Recording and Production in the News
Spool give the Arctic Monkeys the smooth treatment with Prism Sound EQCambridge, UK: The audio quality of Prism Sound's Maselec MEA-2 equalizers has helped engineers at Spool post production to create a stunningly smooth 5.1 soundtrack for an Arctic Monkeys DVD, which is scheduled for release at the end of this year.
Spool engineers in the studio
Spool was been involved in the Arctic Monkeys DVD project from its inception, following a commissioned from Warp Films to handle the audio. The initial location recording was carried out before Christmas at the band's Manchester Apollo gig. 68 tracks were recorded using discrete splits from the Front of House and stage microphones, along with some additional surround microphones brought in by the Spool team. The audio was captured on a Digidesign Venue live console and a Pro Tools HD system and backed up using Pyramix.
"It was a question of getting it right first time because this was the band's last concert," says Spool's technical director Greg Marshall who was in charge of the project. "We were also aware that the film crew were running an expensive six camera shoot using 16mm film and digital video, so there was absolutely no room for error."
The audio was then taken to Spool's Nottingham-based facility for final mixing. A visual edit was carried out using time-coded rough stereo mixes recorded during the show, before the multitrack was edited and mixed to the final pictures. The project was completed between March and July and both Warp Films and the Arctic Monkeys were delighted with the finished result.
"The Prism Sound MEA-2 equalizers were an integral part of the mix-down chain," says Greg Marshall. "We mixed on our Neve VR console and used three MEA-2 units, which gave us six channels (i.e 5.1) of mastering EQ. The clarity these units were able to deliver was truly amazing, especially at the top end where the audio can sometimes sound brittle and shrill. With the MEA-2's we were able to achieve a really smooth sound, particularly in the gaps between songs where we wanted to capture the crowd's interaction with the band for the surround channels."
Prism Sound's MEA-2 is a stereo or 2-channel, four-band precision analogue equalizer with stepped Q/shelf, frequency and cut/boost controls on each band. Part of the Maselec Master Series range of products, the MEA-2 was developed for Prism Sound by engineer/producer Leif Mases who worked with a diverse range of artists including Abba, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and Black Sabbath, as well as co-owning the renowned Marcus Studios in London. Leif developed the highly acclaimed Maselec 9001 retrofit equalizer for SSL 4000 mixing consoles and also builds custom consoles and equipment for mastering and other applications.
The combination of Leif Mases' experience with the creative process and Prism Sound's focus on engineering and technical excellence ensure that the Maselec Master Series delivers great-sounding audio in an intuitive and easy-to-use package. It is designed for recording and mastering applications where ultimate sonic performance, musicality and precision are required. Unlike many analogue equalizers, the MEA-2 meets the standards of audio performance consistent with digital media by providing fully-stepped controls for precision and repeatability for all parameters. It is also designed to provide a very transparent signal path where only the desired equalization effect is obtained without adding any particular sonic signature.
Since its inception, Spool has completed work on a wide range of projects including award-winning feature films, documentaries, commercials and shorts. Its recent clients include Universal Pictures, BBC, Warp Films, HBO, UK Film Council, Warp X and Film 4.
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