Nashville, TN (September 8, 2021)—Mike Monseur, a mastering engineer who has worked on Grammy-nominated projects, and mix engineer Webster Tileston have launched their own facility, Axis Audio, which is outfitted with 14 Neumann KH Series speakers in an immersive 7.1.4 monitor layout.
After a lackluster immersive presentation at a trade show in late 2019, Tileston says, “Mike and I walked out and said, ‘this is pointless; no one’s going to listen to this. No one is going to have the budget for this type of setup. And even if they do, they’re going to set it up wrong.’” But after watching a video from the 2020 NAMM Show on rendering mixes in binaural, Tileston began to see the immersive format’s potential. “If there’s a way that this can transfer to headphones, that means it has some more value for consumers,” he says.
Following extensive experimentation with the immersive format at Tileston’s studio, everything clicked into place once the pair assembled an all-Neumann KH series setup, they report. As a result, the spacious new Axis Audio mixing and mastering room features three Neumann KH 420 three-way powered monitors, each atop a KH 870 subwoofer, that handle the LCR and LFE channels. Four KH 310 three-way powered speakers on stands provide the surround information while four KH 120 bi-amped monitors on Neumann mounting hardware deliver the overhead zones. All the KH series speakers are located in an eight-foot radius from the listening position except the overheads, which are slightly delayed.
Monseur has been using KH 420s since 2015. “I was looking for new mastering monitors and got to demo the 420s,” he says, “and I didn’t send them back.” The dome midrange was probably the biggest factor in wanting to own a pair of Neumann speakers, he says. “They have punch and a great transient response but they’re still engaging and warm. They have a distinct voice that’s pleasant to listen to. And those 420s have been on every single day since 2015 without a problem.”
Axis Audio has already created Dolby Atmos Music mixes for a couple of the major record labels since opening. Monseur and Tileston also offer stereo mixing and mastering, mastering for vinyl, tape transfers and audio editing and restoration services.
“Tons of people in our industry have never heard a Dolby Atmos Music mix; they have no idea how it sounds,” Monseur says. “I see Dolby Atmos as an additional format, not a format to replace anything. Stereo is not going anywhere; Dolby Atmos is not going to put you out of business or change the way you’re making music. But once you hear it, especially on speakers in a room, you get it.”