Synth whizz Will Gregory gears up to take new Goldfrapp album to the masses with ATC assistance
“What’s good about the SCM25A Pros is that they’re more muscular; they’ve got more bass end, and you can control that… they manage to throw the sweet spot quite a long way into the room, so everyone can share it… but they have all that accuracy, so when you do sit yourself down in the sweet spot they’re absolutely invaluable.” – Will Gregory (composer/keyboardist/producer), 2017.
BOX HILL, WILTS, UK: specialist British loudspeaker drive unit and complete sound reproduction system manufacturer ATC is proud to announce that Goldfrapp synth whizz Will Gregory turned to London based ATC dealer Funky Junk to supplement his trusty Nineties-vintage SCM20 passive monitors with an altogether more modern SCM25A Pro three-way active studio pairing, promptly put to good use when working on the multiple Grammy®-nominated British electronic duo’s recently released seventh studio album, Silver Eye…
But before finding critical acclaim and international chart success with vocalist Alison Goldfrapp — Supernature sold over one million copies as Goldfrapp’s third album (featuring striking smash hit ‘Ooh La La’), the Bristol-born multi-talented composer, keyboardist, and producer predominantly recorded and toured throughout the Eighties with Bath-based rock/pop phenomenon Tears For Fears and later performed with other big name ‘local’ acts, including singer-songwriter/humanitarian activist Peter Gabriel and trip-hop pioneers Portishead. It was around this time that Will Gregory began a lifelong love affair with those trusty two-way passives, playing their part in putting him on the road to Goldfrapp glory. “I managed to source a second-hand pair of SCM20s, because I didn’t have a lot of money at the time,” he begins. “But I’ve always used them as my main reference monitors, and I’ve taken them to all the mixing sessions we’ve done with Goldfrapp. I know where I am with them, so they’ve stood me in good stead, because they have this quality of not bringing anything to the party.”
Problems have, however, occurred — albeit as far as Will Gregory’s well-honed listening skills are concerned — when stepping outside his ATC comfort zone: “I’ve had to mix on other speakers when working elsewhere, but then when I play those mixes back on the SCM20s I end up making more changes — put it that way. Whatever else I play them on after I’ve made those changes, I don’t want to make any more changes, so — in that sense — you can trust them to be accurate.”
All of which rather begs the question: why the need to move on up to ATC’s acclaimed SCM25A Pro three-way actives? An answer lies somewhat closer to home. Home is where the heart is, after all, and home for Will Gregory is a spacious Sixties bungalow also housing his primary studio setup (as well as a synth-based room and another room dedicated to analogue drum sounds and tape manipulation). Here he hunkered down for the best part of two years to work on the new Goldfrapp album, announced on Twitter by Alison Goldfrapp herself back in July 2015. While Will Gregory has not entirely forsaken his passive pair of beloved SCM20s, the larger SCM25A Pro three-way active studio monitors met with his approval in more ways than one: “What’s good about the SCM25A Pros is that they’re more muscular; they’ve got more bass end, and you can control that because they’ve got ports on the side, so you can decide how much or little you want, which is great. I love the totally practical, physical way that you can just remove or insert the bungs to change the bass, but, either way, they fill the room much better than the SCM20s.”
Tricky as it may sound, residential room size played a part in influencing Will Gregory’s studious SCM25A Pro purchasing decision. “I’m in quite a big room now,” notes its owner, adding: “I’m here a lot of the time, so it functions like a home. I think they used to have more room in the Sixties, so it’s got this large sitting room with a lovely picture window, which means you can see some nature while working. So I love it from that point of view, having spent so many years underground, which is where musicians seem to put themselves a lot the time in studios for some strange reason. But because we’re detached here, we’re not going to disturb our neighbours unduly, so it’s ideal. But when I’m working with other people in there we clearly can’t all fit in the sweet spot between the speakers, yet they manage to throw the sweet spot quite a long way into the room, so everyone can share it. They’re also fantastic for just ramping up the vibe a little bit, but they have all that accuracy, so when you do sit yourself down in the sweet spot they’re absolutely invaluable.”
Invaluable for referencing that all-important bass end on Goldfrapp’s eagerly-awaited seventh studio album, about which the dynamic duo themselves collectively commented: “Silver Eye belongs more to the electronic world of Supernature and Black Cherry. We’ve worked with some fantastic people on this album and we’re really excited to share it with you.”
SCM25A Product Page
Will Gregory Moog Ensemble
GREEN DAY AND CHRIS DUGAN OUTFIT NEW STUDIO WITH ATC SCM45s AND SUBWOOFER PROS FOR REVOLUTION RADIO
As the legendary five-time Grammy-winning punk rock trio Green Day filled out a project studio in anticipation of recording its twelfth studio album, their longtime engineer, Chris Dugan (U2, Iggy Pop, Smash Mouth), collaborated on the equipment choices. They filled it with their favorites, including API, BAE, Manley, Vintech, Universal Audio, Chandler preamps and equalizers, and a Trident 80b console. When it came time to decide on monitors, Dugan recommended ATC SCM45A Pro nearfields paired with two Subwoofer Pros Studio 18’s, following his success with his own pair of ATC SCM25A Pro monitors. As a result, “Green Day’s recently released recording, Revolution Radio was recorded entirely on the ATC/Subwoofer Pros system. The system was sold to Dugan and Green Day by their long-term supplier, Cutting Edge Audio and Video, San Francisco.
“We had been demoing some songs the band had been working on, and as we made the transition to recording for the album, I suggested that we consider upping the monitoring in Green Day’s project studio,” Dugan said. “We agreed that it made sense to go to the top of the line so that we would know that we’re doing exactly what we hope we’re doing for this big recording project. I have a pair of ATC SCM25As, and I heard the SCM45As at AES last year. I knew they would give us the kind of precision monitoring that we needed, and Brad Lunde at TransAudio Group helped us complement the ATCs with two Subwoofer Pros subs.”
He continued, “They were exactly what we were hoping for; we were able to hear absolutely everything. When I’m talking to my non-audio friends, I tell them that monitors are like prescription glasses: you can’t really discern the details without a good pair. Bad monitors hide various aspects of the sound, and it’s those aspects that poke out in weird ways when you listen back on another system. In contrast, the ATCs reveal everything. The Subwoofer Pros subs fill in the bottom end nicely, which gave us a more inspiring playback – the full frequency impact was impressive!”
JOE CHICCARELLI SCORES WITH ATC SCM45A PRO MONITORS
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 2016: With Ten Grammy wins, including Best Engineered Album for The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely and scores of platinum and gold albums, Joe Chiccarelli has made good on the famous opportunity Frank Zappa gave him during the recording of “Sheik Yerbouti” – among Zappa’s best-selling albums ever. When the head engineer couldn’t make the session, Zappa promoted then-assistant engineer Chiccarelli to take the lead.
Joe Chiccarelli at Sunset Sound with his ATC SCM45A Pro.
Since then, Chiccarelli has had the opportunity to work with the biggest and best artists in the music industry, including U2, Beck, Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Tori Amos, The Strokes, Jason Mraz, The White Stripes, and on and on and on. Inspired by their transparent midrange, extended low- and high-end, and impressive SPLs, Chiccarelli recently switched from the monitors he had been using for two decades to ATC SCM45A Pro nearfields.
“I had stuck by the same monitors for twenty years because they offered the kind of phase coherence that allowed me to hear, for example, small differences in mic position,” explained Chiccarelli. “But in the last five years or so, I started looking around for something that would give me that same phase coherence, but greater low-end and high-end content to meet the current expectations in the recording industry. People are making bigger, punchier albums these days, with an extended frequency range and plenty of synthesized sounds with extreme frequency content. For a long time, it was an unsuccessful search, and I stayed with my old monitors.”
He continued, “But then I was working with The Killers at their studio in Las Vegas, and Brad (Lunde, president of ATC’s U.S. distributor, TransAudio Group) loaned me a pair of ATC SCM25A loudspeakers. We were doing guitar overdubs at the time, and the moment we put the SCM25As up, I heard details that went beyond the capabilities of my old monitors. It was immediately apparent that I had to go move the mic a quarter inch because it wasn’t quite right where it was. That’s the kind of fine detail that I depend on to make the right decisions.” Keen for more low end than the SCM25As could offer, Chiccarelli waited – on the advice of Lunde – for the introduction of the ATC SCM45As, which have two low-end drivers.
In the year-and-a-half that he’s had them, Chiccarelli has used them to record, mix, and/or produce Morrissey, Alanis Morissette, Arkells, Needtobreathe, Milow, Spoon… “pretty much everything I’ve done,” he said. “Recently I’ve been traveling to Montréal to work on a project with Broken Social Scene, and after I finished pretending that I could get by without my ATCs, Brad stepped in to help me find a local pair that I could use. It’s really the midrange for me – that’s the tell. Plenty of monitors can impress with their low end or high end, but the midrange is where most of the critical work happens. I think that’s why engineers used to rely so heavily on Auratones, Altecs, and JBLs – speakers that had that clarity in the midrange. New speakers, with the exception of ATCs, are missing that. And truth be told, ATCs take that midrange clarity to a whole new level – this is something new under the sun.”
Not only do the ATC SCM45As sound great and produce recordings that reliably translate, they also produce plenty of clean volume. “That’s important,” Chiccarelli states. “I do a lot of live tracking sessions with full bands – it’s not just about the vocal. I want the band to come back into the control room and get excited about the work they’re doing. I want it to be big and powerful and to reflect who they are as artists. It’s an impressive psychological advantage that feeds back to inspire better recordings. My SCM45As practically sound like soffit-mounted mains!”
Chiccarelli is so reliant on and impressed by the ATC SCM45A Pro that he recently purchased a second pair for a new overdub room that he opened up in his home-away-from-home, Sunset Sound.
SCM45A Pro Product Page.
Transaudio Group (ATC U.S. Distribution).
ATC announces availability of P2 Pro Dual Mono Power Amplifier
ATC is proud to announce upcoming availability of the P2 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier — a true dual mono design, delivering 300W of continuous power simultaneously from both channels to drive the most challenging loudspeaker loads with ATC’s signature virtues of wide bandwidth and ultra-low distortion — as of November 3rd…
Hand-built by ATC in the UK, as implied by name, the Class A/B P2 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier is a dual mono design, keeping the power supplies, signal, and return paths discrete. This approach ensures that the amplifier will achieve maximum signal separation with minimal crosstalk, and that intermodulation between channels via the power supplies is reduced to an absolute minimum across a frequency range of 400kHz. It also means that the power delivery from one channel cannot affect the specified power available from the other.
Within a new low-vibration 19-inch rack-mount chassis design featuring a precision machined 12.7mm brushed aluminium front panel, the P2 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier’s layout includes a massive, custom-made 400 VA low-noise transformer for each channel and an output stage involving three pairs of MOSFET devices per channel to achieve peak current output of over 15 amps. According to ATC Technical Sales Manager Ben Lilly, “The final design of these transformers is the result of seven design iterations with the goal of achieving best possible audio performance and lowest possible mechanical noise. This was achieved by using a very high-grade steel core which is then vacuum-impregnated with high-temperature resin, post-winding. The exceptionally low levels of mechanical hum/buzz, along with convention cooling, are vital features if the amplifiers are to be used in control rooms designed with lowest possible levels of background noise.”
Needless to say, with ATC’s unique ‘grounded source’ output stage, smooth power delivery and extremely low harmonic distortion is a given. Gain matches that of the P2 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier’s lower power P1 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier sibling so that they can be used together in passive bi-amp or tri-amp systems connected via ‘Link’ phono inputs/outputs.
The P2 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier offers both balanced XLR and unbalanced phono inputs, ‘Link’ phono outputs, proprietary speaker terminals, and a front panel-mounted power switch. Signing off, Ben Lilly lets it be known that this product has been a long time in the making due to two major factors — namely, new power supply design and a new top cover/lid design: “The mains power ‘soft start’ feature has been revised, slowing the rate at which the unit powers up. The design of the venting has also been revised with the steel mesh covering the heatsink vents being replaced by a beautiful acid-etched stainless steel insert. Not only does this component greatly enhance the amplifier visually, it also reduces lid/cover vibration.”
Weighing in at an impressive 21kg/46.2lbs, the P2 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier’s accomplished specifications similarly leave little to chance:
- Max Continuous Output Power : 300W (8Ω, 1% THD).
- Input Sensitivity: 2V rms (ref. 150W out).
- Input Impedance: 10kΩ/leg.
- Frequency Response: <2Hz – >400kHz (-3dB).
- Signal to Noise Ratio : >110dB (DIN).
- Crosstalk: >100dB.
- THD: >0.002%/-95dB.
The British-built P2 Pro Dual Mono Power Amplifier will be available as of November 3, 2016 at a UK RRP of £2,833.00 GBP (plus VAT). For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated P2 Pro product webpage.
New Product Launch: ATC SCM12 Pro
ATC are very proud to announce upcoming availability of the SCM12 Pro — an all-new high-performance, two-way compact passive nearfield monitor – as of Monday 3rd October.
As an all-new design, the SCM12 Pro proffers ATC’s acclaimed performance at a lower price point without compromising component quality and achieves this in a more compact, installation-friendly footprint ideally suited to nearfield monitoring as well as multichannel music and post-production applications.
ATC SCM12 Pro
“Anyone who has been waiting for an ATC nearfield with a smaller footprint, that is more easily installed, or that is more affordable, yet still delivers undiminished ATC performance, then the SCM12 Pro could be for them.” So says ATC Technical Sales Manager Ben Lilly, before adding: “ATC R&D Manager Richard Newman has poured the same knowhow, time, and passion into this new model that has made the rest of the professional product line so successful. Users will find that productions completed using the SCM12 Pro will translate beautifully to other systems and that their incredibly low distortion makes listening to them a pleasure — even after long hours in the studio. At under £1,150.00 per pair, they may prove ideal for those seeking to upgrade ageing, hard-to-repair passive studio monitors.”
Though the SCM12 Pro is the most affordable model in the professional range of loudspeakers, the monitor makes use of the ATC’s celebrated drive units for both the mid/bass and tweeter, both being meticulously hand built at the UK facility.
The tweeter is a 25mm/one-inch soft-dome designed around ATC’s unique dual-suspension technology. Unlike conventional tweeters, this precision part employs two suspensions, offering far greater control of the voice coil and dome motion — especially at higher sound pressure levels. The result is an extended high-frequency response with much greater clarity and definition due to the reduction in disturbing an-harmonic distortion. Listener fatigue is also greatly reduced, resulting in users being able to work for longer periods with greater accuracy.
ATC SH26-76 HF Driver
At the lower end of the frequency spectrum, mid/bass reproduction is handled by ATC’s 150mm/six-inch proprietary CLD drive unit. Using a 45mm/1.75-inch diameter voice coil, and employing an FEA (Finite Element Analysis) optimised high-energy symmetric gap motor system, the driver is capable of tremendous dynamic range with minimal power compression. Cone construction is courtesy of another proprietary ATC technology that represents another advance in driver performance — namely, Constrained Layer Damping (CLD), a process that uses multiple laminated fabric cones to form a stiff, light, and tremendously well-damped structure. Speaking acoustically, this construction creates a smoother on- and off-axis frequency response and also a reduction in distortion leading to a more lifelike reproduction of source material. Meaningfully, judgements and decisions can be made more quickly, more accurately, and for longer periods of time by busy working audio professionals.
Put it another way: by employing exceptional drive units, the passive crossover can, by design, use the minimum number of components in a simple, second-order implementation. Indeed, the capacitors are all 250Vdc metalised polypropylene and all the inductors are air-cored types for minimal signal distortion. Additionally, all of the inductors are wound in house with very high-purity copper while large-gauge wire is used for the bass components to minimise signal losses.
ATC CLD Bass Driver
Looking beyond the release of the superb-sounding SCM12 Pro, an install-specific sibling, the SCM12i, will be available as of Q1 2017. This model will feature threaded mounting points to mate with widely-available wall and ceiling brackets from K&M and Adaptive Technologies to simplify installation — incredibly useful in complex multichannel systems, such as those required by Auro 3-D, Dolby ATMOS, or DTS:X.
Discerning audio professionals always appreciate that exceptional passive monitors require exceptional amplification; as far as the SCM12 Pro is concerned, the best possible results will be achieved when it is partnered with ATC’s own range of stereo power amplifiers. As such, the 150Wper- channel P1 Pro dual-mono power amplifier is the perfect partner — both in terms of power output and its outstanding resolution, resulting from technology originally developed for ATC’s high-end active monitoring systems. So customers can comfortably make the upgrade to an all-ATC monitoring and amplification system, an attractive package price will be offered for purchasing the two products simultaneously.
ATC SCM12 Pro & P1 Pro Power Amp
Simple, well-engineered products almost always trump feature-rich, cost-engineered alternatives, and ATC’s SCM12 Pro has been duly designed with that philosophy very much intact. Its neutral fidelity makes it a very versatile proposition, one which — when backed up with the company’s industry-leading six-year warranty — makes for a high-value, longterm investment for anyone looking to upgrade their monitoring system. So now is the time to consider EQ’ing, balancing, and editing faster, with more consistent results and reduced listening fatigue using the latest nearfield monitoring marvel from ATC.
Audio professional or otherwise, witness the performance of these two new products alongside the company’s full professional product range by visiting ATC at EastWest Studios (Studio Two), 6000 West Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, California, USA from Friday, September 30 to Saturday, October 1, 2016.
ATC and US distributor TransAudio Group will also be hosting a press-only event from 7.00-8.00 pm on Friday, September 30 (just prior to the AES Party in Studio One at EastWest Studios).
The SCM12 Pro will also be being showcased Stateside by Vintage King Audio throughout the 141st AES Convention, September 29-October 1, 2016 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California… come check it out!
The SCM12 Pro will be available from 3rd October 2016.
UK Retail Pricing
SCM12 Pro £1146.00 ex VAT.
P1 Pro Power Amp £2165.00 ex VAT.
SCM12 Pro/P1 Pro Package: £2980.00 ex VAT (saving 10% over items purchased seperately).
Tom Elmhirst augments ATC monitoring setup at ‘home’ in Electric Lady Studios
“The addition of SCM45A Pros perfectly supplement my second rig to bring it in line with my main control room monitoring setup. It’s important that both rigs can speak the same language so I can work and my assistants can work in both places comfortably and confidently.”
– Tom Elmhirst, 2016 (mix engineer).
NEW YORK, USA: specialist British loudspeaker drive unit and complete sound reproduction system manufacturer ATC is proud to announce that GRAMMY award-winning mix engineer extraordinaire Tom Elmhirst — already an advocate of ATC’s professional loudspeakers — has supplemented his second setup at Studio C within New York City’s legendary Electric Lady Studios with a pair of SCM45A Pro mid-size, high performance, active three-way studio monitors…
Tom Elmhirst at his Neve VR with ATC SCM50ASL Pro. Photo by Drew Wiedemann. www.drewwiedemann.com
“Tom Elmhirst is a mix engineer based at Electric Lady Studios in NYC.” So reads the somewhat humble homepage for the talented individual in question. Yet the British-born specialist music producer and mix engineer’s many achievements at the helm of large-scale console — currently a Neve VR-72, about which he is on record as stating, “It’s a luxury… I can do ten things at once, but with a mouse I can only do one…” — speak louder than words. While most of the many millions of listeners who have heard the results of his sterling work with several of the biggest-selling recording artists around today will not know a Neve from an SSL, the man with the Midas mixing touch clearly knows what he is doing and must be doing something right with that mission-critical mixing and ATC monitoring setup aiding his course of action time and again.
As of June 2016, British singer/songwriter Adele’s third studio album, 25 — mostly mixed by Tom Elmhirst, has sold some 20 million copies, having become the world’s best-selling album of 2015. He has also manned the faders for Adele’s critically-acclaimed and commerciallysuccessful debut long-player 19 in 2008 and its 2011-released multiple GRAMMY award-winning follow up, 21, the longest-running number one album by a female solo artist in the history of the UK and US album charts. Credits in-between and beyond include Irish rockers U2’s thirteenth studio album Songs Of Innocence (2014) — famed for being announced at an Apple launch event and released on that same day to all 500-million iTunes Store customers at no cost — and 2016’s Blackstar, the twenty-fifth and final studio album by British singer/songwriter David Bowie — the iconic artist’s first and only album to top the Billboard chart in the US in the wake of his death — to name but a notable few.
But between those noted successes, Tom Elmhirst successfully transplanted himself and his sought-after services to Electric Lady Studios, the oldest working and thriving recording studio in New York City, founded back in 1970 by American guitar hero Jimi Hendrix. “I moved here about four years ago for both life and work reasons,” he reasons. “I wanted a change, having mixed in the same room in London for nearly 10 years. You can’t beat being part of an iconic studio based in the heart of Greenwich Village, so when Lee Foster — manager at Electric Lady Studios — showed me the only vacant room I jumped at the chance to set up home there!”
Tom Elmhirst in his studio at Electic Lady. Photo by Drew Wiedemann. www.drewwiedemann.com
The tremendous workload of the time dictated that Tom Elmhirst had to hit the hallowed ground running, so speedily furnished his new ‘home’ with the aforesaid Neve VR-72 console while monitoring came courtesy of ATC, a new and enjoyable experience for the mix engineer extraordinaire: “I’d used monitors from another manufacturer for years, but they stopped making the drivers, so it became increasingly difficult to replace one if it blew. A friend of mine lent me a pair of SCM25A Pros for a few days when I first moved to New York and I enjoyed the experience so much I went ahead and got myself a pair of SCM50ASL Pros. The sub and the speakers are tuned to the room using an XTA DP44 DSP-based audio processor, so everything is balanced as a three-way system rather than just adding low end. Having the sub allows the woofers on the SCM50ASL Pros to work more efficiently as well. In the years that I’ve owned this system, I’ve found the ATCs to be invaluable and the majority of artists that I work for also enjoy the listening experience.”
‘A-list’ artists like Adele. “I was mixing ‘Skyfall’ right around the time that I got my ATCs,” adds Tom Elmhirst. “The accuracy of the SCM50ASL Pros proved invaluable for mixing such a complex song with so much orchestration.”
Obviously Tom Elmhirst knows what he likes and likes what he hears — so much so that he has augmented his ATC setup still further: “The addition of SCM45A Pros perfectly supplement my second rig to bring it in line with my main control room monitoring setup. It’s important that both rigs can speak the same language so I can work and my assistants can work in both places comfortably and confidently.”
Chances are we won’t have to wait long to hear another chart-topping mix making its musical way out of Electric Lady’s Studio C. But by then Tom Elmhirst and his assistants will likely be enjoying the experience of working with those ATC professional loudspeakers on another one!
Electric Lady Studios
Photos by Drew Wiedemann.
NASHVILLE ICON BUDDY MILLER SETTLES DOWN WITH ATC SCM45A MONITORS
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 2016: Buddy Miller is a Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist, and engineer. After getting his start in the late 1970s in New York City and Austin, he moved to Nashville and went on to produce dozens and dozens of big- and small-name talents, including Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, and Robert Plant.
Buddy Miller in his studio with his ATC SCM45A Pro Monitors.
When he’s not on the road, Miller spends some of his days working out of his home studio with his wife, the talented singer-songwriter Julie Miller, who long complained that the studio monitors they used sounded unpleasant – until at last Miller found ATC monitors. The ATCs combine the accuracy and detail needed for mission-critical audio work with the joyful listening experience craved by lovers of great music. Building on three years’ success with ATC SCM25As, Miller recently upgraded to ATC SCM45As, which deliver greater bass response via two low-end drivers and greater high-end clarity with ATC’s made-in-house SH25-76S tweeter.
“Every link in the recording chain is important and it all adds up incrementally to the finished work,” Miller said. “But the monitors are the final link and the only window into what’s going on with all the other links. So I’ve long felt that the monitors have to be as good as they can possibly be. But at the same time, a lot of monitors are hard to listen to all day long. Julie is especially sensitive to the unpleasantness of most monitors. There were many times when we quit working because she just couldn’t take it any more.” Consequently, Miller spent over 25 years moving from one monitoring system to the next, trying to find something that was accurate enough to ensure consistent translation and yet truly pleasurable to listen to.
In the meantime, Miller built out the other components of his home studio, which is now centered on a vintage 28×24 Trident B-Range analog console, an MCI two-inch sixteen-track tape machine, Pro Tools HDX, tons of outboard gear (thirty-two channels of mic pres including a bunch of Telefunken V76 preamps, new and old Urei 1176s, a Fairchild 670, BAE1073s, DBX 160s, a Universal Audio LA-2A, a Manley Massive Passive, et al.) and a fantastic microphone collection. He even has a plate reverb system in his basement! His long, long search for accurate, but pleasant-sounding, monitors ended three years ago when he was working in another studio that had ATC near fields.
“When I heard the ATCs, I thought, ‘Whoa! This has everything!’,” he said. Miller purchased a pair of ATC SCM25A near field monitors, and he and Julie relished their inspiring (and yet still very detailed) sound. “The ATCs are so incredibly detailed in the midrange,” he said. “I can hear all of the reverb tails and delays – really everything that’s going on in a recording. The imaging is stunning. As a result, my recordings translate on any other system. They’re totally solid. And best of all, Julie loves to listen to them, so we get more work done and we get it done more enjoyably.”
These days, Miller likes to record with the entire band in the control room (sometimes even including the drums!) and with the singer in an adjoining room that has good line of sight to the control room. He’s had ample opportunity to perfect that technique: he served as Executive Music Producer for ABC’s drama Nashville for the past three seasons, which required producing and recording sixty to eighty songs per season, each with three recorded versions (a stripped-down songwriting version, a “live” version for the scene, and a polished studio version). In addition, Buddy hosts an ongoing weekly Sirius XM radio show that combines live recordings of artists with conversations.
Recently, Buddy upgraded their ATC SCM25As to ATC SCM45As. Both monitors are three-way designs, but the SCM45A adds as second 6.5-inch woofer for greater bass output. “I prefer not to work with subwoofers, but I wanted a little bit more bass from the monitoring system – not because it would affect my mixes so much, but because it would be more fun,” he said. “So when ATC released the SCM45A – which is essentially the monitor we had fallen in love with plus more bass – I jumped at the opportunity. They sound awesome, and they have so much output and low end that I got rid of my bigs. I have all the client-impressing-bigness I need from the SCM45As!” In addition, Miller is enchanted with the new ATC SH25-76S tweeters, which are now stock in the SCM45As. “The new tweeter is great!” he said. “The high end is beautiful and gives me even greater clarity and detail so I can get lost in the music.”
Transaudio Group – ATC US Distribution
ATC MONITORS SURROUND FAMED RECORDING ENGINEER MICHAEL BISHOP
“Seasoned veteran” is perhaps too weak a term to describe audio engineer Michael Bishop, whose passion for breathtaking audio capture has earned him ten Grammy wins in a career that has spanned nearly 45 years. He served as the Chief Recording Engineer for Telarc Records from 1988 up until 2008, when Concord Music Group closed Telarc’s in-house production team, and now partners in Five/Four Productions, Ltd. with two of his former Telarc colleagues, Robert Friedrich and Thomas Moore. A tireless advocate of cutting-edge technologies, Bishop was experimenting with 24-bit, 192kHz recording when most engineers were still coming to terms with 16-bit, 44.1kHz and has since moved on to record/release in DTS, SACD, and now DSD. Since 1999, Bishop has relied on ATC monitors to reveal all of the minute details that cumulatively add up to a world-class recording. Three of his most recent projects include the recording of two new pieces by Jonathan Leshnoff performed by Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, a traditional multi-track studio session with Eighth Blackbird, and the hip-hop/orchestral fusion of Pharrell William’s collaboration with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Bishop traveled to Atlanta’s Woodruff Symphony Hall – a space where he has recorded nearly one hundred times – to create the world-premier recording of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Symphony No. 2 and Zohar. Although he’s never been one to create “documentary-style” recordings, Bishop is riding the leading edge of the wave that is moving traditional classical recordings in the direction of movie soundtracks. “There’s a lot more activity on the engineer’s part,” he said. “The audience is expecting more detail and color, and modern composers are writing pieces that really require the microphone technique needed to capture all of the details, actions, and interactions.”
Amazingly, Bishop mixed all 28 microphones on stage down to a stereo mix live in the moment that he recorded using DSD technology at 11.2MHz, or 256 times greater than the benchmark CD rate (44.1kHz x 256 = 11,200kHz!!!). As always, he brought his ATC SCM150ASL monitors. “The ATCs play a crucial role,” he said. “I’m making all of my recording, mixing, and mastering decisions right there, and it is thus paramount that I have an accurate image of every detail. Moreover, the 150s have the size and presence to give the producer and conductor a true impression of the recorded piece, which closes the feedback loop and gets us to a winning take with all due speed.” At a session cost of $300 per minute for the orchestra, that’s obviously important. Direct-to-stereo mixes have always been a hallmark of Bishop’s work over the past few decades so that it’s second nature.
“With ATCs, I’m able to make, say, a one-inch change in the angle of a microphone and really hear its effect,” Bishop said. “Most monitors gloss over that kind of detail, but those Eighth Blackbird are the details that add up to a great recording. Moreover, every ATC loudspeaker, from the 20s to the 300s, provides that same consistent level of detail.” Indeed, Bishop tracked on ATC SCM25A nearfield monitors at IV Lab Studios in Chicago, where he recently recorded the Chicago-based avant-garde ensemble Eighth Blackbird performing pieces written by five different contemporary composers for their Hand-Eye release on Cedille Records. “Eighth Blackbird was closer to a modern studio session, with the backbones of songs laid down, and followed by overdubs and manipulations of the recorded material as dictated by the composers.”
Bishop and longtime collaborator and former Telarc producer Elaine Martone were under pressure to work quickly. “The detail revealed by the ATCs greatly aided our decision making process and enabled us to make good decisions on the spot. With any recording session, there are a million things to worry about and manage,” he said. “ATC’s consistency and truth remove one of the most potentially damaging variables – we’re confident that what we’re hearing is the truth. That puts Elaine in a comfortable place and lets her focus on the musical aspects. She doesn’t have to question what she’s hearing.”
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra commissioned pop artist Pharrell Williams to compose a piece that he called “Rules of the Game” that also involves dance, sculpture, and video. Bishop crammed into the pit with a 28-piece chamber orchestra augmented by a hip-hop rhythm section, triggered samples, and an unusually heavy dose of percussion instruments. Of the session’s 72 tracks, 24 were devoted to percussion! Arranger and composer David Campbell, who has done similar work with Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and others, led the effort.
“Working in the pit is the pits,” Bishop laughed. “We were jammed in there, and I had to mic everything very closely. Everyone was on in-ear monitors so that they could stay in time with pre-recorded samples. It was pretty uncomfortable.” Back in the friendlier environs of the Five/Four studio, Bishop is mixing the performance on his 5.1 set of ATC SCM150ASLs. “The turnaround is tight because the dance company needs the recording for performances without a live orchestra,” he explained. “As always, the ATCs make it easy to mix and know that my work will translate to any system whatsoever. Since moving to ATC seventeen years ago, I’ve never been surprised by what a mix sounds like on a different system.”
Five Four Productions
Michael Bishop AllMusic
Transaudio Group – ATC US Distribution
3FM DJ Paul Rabbering chooses ATC SCM45A Pro
“The main reason I choose ATC was the details these monitors reveal really have an impact on me. It’s listening 2.0. The first time I heard these monitors in my own studio, they brought tears to my eyes. The pureness of the SCM45A, combined with its punch is something I have never experienced before.”
Paul Rabbering, July 2016.
Most people know Paul Rabbering as a DJ, presenting a two hour daily show on the Dutch national radio station, 3FM. He’s also a well-known voice-over artist on Dutch television. If that doesn’t ring a bell, alongside two other DJ’s, Paul presented Serious Request 2015, a 6 day live radio show from a Glass House in the centre of the city Heerlen, raising over 7 million Euro to help children in war zones.
But this versatile media man has yet another, lesser known quality. Paul owns a private studio where he transforms his creative ideas into concrete music productions. Some weeks ago when Paul visited the Dutch ATC distributor Helios, he got infected with the, “ATC Bug”. Fortunately there is a cure for this illness. After the purchase of a pair of SCM45A Pro’s, the fever vanished like snow in the sun!
“I’m very happy with the service of Helios. Ulmt was extremely patient and gave me the opportunity to listen to various songs on many different monitor brands and models before making a decision. The SCM45A took away the last bit of doubt I might have had. I will never forget the moment when we played Deadmau5 – some chords at a rather hefty volume, the transparency, deep bass, speed, that big sound. I was totally convinced. It feels good having nothing left to desire.”
Paul Rabbering, July 2016.
Helios Pro Audio Solutions
Paul Rabbering – Facebook Paul Rabbering – Wiki Paul Rabbering – 3FM
ATC MONITORS TURN TO GAMING WITH STEVE KEMPSTER
Although he is still best known for his work on over 120 films such as National Treasure, Remember The Titans, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Armageddon, Twister, Bourne Supremacy, and Training Day, veteran recording and mix engineer Steve Kempster has, as of late, turned his prodigious talents to the burgeoning world of high-end audio for gaming. Indeed, this year composer Austin Wintory won the ASCAP Composers Choice Award for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and composer Gareth Coker won the Game Audio Network Guild Awards for Ori and the Blind Forest in the categories of Audio of the Year, Best Mix, Best Instrumental Track, and Rookie of the Year. Kempster mixed both scores at his private mix room, relying on his ATC SCM100ASL LCR midfield monitors and his ATC SCM25A LCR near-field monitors to ensure that the full emotional impact and intention of the composers’ works translate to gamers around the world, regardless of the sound systems they listen on.
“I’ve done most of Austin’s games and movies in the last few years,” Kempster said. “I helped him record the original ideas for Assassin’s Creed here in LA, and we were able to get very specific about the feeling and timbre we were after. He wanted a real tactile feeling so that the gamer would feel like the music was right there, not far off in the distance. Our early conversations and work held the project together, and so my mix was a natural extension of that.” Wintory introduced Kempster to Gareth Coker, which led to his work on Ori and the Blind Forest. Kempster is also working on new games with award-winning composer, Mikolai Stroinski.
Back in the late 1970s, Kempster got into the music business as a singer-songwriter. “I learned engineering so that I could get the right sound for the stories I wanted to tell,” he said. “I was inspired to do that because I found that if the engineer understood what I was up to, the song’s intention came through. But if he didn’t, it fell flat. It was an important place to get it right, so I trained myself on how to record and mix and worked with musicians on my own material. They said I had a better sound coming out of my garage than they were getting at the nice studios, so they started asking me to come work with them there. I think it’s helpful to keep the songwriter’s perspective as an engineer. I look at my job from a storytelling point of view first and foremost.”
Kempster explains that the biggest difference between mixing for records or movies and mixing for games is the inherent non-linearity of games. “Depending on the design of the game, the player will hear different things depending on their play,” he said. “If a player engages in a battle and loses, the game may reset to an earlier point. There can be a million different paths and outcomes, as compared to a record or movie with just a single linear arc. The music has to be composed so that it walks hand-in-hand with the action without becoming repetitious. It’s an amazing art that Wintory and Coker are adept at navigating. They build in different levels of the same cue. Those levels seamlessly transmute, and I have to be very careful that my mix works across all of those levels. That’s no easy trick.”
Kempster has two ATC setups: he has his LCR system of ATC SCM25As permanently installed in his home mix room and a large, but mobile LCR system of ATC SCM100ASLs paired with an ATC SCM0.1/15ASL subwoofer for use at different facilities around town. “My ATCs are the most important thing I own, and I own a lot of gear,” Kempster laughed. “With the 100s, I’m kind of like a mobile MASH unit. I’m pretty good at arranging them and working with the subwoofer’s cutoff and volume to get a nice even response. I have a few pieces of music that I listen to that help me calibrate things. Once they sound right, I know whatever I record or mix will translate.”
“All mixing is like sculpting,” he continued.” I chip away and remove the things I don’t want until I hear what I want to hear. With all the levels of a game’s mix, the details can add up in unexpected ways, and I rely on my ATC’s incredible clarity to alert me to any potential issues. When I have the mix right, the imaging on the ATCs is breathtaking and the mix sounds correct across all the volume levels. By relying on ATCs, my mixes translate to postproduction and consumer systems. If I couldn’t get that right, someone later in the production chain would have to do it for me. It’s great that there are talented people who can do that, but I certainly don’t want to be the engineer whose mix needs saving! Career longevity doesn’t come out of that equation!” (Spoken by an engineer who has been delivering spot on mixes for nearly forty years…).
Photo © 2016 Larry Mah
Steve Kempster IMDb
Transaudio Group (ATC U.S. Professional Product Distribution)