot towards making a record. While valuable resources exist (Gearslutz & similar forums come to mind) it helps to have someone who can advise you re: how to make the most of a recording budget, how you can economize without it being “heard”, give advice on signal chains, song structure, etc.
We’ve had some successes with this. A few years ago one of our studio clients organized an insane, covert operation, and turned a posh West Vancouver house-sitting gig into a brash raw, on location album! At the time, Orchid Studios was still under construction so tracking here wasn’t a possibility. And we didn’t yet have our remote rig. So we loaded racks and racks of sensitive studio gear into a Grumman and took off at 30 km per hour. It was a fantastic time, but the work and logistics involved were ridiculous. Thankfully… we allowed ourselves to be ridiculous. As some great memories, and a cool album came out of the experience.
We now have a remote rig with an HD24 and 16 channel Soundcraft GBR2, with direct outs for event or on location recording. The highly prized vintage audio gear stays home, but adds its flavor in post-production.
Daily rates as follows:
$250 for a 6 hour evening session (6pm-Midnight)
$300 for an 8 hour daytime session (10 am-6pm)
$400 for a 12 hour day. (10 am-10pm)
Day rates include engineer, and access to our vintage gear collection.
Reduced rates available for block booking.
If our studio sounds like your kind of place, speak to us on the talkback.
Orchid Studios is located at 1701 Powell Street, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.