Guitar amplifier manufacturer Marshall has opened a new recording studio next to its Milton Keynes factory in the UK, with a live room has a stage with lighting and PA, artist green room, bar and reception area as well as a large recording control room centered on a 40-channel vintage Neve 8048 console.
“This has been a passion project for the Marshall crew,” says Marshall commercial director Alex Coombes. “Our ambition was to build a versatile and flexible commercial multimedia facility to serve the modern entertainment market, and at the same time to promote young talent and give something back to the artist and producer community.”
Producer Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Feeder, Therapy?) has already been in the studio recording rockers Bad Touch. “I love the new Marshall Studio – a fantastic live room big enough to track a band – in fact, big enough to track a decent-sized orchestra comfortably. The vintage Neve desk sounds glorious… anything coming through those mic pres sounds, well, better! A great microphone selection to cover all eventualities and if you can’t see something you like, lots of equipment is pretty much two minutes away in the factory… what’s not to like?”
More than 100 microphones are available, and the entire facility is equipped with tie lines, loudspeaker connectors and AoIP Ethernet links. Four Focusrite RedNet A16R 24-bit 192 kHz 16-channel analog interfaces feed a Dante digital network, with an Avid HDX card providing the workstation link to Avid Pro Tools | Ultimate.
“Every part of the building has a mic tie line, a speaker output, and an instrument output for guitar amps, plus you’ve got data via RJ45 for monitoring or remote connection via six Focusrite RedNet AM2,” explains studio manager Adam Beer. “We can take any Dante mic preamp, put it anywhere in the building, it will come into our main network and we can record it directly. It means that the whole building is effectively the studio, even the office at the top.”
Beer arrived at Marshall after a decade of experience in both recording and live sound. “I think we can do everything here. We’ve got a world-class recording studio, it’s a concert venue with capacity for an audience of up to 250 people and we can do video filming – for product reviews, podcasts, live concert streams – you name it, we’ve set up a place that can allow creative people to fulfil their potential, whatever they want to do. I think it’s a massive vote of confidence in the creative industry from Marshall. It’s a privilege and an honor to be heading it up.”
The unique vintage Neve 40-channel console, with a separate custom analog patchbay installed to the side, has been configured by Neve specialist Blake Devitt. The console frame came from EMI Pathé-Marconi studio in Paris and is populated by a selection of hand-tweaked modules. To the left are 24 channels with 1093 modules while at the right, 16 channels include an additional eclectic mix of 1065, 1066 and 1095 modules. A re-build of the desk has made space in the center of the Neve for a Pro Tools screen and keyboard, with Devitt building three new low-noise busbars, including one for solo-in-place, for the Neve summing system.
“The limiting factor for many vintage consoles is the record/overdub/mix modes in the master section – which of course only made sense during the tape era,” Devitt explains. “This mixer, as it has been re-configured, gives you two completely separate consoles which can be used for whatever the producer wants. I’ve even made the patch section ‘plug in’ in blocks of eight by changing the sockets underneath to reflect custom configurations, so the mixer can be set up without filling the patchbay with a nest of cables.”
Studio manager Beer notes that even the facility’s first recording session was a success: “Romesh Dodangoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Motorhead, Funeral For A Friend) produced some amazing recordings on the first test session, and the band went away very happy.”