All about our founder, David Richardson
David Richardson, the owner of SRT was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, he is an English music producer, audio engineer and musician. In 1968 he founded Sky Studios with rock band Jethro Tull, the studio later became leading facilities house, Sound Recording Technology (SRT).
David learned piano from the age of four and developed a passion for electronics and sound recording. By his teens, he was already recording top Jazz artists of the day; this included names such as, Kathy Stobart and Ian Carr. As a young producer he had production contracts with major labels that included CBS (now Sony Music) and George Martin's Air label, distributed by EMI.
The original SRT Studios were based in Guildford Street, Luton, where bands such as McGregor's Engine recorded. It was this band, with local guitarist Mick Abrahams, drummer Clive Bunker and bassist Andy Pyle that formed the foundation of Jethro Tull, which with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Ian Anderson, went on to sell over 60 million albums. Andy Pyle featured on many early SRT recordings and later became a member of Wishbone Ash.
In the mid-1980s, to serve the company's own label and other clients, he started a record factory in St Ives, Cambridgeshire with business partner George Bellamy (formerly of The Tornados and father of Matt Bellamy of rock band Muse). As an engineer, he became specialised in process control, and as a challenge set to him by RCA (now Sony Music), he created a method to produce a perfect five-piece extrusion moulding; the first perfectly playable audio picture disc. Previously, no one had been able to create discs within a constant tolerance and without severe warping. In this procedure he was the first engineer to incorporate fuzzy logic into the process control of the record press by building his own logic controllers. Clients included Virgin, Island and other major record companies with hundreds of chart-topping products, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Eurythmics Madonna and Boy George. Additional facilities were later added in Dagenham & Islington, representing the largest independent manufacturer of records and cassette tapes in the UK.
After vinyl started to decline, David turned his passion towards Digital Audio. Inspired by his experience in cutting the master acetate discs for vinyl record manufacturing, he became interested in developing mastering for the Compact Disc. One observation he made was that many people were transferring analogue tapes raw to digital, not realising the cutting engineer in the past would have added EQ compression and even reverb to the final disc cut. He found that using his skills as a producer and recording engineer he could add the final audio touch to the digital masters. His work rapidly became a big success and SRT's audio facility grew to contain six studios. He was one of the first people in the world in the mid 1990s, to use 32-Bit Digital EQ. David created the audio for a wide range of back catalogue giving older recording new success, some of which included the chart topping album One Step Beyond and the biggest selling Jazz CD of the 1990s, Jazz on a Summer's Day, making new hits of "Take Five" and "The Girl from Ipanema". Being an engineer at the start of the digital audio revolution, his work, plus the training of many technicians, made a contribution towards establishing the present importance of audio mastering, now a standard embellishment process for most commercial audio products and in particular CD audio.
In addition to his work on commercial audio products, he was also a leader in creation of the first 20-bit recordings and an early exponent of Sony's Super Bit Mapping noise shaping. With a team of staff under his supervision, he recorded over 120 high bit classical albums with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, working with some of the world’s leading performers and conductors, such as the late Yehudi Menuhin and Sir Charles Mackerras. The narration for Peter and The Wolf was produced by David and recorded in London with the actor Sir John Gielgud. Sound Recording Technology's classical team recorded the RPO series on its own Mitsubishi 20-bit reel-to-reel machines in many locations, including CTS Studios in Wembley, Watford Town Hall, Abbey Road and at SRT's own studios in Edison Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire. Each of the recordings were subject to 20-bit Sadie music editing, plus 32-bit sound enhancements. The final recordings received critical acclaim in the leading classical publication Gramophone and most of the recordings are still widely available. In 1997, he and his music team collaborated with Buckingham Palace to produce the official recording to commemorate the decommissioning of HMY Britannia. The recording was of British music performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Carl Davis; it includes material such as "Coronation Scot", "Jerusalem" and "Rule, Britannia!". The production team included: music producer, Matthew Dilley; location sound recordist, Richard Millard; Editor, Andrew Lang; and David who was executive producer. The final edited 20-bit master was treated with 32-bit sound processing and then scaled to the final master using a new format at the time, HDCD.
In 1999, David took a break from Sound Recording Technology, spending more time in his Spanish home. For a number of years he hosted a late night chat show on Central Radio in Andalucia.
In 2006 he opened mastering and post production facilities in Kensington, under the name Chapel Kensington. This included a busy voice over and Avid video editing facility. In 2008, among many projects, he created a new 5.1 surround soundtrack for the original cult series The Prisoner, which was re-released having been visually restored from the original film footage. Other projects ranged from mastering new compilations with artists such as Eddy Grant to work for Notting Hill Music, mastering music by Beyonce, Will Smith, Pussycat Dolls, Level 42, New Order and Bronski Beat. He also mastered the audio for the TV show Hollyoaks and music for Dancing on Ice.
Projects have included work for Demon Music Group (a division of BBC Worldwide), mastering new CDs and vinyl releases of the Average White Band, Squeeze, Buzzcocks, Rick Wakeman, OMD, Ten Years After, Uriah Heap, Spandau Ballet, Gary Numan, Fairport Convention, Asia, Lindisfarne, Sad Café, The Strawbs, Belinda Carlisle and Wishbone Ash. Recent restoration work has included masters of classic standard repertoire from Quincy Jones to Frank Sinatra, as well as jazz artists including Miles Davis.
Chapel Kensington's London studio was moved in June 2015. The studio operation is now working under the original brand name SRT (Sound Recording Technology), thus embracing four decades of reputation and concentrating on mastering for all audio formats, including online mastering, as well as both video production and post. It is based in David's original and present hometown of Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Also working in the business is his son Jack Richardson.
The present business includes an online download and streaming label under the brand Techniche, distributed through Sony that has a catalogue of successful products, from classic hits like Etta James’ At Last to the most popular version of Elgars Nimrod, produced by David with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In Japan, SRT has its own label of high quality 96K Jazz Albums distributed by Onkyo. These have had huge chart success with six top ten albums. New projects include a TV Video production with son Jack, called Women Love Wheels; to be launched in 2019, this emphasises the growth in car sales to women.
In September 2015, Richardson featured in a programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4, where he spoke about the early history of SRT's studio in Luton. The programme is available here.