Since opening its doors in 1975, this heritage studio in South Wales – less than three miles away from the idyllic market town of Monmouth – has been one of the UK’s leading residential facilities, playing host to artists including Black Sabbath, Oasis, Robert Plant, Simple Minds and Biffy Clyro.
Producer/mixer Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, U2), who first worked there in 2007, returned on numerous occasions in the interim years and has now relocated his vintage Neve studio from Los Angeles, California to Monnow Valley. “I fell in love with the rooms at Monnow Valley,” he explained, “and immediately knew the Neve would sound amazing there. When my move to the UK became concrete, I called Jo [Riou, studio owner] and we struck the deal. It’s great to finally see it sitting next to one of my favourite live rooms.”
Scheps has spent the last 20 years putting his studio together, rescuing gear from studios forced to shut their doors such as Sound City, Ocean Way Recording and Signet Soundelux. The centrepiece of his collection is a 64-channel Neve 8068 Mk II complete with Flying Faders. Scheps has also brought a selection of vintage gear including Pultec and Lang EQs, Urei and RCA limiters, as well as valve classics from Neumann and AKG to sit alongside it.
Additional equipment includes a Neve BCM-10 with 10x 1073 modules, a pair of RCA Ku3's and an array of boutique mics, compressors and EQs. Full equipment list and studio spec can be found here.
The install was overseen by studio co-manager Tom Manning alongside technician Richard Griffiths (ex-Olympic Studios) and engineers Matt Glasbey, Curtis Elvidge, Liam Ross and Beau Blaise.
Manning and Scheps designed the new layout, installing Pro Tools HDX2 with 64 I/O. New solid oak flooring has been laid in the control room complementing the unique organic design which flows through the studio. The enormous trademark cartwheel doors remain and can be closed to partition off the 1,200 sqft live area, enabling variable acoustics between areas.
The cartwheel doors have been retained, and measure 15ft (H) x 17ft (W)
While Scheps will certainly be booking the room to produce and record (if it’s available), the studio is 100% open for business. “I suppose, in a way, I’m hoping the room will be too busy for me to get into,” he says.
“While many studios are having to diversify or close completely, I am delighted that Monnow Valley will not only continue to provide our clients with a wonderful space to create, but that we have also been able to expand into a place which now surpasses all our expectations” Riou adds. “Andrew has brought something very special to this small corner of Wales and our vision is for it to continue for years to come."
The residential accommodation has also been upgraded but still retains its country house appeal. “Our clients love the home from home vibe at Monnow Valley,” states studio co-manager Megan Griffiths. “We have seven lovely bedrooms, a spacious lounge and dining room, a gym, plus three acres of gardens and the beautiful River Monnow (including a mile of game fishing) on our doorstep."
Clients also have the option of sampling bespoke menus created by an in-house chef, or for those on a budget the studio continues to offer comprehensive self catering facilities.
For more information on the studio, including contact details, click here.