NAMM SPECIAL: EXPERIENCE DOLBY ATMOS MUSIC WITH TRANSAUDIO & ATC
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 2020: TransAudio Group, U.S. distributor of ATC and a full line of high-end professional recording equipment, will show a Dolby Atmos Music playback system at Winter NAMM 2020 in Booth #14914. This will be a smaller version of its wildly successful Summer NAMM 2019 Dolby Atmos Music demo held at Blackbird Studios, Nashville. Dolby Atmos Music is a next-generation immersive audio experience that takes music far beyond traditional “surround” that includes 3-D spatial information to bring the listener into the music itself. TransAudio Group has supplied Dolby with ATC loudspeakers applied to Atmos for its San Francisco Market Street headquarters and other multi-channel Dolby executive listening rooms. Now TransAudio will set up an all ATC monitor system at NAMM 2020 for visitors to experience Dolby Atmos Music for the first time. With support from Universal Music Group, Netflix, Amazon, and others, Atmos Music is poised to create a new standard in music playback for listeners around the world. The all ATC 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos Music system at Winter NAMM will also use a new, in-development product from Latch Lake Music, a free-standing, high speaker stand to support the eight to nine foot “height” speakers. This system is designed for Atmos Music playback, suitable for mixing, production, or a very high-end personal listening system.
In addition to the Dolby Atmos demo, TransAudio Group will also have a traditional stereo setup demonstrating ATC SCM25A and SCM45A monitors.
AirHush acoustic isolation panels will form the 350 square-foot demo room with nine-foot walls, and TransAudio Group will take groups of attendees in for a prepared demo experience. Three ATC SCM110ASL monitors will comprise the front LCR channels, four ATC SCM25A monitors will comprise the side/surround channels, and four ATC SCM12i monitors will comprise the overhead height channels. Two ATC SCM0.1/15SL 15-inch subwoofers will handle the LFE channel. One of the current challenges in a Dolby Atmos or other multichannel music production system is that the overhead height speakers need to be installed or mounted. To overcome this, TransAudio Group worked with Latch Lake to develop a prototype free-standing speaker stand for the overhead height channel SCM12i speakers.
“Very few people have had a chance to hear music specifically mixed for Dolby Atmos or other multi-channel immersive formats, much less at the high resolution we achieve with ATC monitors,” said Brad Lunde, founder and president of TransAudio Group. “We’re excited to provide this new and unique experience for visitors at NAMM, and we’re pleased that the setup will simultaneously demo AirHush sound isolation technology and portable, non-permanent ways of building multichannel systems using Latch Lake technology. Our ability to provide these smaller non-permanent systems will allow professionals and artists to work in Atmos and other formats much more easily than before.”
Demos at NAMM will be held on a first come, first serve basis.
SIX-TIME GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING MIX ENGINEER KEN “DURO” IFILL SWITCHES TO ATC SCM45A NEARFIELD MONITORS
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 2019: For over 25 years, Ken “Duro” Ifill has been mixing the living history of urban hip-hop and R&B. His client list includes Jay-Z, NAS, Pharrell, Erykah Badu, Will Smith, Beastie Boys, Usher, and on and on, and through a singular focus on making everything he works on as cool as possible, he has won six Grammy Awards. These days, Duro splits his time between the studio, where he still engages his first and enduring passion (mixing!) and Senior VP of A&R at Republic/Universal Records. After twenty years on the same monitors and two years in dissatisfied flux, Duro recently upgraded to ATC SCM45A three-way nearfield monitors.
“I discovered ATC working at Q-Tip’s studio (A Tribe Called Quest),” Duro explained. “He had a pair of soffit-mounted ATC SCM150ASL Pros and some other well-respected nearfields. The first thing I fell in love with on his ATCs was the imaging. As a mix engineer, I don’t think of things as just left or right. I think in three dimensions, which makes imaging especially important. I’ll put things, say, to the left-rear or center-up. Even beyond that, I’m thinking in actual depth. Say, for example, is something three feet back on the left or is it six feet back? I quickly stopped using Q-Tip’s nearfields entirely and just mixed everything on the ATCs. I loved how the volume didn’t affect the mix. I could mix quiet or loud and still have the same stable relationships and all the bass information. The top end was smooth and not at all fatiguing. It was a really enjoyable and productive mixing experience.”
Around the same time, Duro was acquainting himself with a new set of nearfields in his own studio that he had committed to before the Q-Tip ATC experience. They came after two decades on the same monitors. “I was having reliability issues with my new nearfields, but because I had made a pretty sizable investment in them, I wasn’t ready to abandon ship,” Duro said. “Then I went back to Q-Tip’s studio and he had upgraded to the biggest monitors that ATC makes – soffit-mounted mains with dual 15s (ATC SCM300ASL Pros)! I said, ‘man, you must really love these things!’ When I got back to my studio and still had the same unresolved reliability issues, I said forget it. I decided to just get the ATCs that I was wanting.”
Based on the size of the nearfields he has always preferred mixing on, Duro went with the ATC SCM45A three-way monitors, which use two 6.5-inch low frequency drivers, a three-inch soft dome mid-frequency driver, and a one-inch high-frequency driver. Although he has only had them for a short time, Duro already completed Kiana Ledé EP Myself using the ATC SCM45As. “The translation on the ATCs is great,” he said. “But even beyond the balance between the instruments, the more nuanced texture of the sounds translates. The same way that two vocalists can hit the same note and still sound different… it’s kind of analogous to what I’m talking about.” That translation of texture allows Duro to reliably mix not just for balance, but also for the emotional edge that separates a good mix from a fantastic mix. Thoroughly pleased, Duro is convinced he now has the monitors that will see him through the decades to come. A huge thanks go out to Dan Physics at Alto Music in New York who was instrumental in his quest to acquire the ATCs.
IN-DEMAND RECORDING AND MIXING ENGINEER MICHAEL ASHBY USES ATC SCM25A TO MAKE RISKY MOVES WITH CONFIDENCE
Michael Ashby is a young recording and mix engineer with an incredible work ethic who has taken the blessing of great sonic instincts and leveraged it with dedicated study at New York City’s SAE Institute. After just a decade behind the console, Ashby has five Platinum albums to his name, was twice nominated for a Grammy Award, and was nominated for “Recording Engineer of the Year” by the Pensado’s Place Academy. His highest-profile clients include Cardi B, Latoya Jackson, Fetty Wap, Zoey Dollar, and Offset, but Ashby’s passion for music and aptitude for recording and mixing have earned him a client list that numbers four-hundred strong. Ashby operates out of his own Krematorium Studios in New York City, where he recently upgraded to a pair of SCM25A Pro compact three-way monitors. The new ATCs let him make risky moves with confidence and create mixes that reliably translate whether he’s mixing alone at a reasonable volume or in a room full of excited clients at a loud (i.e. less-than-reasonable) volume.
“I started out as a drummer, but I was lucky enough to become an audio engineer before I went deaf,” Ashby joked. Although he’s tremendously passionate about music, he is also refreshingly humble: “I kind of fell into engineering. It wasn’t something that I initially decided. People liked what I was doing, so I just kept doing it.” That said, once Ashby knew that engineering spoke to his heart, he had the good sense to formally train up and continued to work while taking classes at SAE Institute. Great work and excellent referrals kept his existing clients and organically networked him with new clients, many of whom were already big names in the music industry. “Things just got more and more serious over the years,” he reflected.
With that growing seriousness and Ashby’s own deepening knowledge and experience, he figured it was time to elevate his monitoring situation. “I wanted to listen and evaluate using the same tools that my favorite mix engineers use,” he said. “I’m inspired by Jaycen Joshua [Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Rihanna, etc.], and he recently made the switch to ATCs. In addition, I saw a pair of ATCs in the room of Craig Bauer [Kayne West, Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, etc.], and I also have a deep respect for his work. So, there I was, seeing different styles of music, different engineers, and the same monitor company. I looked into ATC and learned what a lot of other highly-respected engineers were saying about ATC’s midrange clarity and translation.”
Now several months in, Ashby is more than satisfied with the upgrade. “I can use the ATCs to be super surgical or I can use them to bump,” he said. “I can listen in depth by myself, but sometimes I’m forced to do a rough mix when the room is filled with people. The ATCs let me satisfy the client while still giving me the clarity and balance I need to deliver an effective mix. I think it’s important to point out that they aren’t dangerously flat-sounding. They’re really fun to listen to, but everything I do still translates. For monitors to sound great and bump in the room but still translate perfectly outside the room… that’s everything!”
Michael Ashby Website
NASHVILLE’S BLACKBIRD STUDIO MAKES NO SMALL PLANS: BUILDS OUT FOR DOLBY ATMOS MUSIC WITH 15 ATC MONITORS, 6 ATC SUBWOOFERS
Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee is not known for half-measures. “At Blackbird, the bar is extremely high,” noted John McBride, Blackbird’s founder, owner and visionary. “We do everything we can to create a setting where artists and engineers are equipped and inspired to create music that can change the world.” In that spirit, Blackbird is embracing Dolby Atmos Music, a fully-immersive, next-generation multi-channel playback system that has the backing of Universal, Netflix, Amazon, and other major content providers. Blackbird Studio C, a large control room with incredible diffusion designed by George Massenburg, now contains three ATC SCM300ASL Pro monitors in front, six ATC SCM100ASL Pro monitors on the sides and rear, six ATC SCM100ASL Pro monitors overhead, and six ATC SCM0.1/15ASL Pro subwoofers. With less than a month’s notice, ATC built and delivered the speakers and subwoofers.
“Immersive audio is the future of the industry,” McBride continued. “It’s an incredible experience, and once you start listening in Dolby Atmos Music, it’s hard to go back to stereo! For artists and engineers, the format opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities. There are consumer electronics manufacturers building sound bars to give listeners Dolby Atmos in their living rooms, engineers are hard at work perfecting headphones that will deliver Dolby Atmos, Universal has already committed to mixing several thousand songs in Dolby Atmos Music, and content providers such as Netflix and Amazon are incorporating the format into their new material. Of course, the potential for gaming and virtual reality is astounding. All in all, the industry has a lot of momentum behind Dolby Atmos Music, and I’m thrilled to have Blackbird at the forefront of music creation for the format.”
Initially introduced in 2012, the Dolby Atmos specification accommodates traditional 7.1 surround sound speakers but then goes far beyond. It allows specific placement of sounds at precise locations along the sides and back, includes overhead loudspeakers, and permits flexible scaling of playback system size to include up to 128 discrete loudspeaker or subwoofer channels. “The first thing people notice about a Dolby Atmos system is the addition of the overhead speakers,” said Zach Winterfeld, western regional sales manager with TransAudio Group and part of the team that installed and tuned the new system at Blackbird. “Just as the experience of going from mono to stereo or from stereo to surround opens things up, the overhead speakers add a whole new dimension. Under the hood, the biggest difference is the use of ‘objects’ that allow the engineer to specify where in the room a sound should localize to. The Dolby Atmos playback engine decodes each object’s location and places it there given the particular arrangement of loudspeakers in a given room. Two rooms can have very different loudspeaker setups, and the Dolby Atmos processing will localize a given ‘object’ to the same place in both rooms.”
Blackbird Studio C already had a stereo pair of ATC SCM300ASL Pro three-way monitors, and ATC mains and near-fields are a fixture in the other studios at Blackbird. “For me at least, the higher the quality of playback, the more emotional music becomes,” McBride said. “I’ve always loved ATC, and we’ve been using ATC monitors at Blackbird since we opened up in 2002. I trust ATC monitors completely, and I love the people behind the product – they do incredible work with integrity and with a deep respect for music. Sitting in the middle of fifteen large-format ATC monitors and six ATC subwoofers is a life-changing experience!”
Ben Lilly, technical sales manager with ATC and another member of the team that installed and tuned the new system at Blackbird, added, “Our monitors offer very low listening fatigue. This is important in all types of monitoring environments, but I feel it is even more important with the high channel count and higher than average sound pressure levels that audio professionals will experience in an Atmos mix environment. Also, the wide, even dispersion pattern of ATC’s monitors help to achieve a larger ‘sweet spot’, a greater feeling of space, and solid imaging within the immersive mix environment.”
Lilly continued, “Blackbird Studio C was already equipped with stereo ATC SCM300ASL Pros so adding a matching center was a natural choice. The ‘base’ specification for Dolby Atmos music systems is 7.1.4 (7.1 plus four overhead ‘top’ speakers), but because Studio C is larger than average, the surround speaker count was increased by four to make the system 9.1.6. The choice of surrounds speaker model and the number of subs was based on the room size, listening distance, and target SPLs at the listening position. Dolby’s DART tool helped select suitable monitors based on the room and acoustic data input into the tool.” Four of the ATC SCM0.1/15ASL subwoofers are positioned along the front of the room and two are positioned on the side walls closer to the back, as determined by a judicious combination of measurement and expert opinion.
“John [McBride] called me to describe a full ATC Dolby Atmos room at Blackbird, and I was impressed by his vision and also by the amount of gear it would require,” recalled Brad Lunde, founder and president of TransAudio Group. “Then he said he wanted it all delivered in two weeks to allow a week of installation ahead of a critical deadline. I love John, but I said, ‘you’re out of your mind, there’s no way!’ But of course I called ATC’s UK manufacturing facility and asked if it would be possible to deliver six flyable SCM100ASL Pros, six stand-mounted versions, a single center SCM300ASL Pro, and six subwoofers. They would have to work miracles to get them all built, but they made it happen!”
“Given how few Dolby Atmos mixing rooms exist in the world and given John’s very high standards, it was strategically important to do an outstanding job, with plenty of insurance against any conceivable problem,” Lunde noted. In addition to Zach Winterfeld, who has deep experience with precision measurement systems, TransAudio Group sent Tony Marra, who operates the TransAudio Group in-house repair shop, to Nashville for installation and tuning knowing that between the two, they had the wherewithal to diagnose and repair anything that might need it. ATC sent Ben Lilly, who worked closely with the TransAudio Group team. The team dug into the analog processing capabilities of the integrated ATC amplifiers to make subtle adjustments to Blackbird’s existing SCM300ASL Pros, which had been in continuous use for nearly a decade, to match the new center channel SCM300ASL Pro. Ceri Thomas and Christine Thomas from Dolby saw to it that all of the Atmos specs were dialed in to perfection.
Following installation of the system, the studio has received a great deal of feedback on the format, room and the system. “Studio C was designed by George Massenburg and incorporates wonderful diffusion,” McBride said. “That makes the imaging, which is already amazing with ATC, all the more lifelike.” Aleks Bars, marketing manager at TransAudio Group, added, “With conventional surround sound technology, things are still focused in the front, and creative use of the rear channels kind of stands out. With Dolby Atmos, I felt like I was inside the track. I couldn’t hear gaps between the speakers; it was really cohesive. The vibe from other listeners overall was one of excitement. You could sense how different the experience was for people, and a lot of people told me they were looking forward to jumping into Dolby Atmos as soon as possible.”
A common refrain from the team of experts who installed and tuned the system, from John McBride, and from attendees at the listening party, was that it was fun to listen to remixes of classics but that they were most looking forward to new works created specifically for Dolby Atmos as the output format. “A good example of how the output format matters is the Beach Boys,” Winterfeld summarized. “They talked a lot about how they wrote and composed explicitly for mono. They would have made very different decisions if they had been creating for stereo. I would argue that so much of that older music that was done in mono is still best enjoyed that way. You get excited by different things and make different decisions when you’re mixing for stereo versus mono. The same thing is true moving to Dolby Atmos. Tracks have so much more room to exist and there are so many possibilities with movement, space, and location. It’s going to be exciting to hear what comes out of Blackbird Studio C!”
Dolby Atmos for Content Creators
ATC Professional Mid-Field Monitor Range – 2019 Cosmetic Update
ATC has given its SCM50/100/110/150ASL Pro studio monitors a cosmetic update by way of a new front logo panel. The new panel is manufactured from aluminium, with a black anodised finish and the logo laser etched into the surface.
The fitment of the logo panel has been improved and is now screw fixed (as opposed to the previous self-adhesive fixing). Practically, this means the logo plate can be easily rotated when the speakers are installed in a horizontal configuration. The limit LEDs are now mounted to the rear of the logo panel via a small PCB so will also move when the logo panel is rotated.
The update only offers cosmetic & functional improvements – there are no performance improvements. Updates to older existing products will not be available. There will be no cosmetic changes to the SCM12/20/25/45/200/300 Pro. The new style product is in production now.
LEGENDARY AUDIO ENGINEER ELLIOT SCHEINER RETIRES HIS NS-10 MONITORS FOR ATC SCM25A THREE-WAY REFERENCE MONITORS
For nearly half a century, Elliot Scheiner has been recording and mixing just about every musician and band of consequence, earning twenty-seven Grammy nominations and eight Grammy wins for his efforts. His wins include work with Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, Derek & the Dominos, and Beyoncé; and his larger list of clients includes Toto, Paul Simon, BB King, Eagles, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Sting, Faith Hill, Foo Fighters, and on and on.
In addition, Scheiner garnered two Emmy Awards and three TEC Award nominations. He is a TEC Hall of Fame inductee and holds an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, where he currently runs recording and mixing workshops. It was at Berklee that Scheiner fell in love with ATC’s revealing transparency, inspiring him to overcome a “superstitious” attachment to his NS-10s in favor of ATC SCM25A Pro three-way monitors.
Scheiner heard ATCs over a decade ago and thought they sounded “incredible,” but that experience didn’t move him to make the jump. “You can get yourself to a place where you’re superstitious about the tools that brought you to that place,” he explained. “I used NS-10s for most of my life.” Given his unambiguous success, it seemed like an open-and-shut case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’
It was only after Scheiner repeatedly got in front of ATCs to do workshops at Berklee that the practical benefits of their “incredible” sound became apparent. “Every one of the rooms at Berklee has ATC monitors,” he said. “I fell in love with them. The ATCs gave me an honest representation of what I was recording and mixing. At the end of the day, I would bring the work home to my NS-10s to finish, but there was nothing left to do! The decisions I made with the ATCs stuck.” He views the difference between working on the ATCs and the NS-10s not as working faster, but rather working with less effort. “Ears are a funny thing,” he mused. “I could try to throw some facts at you about why I like the ATCs so much, but in the end it’s just that I hear what I want to hear on the ATCs. With other speakers, I know what I want but I have to go out and get it. The ATCs just give it to me.”
Since he first got the ATC SCM25As a few months ago, Scheiner has completed work on forthcoming releases by jazz musicians Kandace Springs and New York Voices.
ATC Pro products are distributed in the U.S.A. by Transaudio Group. www.transaudiogroup.com
ATC Launch New SCM12i Pro
ASTON DOWN, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK: ATC is proud to announce availability of its SCM12i Pro passive monitor — effectively an adaptation of its SCM12 Pro compact, high-performance, two-way passive studio monitor released in September 2016 to widespread critical acclaim, albeit (re)designed for simple installation into recording, post-production, broadcast, and film studios of all shapes and sizes.
While weighing in at a reasonable 15kg/33lbs (per cabinet), the SCM12i Pro’s compact cabinet size — 400x238x235mm/15.7”x9.4”x9.3” (HxWxD) — and exceptional performance attributes of an even on and off-axis frequency response, wide dispersion and high dynamic range — make it an ideal loudspeaker for use in surround/multi-channel recording/mixing, and immersive audio applications such as Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D. To facilitate simple installation in whatever audio environment it may find itself — immersive or otherwise, the cabinet features mounting points compatible with popular wall/ceiling brackets, such as those offered by the likes of Californian company Adaptive Technologies Group and German giant König & Meyer (K&M).
Distinguishing Deutschland-compatible, installation-friendly features apart, the SCM12i Pro is designed around the same philosophy as ATC’s two- and three-way active monitor loudspeakers and also employs driver components and technology found in those larger models, resulting in exceptional consistency across the product range. Indeed, it is worth noting that the monitor makes use of the company’s celebrated drive units for both the mid/bass and tweeter, both being meticulously hand built at its UK facility.
The tweeter itself 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 anharmonic distortion. Listener fatigue is also greatly reduced, resulting in users being able to work for longer periods with greater accuracy.
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.
Let it be known, then, that simple, well-engineered products almost always trump feature-rich, cost-engineered alternatives, and ATC’s SCM12i Pro has been duly designed with that philosophy very much intact. Its neutral fidelity makes for 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 make a move into immersive audio or upgrade their existing monitoring system. So surely now is the time to consider entering that brave new world of EQ’ing, balancing, and editing faster, with more consistent results and reduced listening fatigue using the latest, high-performance, compact two-way passive monitor marvel from ATC, perfectly positioned for installation into recording, post-production, broadcast, and film studios of all shapes and sizes!
The British-built SCM12i Pro retails in the UK for £1,604.00 GBP (plus VAT) per pair.
For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated SCM12i Pro Product Webpage
For availability and pricing internationally, please visit the ATC Where to Buy Webpage
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