Abbey Road StudiosUse ADAM Audio Studio MonitorsADAM Users
Abbey Road Studios use ADAM S3A monitor for their 5.1 surround sound system
Abbey Road Studios recently purchased an ADAM S3A 5.1 surround sound system for their Studio 3, although we are told that this will be made available in the other studios as well. The acquisition was instigated by Peter Cobbin who is already acclaimed as one of the worlds leading authorities in 5.1 technique.
We went to Abbey Road to meet Peter and he spared us a few moments to talk about how his new ADAM set up features in his working life.
Why ADAM S3A studio monitors?
“I had been looking for good small active monitors, particularly something that could sit comfortably on top of the console. I like the physical design of the S3a’s in that they have a fairly low profile and sit horizontally on the console and don’t take up too much space as I always use large monitors as well. For their size the S3A’s have an unbelievable bottom end. You can hear the depth in the music, its very three dimensional rather than just sounding flat. And from a critical monitoring point of view, sitting right in the middle, they offer the classic stereo imaging for mixing.”
Why did you choose active over passive monitors?
“I have found in my experience that imaging is better in an active rather than in a passive speaker, especially where there may be long runs to an amplifier. Another important thing is the result is usually better where an amp is specifically designed for a speaker.
I also think it’s great to get to know a speaker with its own amplifier i.e. an active; it makes it so much easier. And that’s an important point because it means you can take the speaker from one control room to another. Sometimes we have different amplifiers in different rooms so the same speakers will give us different results, we don’t have that problem with active monitors.”
Generous sound field in a surround context
“The other thing is because I do so much work in surround; I have been looking for a nearfield monitor that I can use comfortably in a 5.1 set up. The requirement for this is that all monitors (excluding the sub) have to be the same of course. And again, finding something that offers a considerable depth without being too big is a real advantage. So, having tried the S3a’s in stereo I thought I would try them out in 5.1 and I was absolutely blown away by the generous sound field in a surround context.
What have you used the S3A’s on so far and how have they performed with different styles of music?
“Well, I was working on the Lord of the Rings DVD with my Nautilus 5.1 set up, but I needed to have a reference for my stereo mix as well. So, that was actually the first time I checked the S3a’s out. I then used them on a project with Paul Shwartz and we both liked them, and Paul’s was a different style of music from Lord of the Rings. So with just those two projects, we’ve gone from orchestral music to a crossover style.”
“But the crunch or acid test was to hear them on a Rock’n’Roll project. Because that’s the other requirement for me, to be able to have something that works with pop/rock music as well as orchestral or classical/film as I am involved in the whole gamut. This is why I then tried them with the U2 project which I was mixing (which is for their live DVD due out later this year).”
“The problem with control rooms is that as a rule they have never been designed from scratch for surround sound and because they are large it is very difficult to find a suitable placement for a small secondary system. And I think it is very important to listen to a secondary system whilst mixing. So I decided to set up a ‘lounge’ area or environment in the studio which proved to be incredibly successful.”
Permanent Part of Abbey Road studios
Did the ‘lounge set up’ change any of your mix decisions?
“Yeah…Absolutely, I think there is always the psychological thing kicking in where you’re sitting in a lounge chair. Somehow the mind switches over, you are not in front of the console, you don’t see any knobs, switches or faders and you can focus in on the music very easily. To be able to do that in the surround format was wonderful. In fact, I had a couple of playback sessions with some of the guys from the band (U2) and the combination of the S3a’s and the lounge environment definitely influenced some of our decisions.”
“I am genuinely excited by the S3A’s. I believe they are a great product and would recommend them to anyone”
S3A’s are now a permanent fixture in Abbey Road.