Posted tagged ‘CTS Studios’


April 28, 2011

Nashville Radio’s Joe Rieg Interviews TCM’s Ted Carfrae

Whilst on a recent business trip to Nashville, TCM’s Ted Carfrae was invited to speak with Joe Rieg on JJK’s Nashville Radio.

Ted recounted his early days in the music business in London, his time in Los Angeles and his production successes.

You can listen to the interview below.

If you’d like more information about the mixing and mastering packages mentioned in the interview, contact Ted or CJ for details.



March 25, 2011

Good Mentors Are Worth Their Weight In Gold

I’ve been Mastering music in all its wonderful forms and variety for many years now. But I initially came to Mastering by chance rather than design.

Ted Carfrae at TCM Mastering writes…

About a year into my training as a young sound engineer at the legendary CTS Studios in Wembley North London, I was asked if I would be interested in learning about mastering. Fascinated by the process, though not really understanding what it was, I agreed and spent six months under the guidance of our in-house mastering engineer Kevin Metcalf. I had no idea at the time that this training was going to lead me to a whole new career so many years later.

Kevin’s cutting room was fantastic. As you went in the door there was a small desk set in the middle of the room facing a massive pair of speakers (Tannoys I think). The desk was purpose built with eq’s and compressors built-in and there were two Studer 1/4″ 2 track tape recorders next to the desk.

Modern Neumann Cutting Lathe

There was a great long window letting in loads of natural light and under the window was the massive Neumann cutting lathe. This was an amazing piece of kit. Essentially, it was a record turntable, very finely balanced with a precision cutting head that was treated with the utmost care because it was so fragile and it was this cutting head that would actually cut the groove into the blank disc. The blank discs are called acetates and I remember that they were very heavy with the most distinctive smell to them and they still use the same acetate discs to this day.

Kevin was a very patient teacher and together we cut virtually every kind of music you can think of, most of which was recorded in one of our four recording studios… soundtracks, pop music of course, but we also specialised in cutting the most authentic reggae music ever. Kevin had a client who used to send the original master tapes from Jamaica where they were recorded and produced so this music was the real deal, made by the top reggae artists of the day.

Of course it was all tape in those days, no digital technology and I remember that these tapes used to arrive through the post encased in polystyrene cases. The master tapes were loose cakes of tape in a box and my first job was to very carefully transfer the tape from these boxes onto metal spools so that we could mount them on our tape machines and play them.

Kevin was a master at his craft and I am so lucky to have learned from him and many years later when I started producing records myself, it was Kevin who did all my mastering for me. He is still a good friend to this day and someone who I admire and respect a great deal so I would like to take this opportunity to thank the legendary Kevin Metcalf for giving that young lad the chance of a lifetime, it literally changed my life.

At TCM Mastering we take pride in providing a professional, fast and affordable service to musicians of all genres. So if you’re looking to get a record deal or simply releasing your own material on CD, why not contact us for more information to see how we can help you put that final polish on your tracks.


February 18, 2011

TCM’s Ted Carfrae recounts a very personal story – an example of professionalism.

…..The recent passing of iconic film director Blake Edwards was very sad for me because it has prompted some wonderful personal memories of when I was lucky enough to work with the great man.

I was about 22 years of age when I last worked with him in 1981 when I was an assistant engineer/tape operator at CTS Studios (The Music Centre) in Wembley, North London.

During my tenure at CTS, I worked on lots of film soundtrack recordings, sometimes two or three a week. I was lucky enough to work on three soundtracks with Blake – 10, S.O.B. and Victor Victoria. All films starring his wife, the amazing Julie Andrews.

I say amazing because without doubt, she is the single most talented artist I have ever worked with and watching her work taught me a lot of what I know now about being professional.

She was always well prepared, she was always fun to be around, always serious about her craft and always nailed her vocal in one take, that’s how great she was/is.

The particular day that stands out for me is the day we recorded the music for Victor Victoria. It was a hectic day in early April and I was at the studio at about 8am setting up the studio for my first session in Studio 2 which was recording the demo song for the Bond Film ‘For Your Eyes Only’.

The song was sung by a young Sheena Easton who had had a few big hits and she had just conquered America with her ‘Morning Train’ hit single.

The session was produced by Christopher Neil and we actually recorded two different versions of the song, both written by Mick Leeson and film composer Bill Conti. The demo of the song was very different from the final version, different words, very different production, taking much inspiration from Ultravox’s recent hit, ‘Vienna’.

Sheena had a cold and asked me to run to the shop and get her a packet of ‘Tunes’. When I got back, she was in the studio alone while the guys were in the control room piecing together the arrangements etc. I just sat with Sheena in the studio chatting about her career, how well it was going etc, it was great because we were about the same age and had a real laugh together messing about until we were both called into the control room to begin the session, it was a magical moment for me and really peaceful I remember.

What’s even nicer is that when I met her again in 2001 in Las Vegas, she remembered me straight away.

Anyway back to the story…later after the session finished, Sheena and I were walking up the stairs to the bar/cafeteria to get a coffee or something when we both stopped in our tracks as this gold Rolls Royce stopped outside and Julie Andrews emerged in a full length fox fur coat, looking every part the film superstar she is. I was working on her session as well so I ran to the bar, grabbed a tea and KitKat, said goodbye to Sheena and ran down to Studio 1 where incidentally I had been until 3am that morning setting up the studio for the expected 80 musicians.

I pushed open the door of the control room and the place was packed. There was sound engineer John Richards (my boss), record producer Tony Adams, Blake Edwards, Julie Andrews and the great composer Henry Mancini, as well as several people from the film company so it was busy in there.

It was magical because later we were joined by the films two other stars James Garner and Robert Preston.

Julie was dressed in a white tee-shirt and jeans and she looked incredible, flawless, truly a beautiful woman.

Henry Mancini went downstairs to the studio and started rehearsing with the massive orchestra while John and I got the sounds together. I would run up and down the stairs to the studio to make slight changes with John and when everything was ready to go, Julie was then asked to go down to the vocal booth. I went with her to check the height and position of the microphone, John by then trusted me with mic placement, though just before we started recording, he would usually go down and visually check everything personally.

Henry called the orchestra to attention, the red light went on as I hit record and we were off. Julie was very impressive indeed because she recorded each song in just one take, live with an 80 piece orchestra, now that’s real pressure I can tell you and by the end of the three hour session, Julie had recorded all of her songs perfectly, she then kissed us all goodbye and left with Blake, James and Robert for Shepperton Studios to begin filming.

The control room emptied out and John, Henri and I continued recording the rest of the music well into the evening finishing at about 10pm.

I have been so fortunate in my life to have had some truly memorable and unique experiences and though I was seriously into rock music at the time, Julie Andrews and Sheena Easton still remain at the top of my list of truly great artists because they both taught me about professionalism, preparation and perfection.


January 12, 2011

I’ve been in the Music Business in one form or another for over 30 years and feel really fortunate to have been in an industry that was so much fun whilst being paid too.

When I started out in the music industry back in 1978, I was thrown into the most exciting world of music I could ever have imagined. CTS studios where I worked had four studios – Studio 1 where we recorded 80 piece orchestras for film soundtrack albums, Studio 2 where we recorded music for television, Studio 3 which was the Rock studio and then Studio 4 which was a small project studio.

CTS also had one of the top mastering/cutting rooms in London so I was surrounded by the best in the business. I worked 18 hour days regularly, seven days a week most weeks and I loved every second of it. I was a sponge, soaking up whatever the studio could throw at me and after a while I began to take it all in my stride but when I think back now, I was so incredibly lucky.

The Early Days – Ted Carfrae

I remember that in one day I worked on the For Your Eyes Only demo with Sheena Easton, Victor Victoria soundtrack with Julie Andrews in the afternoon and something with the great Ella Fitzgerald that she was re-recording for television in the evening. That was just one day – how lucky was I.

I was surrounded and influenced by so many great people and I have to thank them all for everything I know about making music.

The one aspect of music making that I have never lost is recording live in the studio. Almost without exception, every record I have ever produced was made this way for several reasons. For me a great record is all about capturing a great performance and in that respect especially with vocalists, I am a slave driver but more of that in my next blog.

There is nothing better than getting into the studio with the best session musicians you can muster with everyone playing together as a band. Nowadays with modern work station such as Pro Tools which I love by the way, producers and musicians pretty much overdub everything in layers and cut and paste these layers to create perfection.

Live recording is not about perfection it is about capturing musical magic. I have so many great memories of recording this way. It’s immediate and it’s spontaneous and always unexpected.

Recently, I went to Nashville to record four songs with my partner CJ Boggs at our new studio facility, it was to try out one of our recording packages, more details at TCMMusicgroup. CJ and I assembled a basic rhythm section of the best guys in town and we cut and finished 4 songs in a single day. It was such a joy, and generally after a couple of takes and we had it in the can.

Whenever you get the chance, try recording this way, it is truly liberating and you never know, you too may create a classic record.