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Belly of the Beast has become the first facility in the United Kingdom to install a Neve 8424 console.
The Neve 8424 was designed to offer a centralized platform with connectivity between the worlds of analog and digital. Its maker says that it delivers the large format sound of the iconic Neve 80-series console, but in a smaller format. It is well-suited to studios like Belly of the Beast, where esoteric and vintage outboard equipment play a significant role in the facility’s workflow.
“For studios like ours where you have a large and varied collection of preamps, EQs and interesting bits of outboard gear, this desk is ideal because it provides a very logical system to bring all of those elements together,” says producer, mix engineer and studio manager James Rand. “We now have an architecture where we can route our preamps directly into the console and send the sound wherever we need it.”
Nick Cage, producer and manager of Dizzee Rascal owns Belly of the Beast. The studio was set up as a private facility, but recently has become an end-to-end facility. Artists have access to a team of writers, session musicians and engineers who can handle all aspects of their projects, from recording through to mixing and mastering.
The decision to replace Cage’s old TL Audio VTC console with the Neve 8424 was part of a long-term plan to attract more commercial projects, Rand explained.
“We already do a lot of mixing and that part of our business became even more important during lockdown, so having a console with reliable recall was an imperative,” he says. “The arrival of the new desk gave us the opportunity to reorganise the studio and all our racks so that we could create an environment that really supports artists and allows them to get some wicked work done.”
The Neve 8424 has an on-board system that saves, loads and recalls all settings, faders and pot positions on a session-by-session basis. This allows engineers to take advantage of all analog features without the worry of losing console settings or wasting valuable studio time.
Belly of the Beast’s Neve 8424 console was installed over a period of two weeks. “It took a while because we have a lot of outboard equipment that we needed to integrate,” explained Rand. “It also makes sense to build your own presets in advance.”
Since installing the Neve 8424, Rand has used the desk on a number of projects including mixes for artists such as Lapsely, Sega Bodega, Mykki Blanco and Beatrice Dillon.