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Valve Studios - waves... not digits

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Waves not Digits

Now that we are living in the 21st century, the majority of new music we are listening to is recorded and delivered as a stream of digital data onto mp3 players or as ring-tones on mobile phones. The problem for a lot of musicians and listeners is that they feel that something is missing. Digitally recorded music lacks soul. It becomes part of the hi-tech environment, serving as a background to our modern daily life, like aural wallpaper. There are many music lovers today who miss the warmth and spontaneity associated with traditional analogue recordings. They yearn for a simpler time when you placed a piece of vinyl on the turntable, turned off the distractions of the outside world and let the ambience of the music wash over you in analogue waves. Luckily for them, all is not lost.

Valve Studios

Valve Studios (located in the hills of West Yorkshire) are owned and operated by singer/songwriter and producer Des Horsfall together with his assistant alter-ego Stan ‘Bones’ Black. Des has over 20 years experience as a performer and recording artist. His knowledge of the music business plays a vital part in getting the most out of the studio equipment and the musicians who record there.

The secret of Valve is capturing the performance at source using the natural acoustics of the environment. Forget ‘Fix it in the mix’. The aim is ‘To get it right on the night’ without resort to digital trickery. Analogue is the key, recording a hot performance to tape using the Studer A80, Lyrec TR532 or Tascam MS 16 recorder hooked up to the legendary Series 65 Trident mixing console. What could be better?

A tremendous live sound

Two major factors play a part in Valve's success. One, getting a tremendous live sound and two, everyone has fun doing it. Isn’t that what all musicians want when they are creating their next magnum opus? Just ask Jack White of The White Stripes or Tom Waits. Valve has the same attitude to making music that they do. All the classic albums including Rumours, Sergeant Pepper, Born To Run and Exile On Main Street were created in this fashion and they have never been bettered.

Valve Studio intentionally mimics the feel of a small intimate venue. The acoustic treatment is provided by natural timber, rugs and drapes; not the usual ocean of dull grey acoustic foam.

Let them eat cake

All the musicians who visit Valve enjoy a warm and friendly atmosphere helping them to feel relaxed and ready to play their best. Unlimited tea and coffee (along with Mrs Horsfall’s legendary home-made cake) are provided. Unlike most modern digital facilities, Valve Studios offer their clients a natural performing environment where everyone feels comfortable. In addition to this, the parent company (Outback Music) can supply a top quality design and production service to turn completed master tapes into finished vinyl or compact disc packages.

At Valve real time performances are all recorded to tape and ‘WAVES NOT DIGITS’ is the policy.

Equipment List

Mixing Consoles

  • Legendary Trident Series 65 36 Input
  • Allen and Heath PA 20 CP *Valve Mobile


  • Tascam MS 16 1″ 16 track with DBX NR and auto locator
  • Fostex B16 1/2″ 16 track with DBX NR and remote *Valve Mobile
  • Lyrec TR 532 2″ 16 track with auto locator (undergoing restoration)
  • Studer A80 1″ 8 track (undergoing restoration)


  • Studer A80 RC with meterbridge 1/4″ half track
  • Apple G4 Powermac DP 867 running Pro tools 6.7/Mbox with 19″ and 17″ monitors


  • EMT mono valve plate reverb (undergoing restoration)
  • Spring reverb
  • Analogue delay
  • Various rack gear inc Lexicon,Drawmer, DBX, Joe Meek etc
  • Various microphones inc. Neumann /Gefell, STC, Oktava, AKG etc
  • Anything else can be hired in

Instruments/Amps Etc

  • Hammond T102 drawbar organ
  • Selmer T&B head
  • 1967 Fender Telecaster
  • Paul Hathway mandolin
  • 1967 Baldwin-Burns bass
  • Wienbrock guitar rig
  • 80s Sunn Mustang Precision Bass
  • Blueridge BG140 acoustic
  • 1972 Gretsch Sho Bro resonator guitar
  • Assorted Percussion

Studio tour with Stan Black