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Smart Research

 Originally formed by Alan Smart for the development of high performance audio equipment. He has worked in the professional audio industry for some 20 years since starting as an assistant engineer in Wave Studios in London, and then as an electronics engineer at Digital Audio Systems, who provided Sony PCM mastering systems to UK studios; manufactured Weber test tapes, and restored and extended several Neve consoles and other equipment. Engineering at SSL's 'Huge' studios in Oxford led to a position as commissioning and service engineer for SSL. His first assignment abroad was to commission George Benson's SSL at Lahaina Sound in Hawaii, after which he went on to either service or commission many of the rapidly expanding collection of SSL Studios such as Virgin's Townhouse 1 and 2; Sarm West; Wessex; Abbey Road; Air Studios and others. Experience with broadcast studios came at the UK's BBC, Denmark Radio, and Japan's NHK, and travel for SSL included visiting Holland, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the West Indies and the USA. This period involved solving the problems at each new installation, as SSL moved to from around 25 console sales, to become a world standard .

Alan left SSL to become chief engineer at Eddy Grant's Blue Wave Studios in Barbados, where he engineered an album; singles and film music for Eddy Grant, working with two Otari MTR90's and a Synclavier system. He took care of maintenance and ran the studio for projects such as Sting's first solo project 'Dream of the Blue Turtles'; and expanded the studio's facilities to allow for video sync and midi distribution. During this time many artists visited Blue Wave including the Thompson Twins, Bryan Ferry, Jon Anderson, and Mick Jagger.

Returning to the UK in 1984, freelance projects included work for many artists and studios. After engineering various projects for Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney, and others (such as Joni Mitchell's 'Chalk Marks in a Rainstorm') at Peter Gabriel's earlier studio, Ashcombe; he then became involved in the planning and construction of Real World Studios. This involved 3 Studios, and numerous custom electronic projects; such as modifying the main control room SSL to allow status changing and metering in groups of 8 modules; and 64 split group outputs. Alan also designed the 'ASM' system for Real World, increasing the SSL's capacity from 5 to 9 automated cue sends per module. (This system was later sold to several studios, Rhinoceros in Sydney amongst others). While working with Real World, Alan designed and travelled with Gabriel's 'So' world tour stage system, and more recently the 'Secret World' tour. The latter involved the establishment of two complete music equipment systems, linked with custom built midi-automated switching and level control, multicores, line drivers, and used some 35 radio frequencies, and also involved extensive live recording of both midi and audio; an offshoot of the tour which he followed through to help in post production and mixing at Guillaume Tell in Paris.

The challenges of spending years involved with touring have otherwise proven avoidable; with the exception of Tears for Fear's 'Seeds of Love' tour, for which he designed and built 48 channels of preamplifiers/splitters to allow the isolation and on-line fault finding of all audio from the stage; as well as a stage radio foldback system for the two principles, at a time when commercially available systems were tested and found too unreliable to use.

Complete studio designs have included a 56 channel SSL/ 96 tape track capable mitsubushi equipped facility, Neptune's Kitchen, for private use; studios for Jamiroquai and others, and custom electronic solutions for projects such as Virgin's 144 microphone input Manor Mobile; the Manor Studios, Matrix's Maison Rouge mix room facility and many others. In 1987, The Engine Room began business custom building Studio equipment, and since then has established a client list we hope will be enhanced by its evolution into Smart Research into the future.

Currently Smart Research have facilities in England and Australia. 


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