Opera singer Andreas Schollupgrades his setup with ADAM Audio’s S3H midfield speakersADAM Users
Countertenor Andreas Scholl equips his studio Friendship 7 with ADAM Audio S3H reference monitors
Andreas Scholl is one of the world’s best-known countertenors. Signed to Decca since 1998, Andreas has received several awards for his interpretations of classic choral works. He has produced 15 CDs to date and has performed as a vocalist at both classical music venues and at opera halls. Married to pianist Tamar Halperin, Andreas has also garnered positive reactions to his pop productions over the last few years.
Andreas set up his own studio to produce his own recordings, and recently upgraded his set up with ADAM Audio’s S3H speakers. “How I work on my mixes has changed considerably since then,” Andreas told us recently. “I’d say that I can work more intensively on the S3Hs compared to my previous monitors, the ME Geithain MO-2. When you start using them, the wealth of information presented by my new speakers is almost overwhelming. Specifically, some of the detail on classical music recordings and acoustic instruments weren’t audible on my previous speakers, which were very good in their own right,” Andreas continued.
The precision of the ADAM S3H had a big impact on his work, he told us. “The S3Hs don’t sugar-coat anything. I’m forced to concentrate on the material more intensively until I’m happy with the mix. They have a certain unforgiving quality in the way they reproduce sound. But at the end of the day, that is rewarded with a special auditory experience. Having worked with several other loudspeakers, this is the first time I’ve owned a pair of ‘reference’ monitors – and I’m very happy.”
Andreas became interested in recording during his time as a student at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland, when he would assist at the music academy’s newly built recording studio. He supported composers in realising their pieces and projects, put together live PA rigs and mixed live audio. Today, Andreas Scholl teaches vocal performance at the same school.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to set up my own studio,” he said. When he returned to his native Rheingau region in Germany, Andreas’ dream became a reality. “My wife and I bought an old vineyard, and I seized the chance to turn a part of it into a recording studio.” Andreas designed the studio himself, which doesn’t have to generate a profit through being rented out. “We aimed to build a ‘studio’ – in the sense of an artist’s studio – that would offer added value by providing a space for artistic freedom, which would pay dividends in turn,” Andreas explained.
In addition to his musical expertise, Andreas has since acquired a deeper understanding of the acoustics behind audio production. One day, he realised that the sound he was producing with mixes he once felt were good wasn’t translating well to other monitoring systems. “What’s crucial here is the monitor’s reproduction performance, and how quickly it can translate the sound impulse. Now that I’ve become used to the S3Hs, I can judge that aspect far better.”
Working with the S3H has transformed Andreas’ vision of the ideal studio monitor. In his view, the aim of the mixing process is to attain a satisfying listening experience. “A monitor that gives me that satisfaction too early prevents me from working harder and longer on the mix. It fools me into thinking that I’m already at the finish line. The biggest change for me is that I now have to work a lot more intensely on complex mixes.” Andreas fully agrees with the slogan ADAM Audio uses to advertise these monitors: “‘Brutally honest’ says it all.”
“Only good mixes sound genuinely good on the S3Hs. I just wouldn’t have been able to have that experience on my old monitors. That’s why I’m so impressed with the honesty of the S3H.”
After installing his S3Hs, Andreas listened to a few of his favourite CDs on his new speakers. “At first I thought the S3H sounds aggressive. But other productions sounded fantastic, with no trace of that aggressiveness. Only good mixes sound genuinely good on the S3Hs. I just wouldn’t have been able to have that experience on my old monitors. That’s why I’m so impressed with the honesty of the S3H.”
Andreas’ passion for professional studio equipment also extends to microphones. “My collection includes a lot of different microphone types. I’ve recently started using an AEA R88 mk2 and a Coles 4050. It’s a joy to position these around a grand piano or a harpsichord and then hear the uncoloured character of the instrument through the S3Hs. Every sound we hear creates associations that are difficult to express in words. That’s why we find it so hard to describe the sound characteristics of a given microphone or speaker. For me, every sound sparks new ideas, meaning that a monitor like the S3H stimulates my creativity.”
Andreas first heard of ADAM Audio while recording a production for radio. “I have always been fascinated by the liveliness of these monitors. In January 2017, I was working with conductor and recorder player Dorothee Oberlinger to record a CD in Neumarkt being produced by Bayerischer Rundfunk. The production truck had a pair of S3X-V, so I had another opportunity to hear those speakers.” After intensive research and many listening sessions he selected the S3H. “ADAM Audio has a long tradition and an excellent reputation. The fact that these speakers are built in Germany is another plus.
Andreas has not yet had other guest producers working at his studio, which he named Friendship 7, since buying his new monitors. This is to change soon, however. “Guy Sternberg from LowSing Studios in Berlin is an old friend of my wife and knows his way around our studio. He installed his DAW on our studio Mac Pro, so he turns up with only a hard drive. We’re recording two new CDs this year. Apart from Guy, the engineers Philip Siney and Mark Brown will also be working at our studio. I’ve recorded almost all my albums for Decca with those two.” Andreas is looking forward to hear how these two seasoned audio professionals will judge his new monitoring solution.