Air Studios Mastering Upgrade Monitoring with ATC P2 Pro Power Amps
“We felt it was worth exploring some Class A/B amp options, but, having tried several, we weren’t impressed… until we came across the ATC P2 PROs. Now there’s a more musical bottom end, and this extra dimension has made things more enjoyable to listen to.” – AIR Studios Mastering engineer, John Webber, 2018.ATC is proud to announce that AIR Studios Mastering (UK) — a division of the world-famous AIR Studios started by Beatles producing genius George Martin and specialising in analogue and digital mastering — has literally and figuratively amplified its full-range, ‘no expense spared’ speaker monitoring system, thanks to two ATC P2 PRO Dual Mono Power Amplifier additions…
John Webber at Air Studios Mastering. Photography by Adam Crowe. www.adamcrowe.net
According to AIR Studios Mastering’s wisely-worded website: Professional audio mastering is the last part of the sound production process where recordings are given a final gloss. Our role is to bring multiple songs together within a project, creating consistency across different formats and ensuring greatest possible impact when played on different systems. Using a full-range speaker monitoring system in an acoustically treated room, our experienced ear will polish your music for release. It’s a creative and technical process. No two tracks are the same; each track is treated individually, and this requires ever-changing and well-maintained solutions to ensure the best results. All of which is made possible at AIR Studios Mastering.
Making all that perfectly possible at AIR Studios Mastering comes courtesy of a killer combination of top-tier creative technical talent with three pairs of experienced ears between them. Award winning mastering engineer, John Webber who cut Air’s first ever direct to disc sessions and has re-mastered many classic albums, “often from the original analogue sources” as well as working with releases for a wide range of notable film and TV scores. Cicely Balston, who joined from Gearbox records and the semi-retired Ray Staff (hit after hit spanning all genres of music since starting out at London’s Trident Studios in 1970).
Being part of (the dearly departed) George Martin’s studio legacy clearly comes with some serious fringe benefits. Beautifully built, the “…one fully-kitted mastering suite…” in which John Webber now spends most of his time — now that Ray Staff “…comes in occasionally on a freelance/consultation basis…” — boasts a full-range, ‘no-expense spared’ monitoring system. Said system was developed in surroundings akin to Lockheed’s secretive ‘Skunk Works’ advanced aircraft facility with a purchase price skyrocketing towards a lofty six-figure sum! “The TAD Reference One’s dual-concentric driver was partly developed here at AIR, and they were very kindly gifted to us by Pioneer when the room was conceived,” clarifies their principal practitioner.
Pioneer’s kindness notwithstanding, there is routinely room for improvement in most mastering studio setups — even one as well specced as AIR Studios’. “Originally Class-D amps were chosen for our speakers, but we always felt they were a little hard-sounding and lacking in musicality,” maintains John Webber. “We felt it was worth exploring some Class A/B amp options, but, having tried several, we weren’t impressed… until we came across the ATC P2 PROs.”
Perhaps this is hardly surprising since the P2 PRO power amp is 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. “The TADs are potentially a tough load with dual 10-inch bass drivers to control, and then there’s the passive crossover network and 4-ohm impedance to consider,” continues John Webber. “They’re designed to be very responsive and linear, so, speculatively, we were looking for something that provided a balance between fast, focused, and sweet.”
So sweet it is that those two P2 PRO power amp additions at AIR Studios Mastering proved to be a perfect pairing. “The sound is still quite lively and true, but now there’s a more musical bottom end, and this extra dimension has made things more enjoyable to listen to,” trumpets John Webber. “Two P2 PROs in a bi-amped configuration certainly sound different to just using one and took a little time getting used to, but I have always found brutally honest and revealing monitors to be best for my work because there’s little in the way of flattery going on and I generally find that masters translate better in the outside world.”
While original soundtrack albums for vinyl, CD, and download by Jed Jurzel (Alien Covenant), Murray Gold (Dr. Who) and Clint Mansell (Loving Vincent) alongside “…a ten-LP
boxset of Ornette Coleman’s Atlantic-era releases and reissues for George Michael, Chris Rea and many others….” have already been benefiting from P2 PRO-amplified mastering by John Webber, his brutal honesty shines forth in his closing comments: “If I was to describe the ‘sound’ of the amps in general, I would say they’re balanced, open, and uninhibited. We’re achieving a naturally unveiled soundstage, clean top end, and extended — but never over-egged — extension at the bottom end. I feel like P2 PROs provide excellent value for money… for us, they definitely came out on top when compared with similarly priced competitors.”
ATC P2 Pro
Air Studios Mastering
PRODUCER/ENGINEER/SONGWRITER/GUITARIST MAT MITCHELL WORKS FASTER WITH ATC
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 2018: Twenty-five years into his career, Mat Mitchell has a lot going on, little of which fits into tidy job descriptions. He’s a producer and an all-things tech having toured the world on behalf of Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and Katy Perry. He’s also the lead guitarist and producer for Tool and A Perfect Circle front man Maynard James Keenan’s band, Puscifer. When not on the road, Mitchell works out of his private studio space in north Hollywood centered on an SSL 6000E/G+ console with Apogee Symphony II converters and tons of fabulous outboard gear. His most recent work is with The Beta Machine, the up-and-coming project of A Perfect Circle’s Matt McJunkins and Jeff Friedl. Mitchell recorded the band’s EP, “All This Time,” and is just about to finish producing, recording, and mixing the band’s debut full-length. Before doing so, however, Mitchell ditched his NS-10s for a new pair of ATC SCM45A monitors.
“I’m pretty old school, and I used NS-10s forever,” Mitchell said. “I always had good results because I knew how to work with them, but recently I was listening to some of my mixes in a friend’s mastering room. It was easy to hear things that I had to really focus on to hear in my studio, and I thought, ‘you guys are having a whole different experience!”. Inspired by the thought of having that same experience on a daily basis, Mitchell arranged a demo with Troy Manning at Vintage King Audio, Los Angeles.
“We started out with a pair of ATC SCM25As, which sounded fantastic,” Mitchell said. “Then I wanted to try some other monitors just to get a sense of what’s out there. Sometimes a particular manufacturer initially made me think, ‘that sounds great!’ but once I listened closer to songs I was familiar with, I could tell that things were missing or exaggerated. We tried some of this and some of that, and then we bumped up to the next level speakers. I heard some other manufacturers, and then Troy put on the ATC SCM45As. I was like, ‘ok, we’re done here!’ To my ears, they were very familiar and also very honest.”
Once they were back at his studio, Mitchell had fun playing songs he knew well both alone and with some close friends. “I had a pretty good idea of which songs had mixes I considered were really perfect, and that came through on the ATCs,” he said. “But I also detected problems that I had never heard before in some other songs. On my old monitors, they all sounded like ‘great mixes.’ Now I could discern different levels of ‘great!’ The differences were obvious.”
Mitchell completed the mixes for all eleven songs of The Beta Machine’s forthcoming debut full-length on his new ATC SCM45As. “I think when it’s all said and done, I’m getting to the same place I used to get to, but it’s so much easier and faster,” he said. “I’m reacting to the mix and making choices much more quickly. Any problems are instantly apparent – it’s like, ‘oh, that’s out of phase’ or ‘that needs to come down 1.5dB.’ Plus, it’s more exciting. Once I have things is a good place, it’s fun to turn it up because the ATC’s sound so great! The imaging is wide and precise. And of course, as advertised, the ATCs translate perfectly. Every mix sounds just right on my home stereo, in my car, on my phone, and anywhere.”
Mat Mitchell’s Website
ATC SCM45A Pro Webpage
Mastering engineer extraordinaire Barry Grint gets ATC P2 PRO in on the Alchemy act.
“I was very happy with my monitor speakers, but they seemed to lack bass extension; Matt Colton has active ATC SCM150 ASL PROs in his room, so I thought that an ATC amp might give me more bass… the difference wasn’t subtle with the P2 PRO.”
– Alchemy Mastering Founder & Director Barry Grint, 2017.
LONDON, UK: specialist British loudspeaker drive unit and complete sound reproduction system manufacturer ATC is proud to announce that mastering engineer extraordinaire Barry ‘Bazza’ Grint has acquired a 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 — to enhance the fullrange monitoring system in his room at Alchemy Mastering, one of the world’s leading lights in half-speed and pure analogue vinyl mastering…
Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering with ATC P2 Pro Power Amp
Mastering engineer extraordinaire Barry Grint’s ‘lifelong’ love affair with The Dark Art Of Audio Mastering — to paraphrase the appropriate website wording for Alchemy Mastering (www.alchemymastering.com), the company he founded in 1998, having previously worked at Abbey Road, Porky’s Mastering, Tape One, and the legendary Trident Studios — led him to a life less ordinary that has been truly extraordinary. “I always wanted to work in a recording studio, but getting in has always been difficult,” he notes. “I had many jobs beforehand, but eventually I started as a tea boy at Trident Studios. Seeing first-hand what being a studio engineer actually entailed, I felt that it wasn’t quite right for me. On the third floor there was disc cutting — vinyl and cassette being the only formats at the time. I immediately felt at home, starting in the tape and cassette copy room, before moving up to vinyl mastering in 1984.”
The bright-eared Barry Grint was quick off the mark in making his mastering mark. 1984 alone saw his mastering mojo working wonderfully on classic vinyl singles for Duran Duran (‘The Wilds Boys’), Foreigner (‘I Want To Know What Love Is’), Madonna (‘Like A Virgin’), Van Halen (‘Jump’), and ZZ Top (‘Gimme All Your Lovin’’). Thereafter, things went seriously stratospheric as Barry Grint went on to work with a roll call of rock and pop greats such as Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Oasis, Prince, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, to list but a few notable names. Speaking of names, the master(ing) craftsman identified his vinyl work by etching ‘Bazza’ in the run out-groove with various incarnations including Bazza @ Abbey Road, Bazza @ Tape One, Bazza @ Porky’s putting in an appearance throughout the years.
Yet Barry Grint has witnessed a lot of industry changes — technological or otherwise — in a celebrated career spanning five distinctive decades. Given his mastering pedigree, perhaps it was inevitable that he would one day become a master of his own destiny at Alchemy Mastering in Soho, which went on to become one of the UK’s foremost mastering facilities before leasing issues at its ‘high-flying’ Centre Point office tower London location left its founder rethinking and, ultimately, relocating somewhat closer to terra firma. Its current location in an elegant West London mews houses three acoustically-tuned studios with natural daylight designed by the three ‘Alchemists’ — Barry Grint and fellow Directors Matt Colton and Phil Kinrade — themselves, each equipped with full-range monitoring systems and a wide range of vintage and cutting-edge high-end analogue and digital hardware and software processors, perfect for pursuing their sought-after craft. “We all react to what’s coming out of the speakers, and we make our judgements based on how that sounds in the room,” Matt Colton claimed, soon after receiving the coveted Music Producers Guild Mastering Engineer of the Year award in 2013.
As a full member, Barry Grint is no stranger to the MPG (Music Producers Guild) himself, representing them when working with the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) to create a standard for embedding the ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) within BWF (Broadcast Wave Format) audio, adopted by the main manufacturers of mastering software internationally. But back in the mastering hot seat within Mastering Two — Barry Grint’s mastering studio for digital, CD, and vinyl mastering at Alchemy Mastering — things get more personal. “The choice of equipment is a very personal thing,” its owner-occupier opines. “I was very happy with my monitor speakers, but they seemed to lack bass extension; Matt Colton has active ATC SCM150 ASL PROs in his room, so I thought that an ATC amp might give me more bass.”
Cue delivery of a 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 — on trial. The result? “The bass extension was great, but there was also a noticeable improvement overall — a smoothness that gave improved detail and clarity,” continues the seriously impressed Barry Grint. “The difference wasn’t subtle with the P2 PRO. I called Ben Lilly, Technical Sales Manager at ATC, and told him he couldn’t have the demo unit back until he had sent me the one I bought!”
Beneficiaries of this latest acquisition already encompasses a lengthening list of current and established artists alike, as Barry Grint reveals: “Remastering Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds, The Stranglers, Declan McKenna, Tom Odell, Sean Paul, Roger Waters; vinyl mastering for All Tvvins, Gorillaz, Laura Mvula, Little Mix, Radiohead, Rag’n’Bone Man, The Libertines, The Rolling Stones…”
So, yes, Barry Grint has witnessed a lot of industry changes in a celebrated career spanning five distinctive decades — not least the putative passing of vinyl into the annals of reproductive audio history only for it to triumphantly return relatively recently, as evidenced by Alchemy Mastering making a name for itself as one of the world’s leading lights in half-speed and pure analogue vinyl mastering: “When I started, people recorded in recording studios and mobile studios were big articulated lorries loaded with massive Neve, Cadac, or Trident desks and multitrack tape machines. Today, digital recording has made available amazing recording spaces. Sometimes this means that for some projects the mastering room is the only controlled listening environment, one where a good speaker/amp combination is vital. This is why we went with ATC.”
ATC P2 Pro Dual-Mono Power Amp
ATC P2 Dual-Mono Power Amp
SCM12 Pro & P1 Pro Review by Sound on Sound Magazine
Phil Ward, writing for Sound on Sound magazine, is the latest reviewer to discover the qualities that make ATC monitors and amplifiers invaluable tools in the studio environment. Here are just a few snippets of his detailed and comprehensive review.
“Finding a path through all the conflicting constraints when designing a monitor is akin to making the pieces of a jigsaw fit together, and when you get it right, everything snaps into focus. The SCM12 Pro had that from the very start.”
“The foundation of the SCM12 Pro is its low-frequency performance: typically closed-box with its lack of overhang and reassuring security of pitch, whatever the volume level, but with the added quality that comes from driver engineering that’s a level or two above run-of-the-mill and can play surprisingly loud.”
“As you can probably tell, I really like the SCM12 Pro. I think it’s a genuinely fine nearfield monitor, and given the relatively low price for the level of engineering involved, it is something of a bargain.”
Phil Ward, Sound on Sound Magazine, September 2017.
You can read the review in full on the Sound on Sound Website where you can also subscribe to both print and digital versions of the magazine.
SCM12 Pro Review by Audio Media International
BBC engineer, Alistair McGhee has reviewed the ATC SCM12 Pro for Audio Media International magazine.
Alistair concludes, “I have been massively impressed by the SCM 12 Pro – defying mere fashion it’s an evolutionary product from a firm that refuses to compromise engineering decisions for marketing acceptability. They are professional tools designed for a working studio environment. The finish is utilitarian but the sound extraordinary, and if you need compact monitors that tell the unvarnished truth about your audio, start here.”
To read the review in full please visit the Audio Media International website.
IT’S ATC MONITORING FOR ACCLAIMED PRODUCER AND MIX ENGINEER RICH COSTEY
Rich Costey is the Grammy Award-winning producer and mix engineer behind a massive discography of consequential indie/alternative albums spanning the last several decades. He is closely associated with Audioslave, Biffy Clyro, Bloc Party, Foo Fighters, Foster the People, Franz Ferdinand, Mastodon, Mew, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Rage Against the Machine, Santigold, and The Mars Volta, among many, many others. Costey’s career began with the legendary Phillip Glass at his Looking Glass Studios, but really took off when producer Rick Ruben recognized his talents. While striving to meet Ruben’s exacting expectations, Costey first recognized how well ATC monitors allowed him to build mixes that translated. He used ATCs for years before moving to New York City, where strange currents pulled him away from ATCs. After returning to Los Angeles two years ago Costey learned that ATC had recently added to its already impressive line with a model that would take care of his needs. Costey has been mixing on the ATC SCM45A Pro’s ever since. “It’s like returning home,” he said.
Costey’s sublime mixing on Fiona Apple’s platinum album When the Pawn… attracted the attention of Ruben in 1999, who then hired Costey to mix Audioslave’s self-titled debut in 2002. “Rick wasn’t coming into the studio,” Costey recalled. “Instead, I brought mixes to his home, and he listened back on his library’s hi-fi. He always listened at extreme volumes, and my mixes never sounded the same as they did in the studio. It was frustrating, so I hunted around for monitors that would allow me to predict the mixes on Rick’s system. Nothing worked until I tried the ATC SCM20PSL passive near-fields. I could listen to those at normal mixing volumes and still hear the details that Rick was going to hear on his system.” Costey later upgraded to the ATC SCM20ASL Pro active monitors and turned out a body of work that includes, Muse’s Absolution, Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better, Weezer’s Make Believe, and Foo Fighters’ Pretender. (Again, among so, so many others.)
“I feel like everybody has different ears, and different monitors work for different people,” Costey said. “Monitor choice is deeply personal. As far as I’m concerned, I want something that is highly critical of the source material and something that translates reliably. The worst feeling is getting a good mix in the studio and hearing it fall apart in the car! Also, some monitors are more ‘fun’ than others, and I’ve never thought of ATC’s as particularly ‘fun.’ But that’s not why I use them. I use ATCs because they allow me to reliably work without having to second-guess my choices or go back to fix mistakes. ATCs make me more successful.”
That said, things got complicated for Costey when he relocated to New York City. “None of the studios I worked at had decent mains, and the 20s by themselves didn’t give me enough low end to work with,” he said. Through quirks of availability and friendships, Costey journeyed for many years from one monitor manufacturer to the next, never fully satisfied with what he was hearing. When he moved back to Los Angeles two years ago, Costey learned that the ATC line had grown to include mid-field loudspeakers that could give him the fidelity and bass response that he needed. “The ATC SCM45A Pros are really the perfect monitor,” he said. “The crossover is super smooth from top to bottom, and my mixes always translate perfectly.”
Costey recently completed the new Haim album using his ATC SCM45A Pros. “It was a really interesting process because the band and the producer really reflected on the songs as the mixes developed,” he said. “Then they’d record new ideas and bring them in for additional mixing. The content changed while I mixed it! It was challenging, but also a ton of fun.” Costey also appreciates that his ATCs can really “crank” when needed without really affecting the sound of the mix. “That’s useful when I’m wearing my producer hat and want to really inspire the band,” he said. “The ATCs really hang together and present an honest picture at any volume.”
ATC SCM45A Pro Product Page
Rich Costey’s Website
JOHN RODD SCORES BIG TIME WITH ATC SCM150s FOR HIT MOVIE GET OUT AND THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER’S HEROES AND LEGENDS
Renowned music recording, mixing, and mastering engineer John Rodd works on a wide variety of projects from blockbuster movies to television (Breaking Bad) to video games (World of Warcraft, Overwatch, EA Star Wars: Battlefront, Call of Duty: Black Ops II). Rodd’s versatility as an engineer is showcased on a diverse range of projects, including huge orchestral scores, rock, electronica, jazz, and classical. His recent work includes the score albums for Better Call Saul and Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and the chart-topping #1 classical album Stars Are Rising for soprano Joanna Forest.
Rodd had to bring all of his skills to bear, along with the fatigue-free and translation-assured performance of his LCR set of ATC SCM150ASL three-way monitors, to mix composer Michael Abels’ eclectic film score for the hit social thriller Get Out and composer Penka Kouneva’s inspiring score for NASA’s unique Heroes and Legends 4-D experience at the Kennedy Space Center.
Working with Abels was a great experience for Rodd. He noted that “Michael’s score covered a ton of ground – live orchestra, Swahili group vocals, diverse percussion, solo cello, harp, and unique synth sounds. It’s really far from a traditional thriller score, and Michael deserves all the praise he’s received for writing something that works so well with the movie.” But working with a new film director meant working within budgetary constraints. This meant a very tight schedule to mix the movie’s 45 eclectic score cues. Rodd had to deliver ten separate 5.1 score stem mixes, the full 5.1 score mix, and a stereo fold-down for the soundtrack album, thus delivering a 68 audio track wide score mix for every piece of music!
“I’ve had the privilege of recording and mixing music all over the world at some of the greatest studios on their high-end monitoring systems,” Rodd said. “Given that perspective, I’m grateful to have the brutal honesty of the ATC monitors at my own studio, Clearstory Sound. They have tremendous definition and clarity across the entire range, and they really allow me to hear what’s going on so that I can make sure no elements are masking other important elements. My goal is to give each instrument its own sonic space in terms of frequency, panning, fader moves, and overall placement, while having them all work together at the same time. If something is harsh or woofy or boxy, I know it right away. I’m not second-guessing, ever. The ATCs allow me to work very quickly and confidently, which was a huge asset given the time constraints for Get Out.”
Those long days held the potential for ear fatigue, but Rodd claims the ATCs protect him from that pitfall as well: “It seems like a lot of other loudspeaker manufacturers turn up the brightness to give you detail, and I think that can get fatiguing. The ATCs, however, give me tons of detail without the top-end hype, which allows me to put in really long days of consistently solid work.” When mixing 5.1, Rodd uses his three ATC SCM150ASLs for a left-center-right system together with a revolving cast of surround speakers depending on the nature of the project.
Rodd’s other recent project, Penka Kouneva’s score for the Heroes and Legends 4-D experience at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, offered up a different sort of challenge than the traditional film score. The experience takes visitors through the history of the space program in a way that captures and conveys the excitement and emotion of that history. In addition to the immersive visuals on giant, curved screens and audio that can literally shake visitors to their core, the experience includes holograms, wind effects, scent effects, and other surprising 4-D elements spread across numerous theaters.
For Rodd, “It was a very complex mix due to the elaborate nature of Penka’s awesome hybrid score. It used a massive live orchestra along with many live solos, tons of synths, guitars, percussion, pads, arpeggiators, drums, and sub-bass musical effects. She really captured the spirit of the experience and gave it a timeless yet modern theatrical feel. I leaned heavily on my ATCs to let me know when things were right. I knew that if my mix sounded fantastic on the ATCs, it would sound the same in NASA’s theaters.”
ATC Announce ProLyd AS official Norwegian Professional Distributor
2nd May 2017, Stroud, UK:
With immediate effect, ATC is very pleased to announce the appointment of ProLyd AS. as their official professional product distributor for Norway. ProLyd will handle ATC’s full professional product line from the smallest SCM12 Pro nearfield monitor through to the largest SCM300ASL Pro main monitor and including ATC’s range of professional electronics.
“It gives us great pleasure to appoint ProLyd as our new distributor for the Norwegian market,” states, Ben Lilly, ATC Sales Manager, “their experience, technical ability and customer base was an outstanding fit for ATC and we look forward to working with them.”
Established in 1996, ProLyd has grown to become one of the leading companies for the design, supply and installation of professional audio equipment in Norway. Operating from their base in Oslo, ProLyd supply clients in a wide range of categories including music recording & production, postproduction, broadcast, live sound and education.
ProLyd AS. Mølleparken 4, 0459 OSLO
T: +47 23 19 96 00
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!”