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…
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.”