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Monitoring ‘The Witcher,’ ‘Shadow and Bone’ and More

High-profile composer Joseph Trapanese recently updated his studio facility to a Dolby Atmos-capable 7.1.4 system of JBL Pro speakers.

Composer Joseph Trapanese in his studio, surrounded by his Dolby Atmos-capable 7.1.4 speaker system of JBL Pro speakers.
Composer Joseph Trapanese in his studio, surrounded by his Dolby Atmos-capable 7.1.4 system of JBL Pro speakers.

Los Angeles, CA (April 4, 2022)—Not everyone’s familiar with the name Joseph Trapanese, but you’ve heard his music. Whether composing music for hit films like The Greatest Showman, Oblivion, Straight Outta Compton and The Divergent Series, or taking on Netflix must-see series like The Witcher and Shadow and Bone, Trapanese finds the right tone to fit the production and gives directors—not to mention audiences—what they need. To do that, he uses a variety of tools and with that in mind, recently upgraded his studio with JBL Professional 708P master reference monitors to create a Dolby Atmos-capable 7.1.4 speaker system.

“As a composer, one of the most important things for me is to make sure that what I intend when I’m writing music comes across to the audience,” said Trapanese. “Something I’d struggled with for a long time was understanding how my mixes translate into a movie theater. Besides learning how to write music that works well with dialogue and sound effects, I needed to find speakers that sounded similar to a dub stage, which is essentially a small movie theater. I was up at Skywalker Sound where my music editor had a pair of JBLs in the room, and when we went from his little edit suite to the dub stage, I thought, ‘Wow, everything I just heard in that room sounds just like it does right now on this dub stage,’ and that got me thinking about my own setup.”

In a previous upgrade, Trapanese equipped his facility’s main composing room with three JBL LSR6332 studio monitors for the critical left, center and right (LCR) channels of a 5.1 surround sound configuration. Most recently, he added eight JBL 708P master reference monitors for a complete 7.1.4 three-dimensional audio system, mounting the four overhead speakers from trusses on each wall. The composer explains that this sonic reference point is critical to achieving a sound that translates well to the audience.

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“The more we understand the process of mixing and dubbing, the more we’re able to see that process as our friend rather than a foe, and that’s what these speakers have done for me,” Trapanese added. “They’ve allowed me to get many steps closer to experiencing the mix as the audience is going to hear it, whether it’s at a theater, in their home or even on their iPad. I’ve noticed that my music has translated well when I open up Netflix on an iPad and listen to one of these shows just to check how they’re sounding. They sound fantastic—and it is not hyperbolic to say that when I go to the dub stage, I’m never surprised I hear exactly what I intended.”

“For a long time, I had mainly worked with eight-inch woofers,” said Trapanese. “When I got to work with Daft Punk years ago, I walked into their studio and they had 12-inch woofers in addition to subwoofers. At first, I thought it was overkill, but then I thought, ‘Oh wow. It really is a cinematic feeling.’ That’s really what it is to me. It’s an emotional connection to the cinema. When you’re in a theater, the speakers are pushing so much air that it’s really exciting. I knew I wanted 12-inch woofers but I thought the JBL M2 would’ve been overkill for this room, and that’s what led me to these speakers. I actually have two sets—one for here and one for my house. I love them so much.”