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Buddy Miller Adds ATC SCM45A Monitors to His Nashville Studio

Buddy Miller (pictured) is a Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, guitarist, and engineer. After getting his start in the late 1970s in New York City and Austin, he 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.

Miller says he likes to record with an entire band in the control room (sometimes including the drums) with the singer in an adjoining room that has good line of sight to the control room. He used that technique as Executive Music Producer for ABC’s drama Nashville for the past three seasons, which required producing and recording 60 to 80 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, Miller hosts an ongoing weekly Sirius XM radio show that combines live recordings of artists with conversations.

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. Building on three years’ success in using 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.

Miller says that he spent more than 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.

“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.”

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 2-inch, 16-track tape machine, Pro Tools | HDX, outboard gear that includes 32 channels of mic pre’s (Telefunken V76 preamps, new and old Urei 1176s, a Fairchild 670, BAE1073s, dvx 160s, a Universal Audio LA-2A, a Manley Massive Passive) and an extensive microphone collection. Miller also uses a plate reverb system in his basement.

Three years ago Miller purchased a pair of ATC SCM25A near-field monitors. “The ATCs are so incredibly detailed in the midrange,” he says. “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.”

Both ATC SCM25A and ATC SCM45A 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.

“The new [ ATC SH25-76S] tweeter is great!” he adds. “The high end is beautiful and gives me even greater clarity and detail so I can get lost in the music.”

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