49-53 Kensington Gardens Square in 2006 [32 KB]
49-53 Kensington Gardens Square in 2006

"After scoring four films at CTS, I feel qualified to highly recommend the facilities. They combine the commercial recording sound with the requisites of film scoring - a great combination not too often found." -- Henry Mancini circa 1969.

Cine-Tele Sound Studios Ltd was originally located at 49-53 Kensington Gardens Square in London's fashionable Bayswater district.

Inaugurated in 1956 by a consortium that included Johnny Johnston, Peter Kay and John Elliott, CTS offered music recording using modern technology in a convenient location.

The primary music studio was housed in a converted banqueting hall previously owned by the Whiteley's Gentleman's Dining Club. With an ornate moulded ceiling, the venue had also doubled as a parade room to show off the latest fashions from Europe. The internal dimensions of this studio were 40 feet across, 85 feet deep and 26 feet high. The room had a natural reverberation of 0.8 seconds and seated about 65 musicians.

Peter Kay was the managing director since incorporation of the company and was later succeeded by technical manager John Elliott. Eric Tomlinson joined the studio in 1959 and was the chief recording engineer.

John Richards joined in 1962 after technical training at Granville Television Studios. Initially working as a tape operator, editor and assistant to Eric Tomlinson, Richards earned himself a balance engineer role in 1966 following his mentor's departure to commercialise the Denham scoring stage. Finding his feet with TV work, Richards remembers The Quiller Memorandum as the first film that he recorded for frequent client, John Barry, in October 1966.

Jack Clegg (born John Philip Clegg) joined CTS in 1963 having previously worked at Decca for three years and initially at the International Broadcasting Company (IBC) studios with Tomlinson, Joe Meek and Keith Grant. It was Clegg who recorded one of the most revered audiophile soundtrack albums: Casino Royale for Burt Bacharach in 1967. John Richards was Clegg's tape operator for the sessions. The titular tune was performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass with Alpert adding his trumpet part at A&M Studios in Los Angeles. By mid-1970 Clegg departed CTS to work at George Martin's newly opened AIR studios. "It's not so much what you've got, as what you do with it," said Clegg of audio. 1

Paul Carr joined the team in 1969 and mainly worked as a re-recording engineer in the dubbing suite. Carr left CTS after three years and was appointed Head of Sound at Roger Cherrill's where he continued his successful career. Peter Harris was the chief maintenance engineer and Sydney Davies the chief projectionist. Elaine Dyer was the bookings manager and Peter Wilson the sound camera operator.

By the end of the 1960s, CTS had successfully recorded music for many English and visiting American composers including: John Barry; Ron Goodwin; Frank Cordell; Henry Mancini; and Burt Bacharach. John Barry proved to be a prominent client during this period with scores for most of his projects, including the James Bond series. Recording artists including: Frank Sinatra; Sammy Davis Jr; and Shirley Bassey added to its reputation as a world-premiere facility.

The control room was approximately 30 feet by 20 feet in size. The 12 input grey Telefunken console had, initially, one speaker placed above it until stereo came in and two large speakers adorned the wall. The console had three sets of EQ on rotary potentiometers. Outputs could be grouped to left, centre, right or "spare". Agfa tape was the stock of choice and Philips tape machines captured audio signals.

In the bustling days of the early 1960s perhaps as much as 90% of film work was recorded direct to mono or three-track in groupings that would permit rebalance during dubbing. The three-track recordings were generally aggregated as follows: strings, woodwinds and harp on track 1; rhythm, percussion and keyboards on track 2; brass and horns on track 3.

Information from circa 1964 lists the following equipment:

Music Studio Equipment
12 way mixing console with EQ, limiting and echo
Neumann and AKG microphones
Tape Recording Equipment
Stereo three-track and two-track
7, 15 and 30 IPS on Philips tape machines
Film Recording Equipment
35mm magnetic RCA triple and single track
35mm optical RCA channel
Provision for 10 tracks
2 x Westar projectors with clover-leaf facilities

A pricing schedule dated circa 1964 lists the following rates:

Engineering Activity Chargeable Rate
Mono recording 14 per hour
Two-track recording 18 per hour
Three-track recording 22 per hour
Editing 6 per hour
Editing with console 14 per hour
Tape to tape recording 5 per hour
Playback 3 per hour
Tape and film transfer
(Magnetic or optical)
10 per hour
3" and 5" spools 5/- each
7" spools 7/6 each

CTS operated from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday.

Henry Mancini created one of his most affecting melodies for 1967's Two for the Road, which starred Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. John Richards recorded the score with Stephane Grappelli performing violin solos. Unfortunately, the film version of the music remains unreleased as Mancini re-recorded the score for album in the US with altered orchestrations.

By 1968, CTS had successfully recorded many films and artists. Equipment had been steadily augmented and the mixing console upgraded to 17 channels. Other changes are reflected in the table below:

Music Studio Equipment
3 x EMT echo plates
Tape Recording Equipment
Mono or multi-track
7, 15 and 30 IPS
Philips and Ampex tape machines
Film Recording Equipment
35mm magnetic RCA quad, triple and single track

The corresponding pricing schedule listed updated rates as follows:

Engineering Activity Chargeable Rate
Mono recording 16 per hour
Two-track recording 20 per hour
Multi-track recording 24 per hour
Mono or multi-track film 16 per hour
Plus a 7 per hour labour charge
Playback 5 per hour
Reduction for album 16 per hour
Tape and film transfer 10 per hour

Whilst the first custom-made Neve console went to Anvil in Denham, CTS had taken delivery of their 26 input Neve in 1969. By this time recording was nominally offered in 8-track 1" format to Ampex machines.

Dick Lewzey joined the team 1970. Following a career at the BBC, Lewzey recalled that on the day of his job interview Leslie Bricusse was scoring his Scrooge musical.

Technological progress was rapid and by June 1972, 16-track recording was offered and the mixing console suitably upgraded. It was in the last quarter of 1972 that CTS faced a dilemma. The beginnings of the property boom led two young entrepreneurs to purchase the Bayswater site with intentions of repurposing it. Peter Harris, the then studio manager, and CTS staff members weighed up their options. One thought was to finance and build a new studio however it was estimated that at least 18 months would be required before an environment was suitably configured and new equipment installed.

Jacques De Lane Lea's company rented the famous Kingsway Hall, a venue celebrated for producing many high quality recordings including those conducted by Charles Gerhardt and engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson. At some point in the late 1960s De Lane Lea were forced to relinquish the hall and consequently sought new premises for music recording.

Engineers Way at Wembley in 2006 [24 KB]
Engineers Way at Wembley in 2006

Land was acquired adjacent to Wembley Stadium and a new studio complex purpose built, opening in 1971. The building, located on Engineers Way (HA9 ODR), housed three studios of decreasing size. Studio 1 had a high ceiling and could accommodate approximately 80 players. Internal dimensions were 56 feet across, 80 feet deep with a 30 foot ceiling. An isolation booth was located at one end of the studio and to its side was a small vocal booth. Studio 2 could accommodate about 35 and Studio 3 around 20.

Technical manager and studio director, Dave Siddle, conceived a workspace utilising custom technology and the latest design concepts. Despite the smell of fresh red paint on the diffuser panels still permeating the air, and a stack of new untried technology, De Lane Lea Wembley seldom received significant business.

And so a fortuitous negotiation was made between CTS Studios Ltd and De Lane Lea Music Ltd. Consequently, CTS relocated to Wembley in late 1972 and commenced trading as The Music Centre. It was clear that, whilst De Lane Lea had studio space and equipment, the company had little reputation for film work.

The three studios, in particular Studio 1, exhibited a markedly different acoustic from Bayswater. The design created a space that did not breathe as carpeted floors together with extensive baffles and absorbent surfaces deadened the sound. The control room was located 22 steps above the studio -- the projection booth to one side. This design meant that engineers would view the projection screen out of their window rather than musicians. In order to see the orchestra, a remote Sony camera was installed and operated from controls adjacent to the mixing console. The computerised console was custom made by Sound Techniques, the tape machines by Scully and monitoring was through Lockwood-Tannoy speakers. The microphone cabinet contained AKG and Neumann makes. Dave Siddle's vision also involved a patch-less control room 20 years prior to the time when such a means would become reality.

John Richards and his colleague, engineer Dick Lewzey, grappled with the suffocating acoustic and futuristic equipment. Management was eventually persuaded to invest in new Neve console and Studer tape decks to alleviate the burden.

The sound emanating from CTS aka The Music Centre, once appropriate equipment had been installed, became well recognised during the 1970s however it had only come about through necessity. Whereas violins at the Bayswater venue may have demanded two mikes, at a distance whereby section bloom was appropriately captured, Wembley necessitated a considerably greater mike count and exceptionally close placement.

This miking technique rapidly utilised every input in the mixing console of the day requiring doubling and tripling feeds to inputs. And as close miking often radically alters the timbre of instruments, equalisation and extensive artificial reverberation were tools used to create a more appealing sound with a sense of space. The trademark CTS Wembley slap-back echo was created by an array of EMT echo plates coupled with a delay -- of around 167 ms -- achieved via the physical gap between the record and reproduce heads on spare analog machines running at 15 IPS.

By the mid 1970s, CTS was equipped with 16-track Dolby A recording facilities and a (now classic) Neve 8038 console with 1073 EQ modules. 24-track analog recording was introduced sometime in late 1977.

By the end of 1980, Swedish-based Marcus Music had reconstructed the Bayswater site. Equipped with the latest Harrison computerised mixing console and Studer analog tape machines, the reinvigorated facility boasted 24 hour operation. Marcus Music focussed on TV rather than film work with a preference for recording popular artists such as Leo Sayer and Gary Numan. The Bayswater site was later redeveloped and is now a fashionable block of flats.

It was in 1984 that Richards accepted an offer to work for Evergreen Recording Studios in Burbank, California. Evergreen sought an experienced engineer to record film music and build their client base. At the time John Richards departed for the USA in May 1984, the acoustic at Wembley was undergoing modification. The carpet was being torn up and parquet flooring laid down. By March 1985 the revamped studio was running a Neve DSP console and a Sony 3324 multi-track digital recorder as part of $700,000 control room renovations.

Dick Lewzey immediately assumed the senior recording engineer role following Richards' farewell and achieved significant success with the new acoustic, creating a sound that was live and transparent. Lewzey made some excellent recordings during the late 1980s including The Mission and The Living Daylights.

Veteran engineer and producer Adrian Kerridge owned Lansdowne Studios and acquired CTS Wembley in 1987. However on 24 June 2000 the complex closed having been sold by Kerridge to make way for the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium and its surrounding area. In the days prior to closure, equipment -- including the Neve 72-channel VRP console -- was auctioned. At the time Kerridge made the following comments. "It is with sadness that we have been forced to move from our site, which we have occupied since 1972. We have been left with no choice but to close the studios. There is no way that we can continue recording once the building work commences, so we are taking positive action now."

The CTS team, including engineer Dick Lewzey, relocated to the Watford Colosseum in 2000 and shortly thereafter Lewzey went freelance. Phoenix Sound briefly reactivated the Wembley site in 2002 however it was finally demolished in mid 2004.

Thank you to John Richards and Eric Tomlinson for their contributions.

You may also enjoy reading: Anvil of Denham - A Brief Musical History and Recording Engineer Eric Tomlinson (Adobe PDF [1 KB] PDF 1.20 MB).

References and Footnotes
  1. "Making Your Own Audio Package." Teaching & Learning: Instruction-Audio Conference. 1999. 24 Jan 2007