Musician and composer, Andy Huckvale is very pleased with the desktop monitor controller, Nero which resides in his new studio, designed and installed by Miloco Builds. Audient released Nero just a couple of weeks before his home studio was finished; a stroke of luck for Andy, as up until then “there wasn’t one on the market that ticked all the boxes.
“The main reason I chose it was how configurable everything is,” he continues, the setup being ideal for his work writing music for tv commercials. “I can punch the sub in and out individually, add up to two alt speakers and set different cues for my other headphone feeds when I’m recording piano or drums. I’m not entirely sure how my workflow will change over the next few years, so this covered all bases without costing the earth.”
Admitting that he had a substantial wishlist of gear for his new studio, including Audient’s 8-channel mic preamp ASP800, still the monitor controller was “a really important piece” for him. With the Nero in place, he says, “It feels really solid, has a nice, chunky volume knob, sounds really clean and fits within easy reach on my desktop.”
“It feels really solid, has a nice, chunky volume knob, sounds really clean and fits within easy reach on my desktop”
Indeed, the whole studio has turned out as he imagined. “I basically wanted a space that I would feel inspired to work in,” says Andy, who bought his Grade II listed home in Warwick a couple of years before, earmarking the basement for this project. “A home studio has an opportunity to reflect the character of its owner. For me that was having a warm colour scheme – and lots and lots of wood.”
Miloco Builds, usually known for larger projects such as Paul Epworth’s studio at The Church or international projects for Amazon, stepped up to the challenge. The studio is based around a main wooden desk with a sliding 88-key controller keyboard drawer and a widescreen monitor and Andy is surrounded by his synths and pedals for easy access. “I wanted an area where I wasn’t looking at a screen and could get a bit more hands-on and just leave it on record whilst I experimented.
“I needed a bunch of quality preamps with the option of a couple of them having some additional colouring for the kick and snare” ~ enter ASP800
“There’s also an upright piano and a drum kit to the rear of the studio. These all have tie-lines to the main patchbay, so everything is connected and ready to record.” Enter the 8-channel preamp ASP800 from Audient which handles all the drum mics. “I needed a bunch of quality preamps with the option of a couple of them having some additional colouring for the kick and snare,” he explains. “I also try and leave everything mic’d up, so I can get ideas down quickly and not be mucking around with mic stands.”
Reflecting on a busy year, Andy remarks, “2019 has been a kind of a landmark year.” Apart from the studio build, which involved digging out the basement in his 19th century home to achieve an optimal acoustic and great isolation to the house above, he also celebrated the arrival of his first child. Incredibly, he also found time to branch out into a number of other fields, including music for podcast themes, online book catalogues and computer games. “The latter was a real challenge – I was putting together the music for the Over the Alps game on the new Apple Arcade platform and ended up doing all the sound design too, so I had to juggle the creative and the technical parts of my brain quite a bit.”
“I basically wanted a space that I would feel inspired to work in”
With the studio finished, he is fired-up to work on his third studio album under his Huckvale moniker, where he is certainly in his element: “It has involved a lot of nerding about making tape loops with old 4-track recorders and dictaphones. I also want to mix in some live orchestral instruments and hardware synths and then somehow infuse that all with a pop sensibility! I’ve given myself a bit of a conundrum I think, but I’m enjoying just tinkering with things in the new studio to see what sounds come to the surface.”
So inspiration has hit and everything has come together for Andy. “I’ve been working out of here for about 6 months and I love it. When I go downstairs to the studio, I’m at work for the day, so even though I’m working from home there’s still enough of a barrier to not get distracted. Saying that, I’m also really lucky that I’ll be around to witness any milestones if our baby starts taking his first steps during the daytime!”
Sounds like a perfect setup to Audient.