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‘An extraordinary sonic experience’: Tape London’s new PMC monitors complete club refurbishment

Tara Lepore spoke to studio director Heff Moraes about why he built a recording studio within in a nightclub and how the studio’s PMC flagship upgrade is ‘funded by champagne’...

Where’s the best place to build a recording studio? A key factor is location, and London seems like a good place for a UK-based facility with an international outlook to get high-profile musicians through its doors. How about acoustics? Again, another vital component, and repeat custom requires a level of sound quality that’ll ensure your clients come back again and again. For the cool factor? Labels shouldn’t matter, but when you’re providing a high quality recording experience in a truly online age, you’ve got to have the visuals to match.

Would you ever build a studio within a nightclub? In 2015, Mayfair private members’ club Tape London did, ticking all the boxes for a great-sounding, Instagram-friendly studio in a perfect location. And as part of a recent refurbishment, the central London hotspot has fitted high-end PMC monitors inside both the studio and the club’s lounge.
It makes sense, really, when you consider the clientele. Tape attracts so many high-profile people in the music business on a regular basis that it’s really important they have an accurate listening environment inside. The club regularly hosts album launch parties and encourages its punters to host meetings there, too, with the option to use the recording studio in the daytime. The club is only open three nights a week, which means having a studio slap bang in the middle of the club is a financially sound decision too – although, studio manager Heff Moraes insists that the studio’s main revenue stream is “funded by champagne”. 

Since opening three years ago, Tape has established itself as one of London’s top hotspots, winning the Best Club at the London Bar and Club Awards and Best Late Venue at the London Lifestyle Awards in 2016 and 2017. Its central London setting means it’s a place that welcomes a wealth of rock and pop royalty to party in its basement until the early hours, from the likes of Will.I.Am, Justin Bieber, Mick Jagger and Rita Ora, plus Lady Gaga, Drake and Wiz Khalifa, who have all performed at the venue.
The venue now boasts the first pair of PMC’s QB1 XBD-A monitors in the UK, with PMC BB6 monitors installed in its 150-capacity exclusive members lounge.

In early 2018, the total refurbishment of Tape’s studio and club space was complete, with Munro Acoustics’ re-design featuring the high-end PMC monitors as the flagship upgrade. 

Moraes tells PSNEurope: “Clive [Glover, director] at Munro did such a fantastic job of designing the studio. We basically said what we want is for the monitors to feel like nearfields but perform like they do now, and he did such a great job of designing the room, that’s exactly the experience here. We do have small speakers in there but I very rarely need to use them because those PMCs are so accurate and they’re right on you, so you can hear every detail. I’ve been in this industry for a long time – it’s unlike any other studio I’ve ever worked in because of that, and the bass is extraordinary.”

So why did a facility that only opened in 2015 require such an extensive studio refurbishment? Munro Acoustics designed the previous studio, but didn’t fully oversee the build, as Moraes explains: “I’ve worked on many studio designs in my career and I can tell when a builder is trying to cut a corner. The builders that were contracted in to work on the refurb didn’t stick close enough to the designs, so, for the most recent refurbishment, Munro came in every couple of weeks to make sure the job was being done properly.”

He adds: “We did a complete refurbishment on the whole club, starting with the main lounge, which we extraordinarily did in 10 days with no sleep. The club is our revenue so it was our only option.”

But why the decision to install nearfield monitors in the club space? Moreas explains it was the suggestion of Dutch DJ Afrojack, who recommended PMC to Tape’s CEO on a visit to the studio one day. He took his word for it, and the planning process begun.
It’s certainly paying off, according to Moraes. “I had one of the biggest hip hop artists in America performing here and her manager came into the studio,” he said. “He was from LA, a big guy, full of bravado. I said to him, This is a club in London, in England, and these speakers are manufactured by an English company. They’ll smash anything you guys can do. We had some banter, and he said he still wasn’t convinced.
“So we sat down and had a listen, and within five seconds he looked up at me and said, Give me your number. 

“We’re thinking about installing a CCTV camera to catch people’s reactions when they first hear them,” Moreas adds. “I mean, it would be a really lovely thing to have a montage of all of the people and their first responses to it, because it really is an extraordinary sonic experience. It’s the best sounding room in the UK.”

He concludes: “I’ve worked with PMCs in the past but never found anyone with enough money to buy them. What’s different with this is that the room is being funded by the people buying champagne.”

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