After getting his start in the late 1970s in New York City and Austin, Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist, and engineer Buddy Miller 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.
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.
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 says. “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 surgically-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, Miller 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 says. “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 says. “The high end is beautiful and gives me even greater clarity and detail so I can get lost in the music.”