Build It And They Will Come

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Late summer 2012 and our main client, AudioGO (previously BBC Audiobooks) told us that due to cost-cutting they wouldn’t be able to keep using us as their London/SE producers if we continued to use Central London studios to record

(even though the Central London studios were something they liked because it gave them somewhere to send celebs and top names). Unless we could drastically reduce production costs, they would only be able to send us editing work from now on.

Hmmm…this was a real problem for me. A small business comprising just me and my then partner Tanja (everyone else was freelance), and our main client was about to pull the plug on our income stream. The studios in Central London were already offering me a superb per hour rate, and I knew there was nowhere cheaper that would be of the standard we needed.

So what to do? I quickly started researching studios nearer to my home in Croydon, thinking I could offset production costs by lowering travel costs. Sadly there just weren’t any that were designed for single voice audio production…they were music and rehearsal studios, and either cost too much or didn’t want us taking up valuable larger space for 2-3 days at a time.

And so I was left with nowhere to go and a client about to jump ship. What could I do? I could solve the problem myself by building my own audiobook studio facility, right here in sunny Croydon. OK, I’d need to borrow some start-up money, and find a location, and work out the rent and rates and taxes and everything else! I’d need to design a studio that was easy to install and easy to remove, thereby reducing ‘make right’ costs and keeping things flexible.

And so, in September 2012 we started scouting potential locations, and quite quickly came across the Capital Business Centre, just between South Croydon and Sanderstead stations. There was a good sized room at a decent monthly rate, with month-in and month-out status, no lengthy rental period and relatively quiet neighbours. It also had parking, an ace cafe and was easy to get to for me and the narrators. Perfect.

With the where sorted, I had to work out the how. For years I had coveted the soundbooths at the back of the StudioSpares catalogue and so I thought, heck, maybe that’s the solution. A few calls to Esmono booth expert Roy at SS, and I knew this was the way to go. With his help I was

able to spec the facility out with various other equipment and the order was placed (a rather eye-watering, wallet-scaring amount).

In mid-November, on a rather damp Saturday, the installation took place. As the booth was built, Tanja and I put together everything else, from sofas and tables, to shelving and desks. By mid-afternoon, where there had previously been an empty office, we now had a lovely 2.2mx2.2mx3m Esmono soundbooth…and that meant we were in business! A day of installing the rest of the gear, and then a week or two of testing, finally led to the 6th Dec and our first recording job.

And now we are 5 years later…5 YEARS! It’s not always been an easy ride, with many months of struggle and grind, the closure of AudioGO and the parting of ways with Tanja. But this past year, although tough personally, has been a great success for the business. We are working on more titles than ever before, for the likes of Audible, BBC Audio, Penguin, Random House, Little Brown, WF Howes, SPCK and others. Plus we are still successfully producing our own titles and distributing them through

And in the last few weeks a new STUDIO 2 has been born, in the office next door, and it has already been used for three productions with at least two more booked in before Xmas 2017. After 5 years, we’ve expanded and grown and it is a thrill to have a 2 studio facility, and to welcome new friends to the Ladbroke Audio family, such as Morrison Ellis, who produces and runs studio 2.

So there we are…Ladbroke Audio Studios is 5 years old today, and I hope another 5 years lay ahead of us because there are ample amazing audio adventures we’d love to take you on!

If you are a publisher or author looking for somewhere fun and professional to help produce your audiobooks, please don’t hesitate to get in touch…we’d love to be your audiobook producers! – proud to be a Croydon business!


About the Author:

Neil Gardner is the managing director of leading UK audiobook production house Ladbroke Audio, and audiobook publisher Spokenworld Audio. He has 30 years experience in radio and audio, is an international award-winning producer/director/writer and loves nothing more than making audio for all ages.
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