Several months ago, Grammy-winning producer, Oscar-nominated songwriter, touring musician and studio wizard T Bone Burnett began soliciting recommendations for replacement speakers for the control room of his Electro Magnetic Studios.
According to the producer’s longtime engineer/mixer, Mike Piersante, the U.K.-manufactured ATC SCM150ASL Pro reference monitors that Burnett purchased from exclusive U.S. distributor Las Vegas Pro Audio not only fill the room with faithfully accurate sound but also ensure a perfect translation to the mastering studio.
“I find them to be very true and revealing. They don’t lie,” says Piersante of the ATC monitors, which each house a single 15-inch ATC custom-built SL driver, ATC’s own unique 3-inch ATC custom mid-dome and a ferrofluid cooled one-inch dome tweeter, each separately powered by custom-built internal ATC amplifiers with FET limiters built in. “The great thing about them is that we can really turn them up loud. When you fill the room you start getting a little room compression and start really feeling stuff with your body.”
Burnett is nominated, as is Piersante, for two Grammy Awards this year in the major categories of Record of the Year (“Please Read The Letter”) and Album of the Year (“Raising Sand”) by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Also on the Album of the Year nomination is the project’s mastering engineer, Gavin Lurssen.
“The ATCs were recommended by a couple of trusted friends and engineers, including Gavin,” Piersante reports. “He’s mastered our stuff going all the way back to 2000’s ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou.’ He recently, in the last couple of years, built his new mastering studio and put in a pair of SCM150ASL Pros. So he recommended them and we tried them out and figured, from mixing to mastering, there would be no veil on anything, and no surprises. When I bring stuff to Gavin I’m listening on the same speakers I mix on, so there’s a big advantage there.”
Burnett, a big fan of natural, uncompressed sound, according to Piersante, obviously likes to listen loud when he’s mixing. He elaborates, “We push low-end around quite a bit, and the previous monitors frankly just didn’t get loud enough before they started popping and blowing drivers. That’s really the reason we made the switch to ATC.”
Burnett and Piersante are currently working on another record by Plant and Krause. “That’ll be brought over to the studio and mixed through the ATC speakers,” says Piersante. The ATC speakers were also used on the mix of an upcoming Robert Randolph record, as well as the soundtrack for the country music-based film “Crazy Heart,” starring Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall.
Another recent project mixed on the ATC monitors, and just about to go to Lurssen for mastering, is a new album from Elvis Costello. “It’s really in the Americana vein,” reveals Piersante, who notes that Burnett produced it in a similar manner to his previous projects with Ralph Stanley and the “Cold Mountain” soundtrack, which was nominated for an Oscar. “It’s all acoustic string instruments, no drums – an upright bass, mandolin, guitar and fiddle. It was all done live, with everybody out on the floor at once, including the vocalist and even background singers. They just performed and I captured it.”
In 2002, Burnett took home four Grammy Awards: Producer-Album of the Year, and Producer-Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”; Producer-Best Traditional Folk Album for “Down From The Mountain”; and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. He earned a fifth Grammy for his production on 2003’s “A Wonderful World” album by Tony Bennett and k.d. lang.
ATC products are distributed in the U.S. by LasVegasProAudio.com, a division of TransAudio Group.