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Blackbird Studio Installs Custom ATC Subwoofers

Co-owned by seasoned engineer John McBride and his wife, country music star Martina, Blackbird Studio in Nashville offers six recording and production areas, as well as several pre-production suites. All tracking and mix areas are equipped with ATC (Acoustic Transducer Company) self-powered loudspeakers.

“When the time came to outfit our newest room, Studio F, we turned once again to ATC, whose SCM300ASL and SCM150ASL Pro systems can be found in all our other rooms,” says John McBride. “Since this room was being designed specifically for use by Justin Niebanks, one of our city’s most successful recording engineer/producers, we consulted with him and chose this system together. One of the requirements of the room was to be able to deliver a high SPL without distortion, because of the wide variety of musical projects that come into the studio.”

The McBrides retained studio designer Mike Cronin to build Studio F. ATC owner Billy Woodman and transducer/R&D engineer Ben Lilly visited Blackbird and finalized John McBride’s idea of a custom subwoofer. The new room is rectangular with a 750-square-foot control room area within a 30x24x23-foot shell.

“We soon realized that to achieve the performance to 20 Hz in Blackbird’s new room with high SPLs, we needed to develop a custom subwoofer system,” Lilly recalls. “John [McBride] already knew he wanted our twin 15 ATC 300ASLs for the front-left, center and right speakers and the single 15 version (150ASLs) for the rear surrounds. The room also required an aesthetic solution, so we came up with a custom design that included a pair of left and right subwoofers that feature the same baffle dimension as the 300s. They are mounted in soffits, close to the floor, within the concrete-filled front monitor wall.”

A front-wall location was chosen so that the subwoofers would be equidistant from the mix position, in relation to the LCR mains, and to provide some room loading, therefore increasing low-frequency extension and efficiency.

“We looked at vertical and horizontal arrays,” Lilly continues, “but soon realized that for reasons of limited space and symmetry, a horizontal configuration with three 15-inch drivers arranged in a line would be the best solution.” Each 15-inch ATC SL sub driver is housed in its own individual enclosure within the overall sub cabinet and is driven by a dedicated, ATC-built monoblock amplifier rated at 650 watts into eight ohms.

“The new 5.1 system sounds outstanding,” John McBride says. “We have a very accurate, very smooth low-frequency response down below 20 Hz and great accuracy up to 20k. The room sounds great and also translates extremely well to other listening environments. Justin has mixed a large variety of projects in this room with great success.”

“The room measures down to 16 Hz,” says Bob Hodas of Bob Hodas Acoustic Analysis. “We used a 50Hz crossover frequency to the main five-channel ATC system and installed a Meyer CP-10 Complementary Phase Parametric Equalizer. The pair of custom subwoofers ensures a seamless integration with the other loudspeakers, and offer excellent phase and frequency response at the crossover frequency. The new system provides an effortless presentation of bass frequencies. It sounds very, very good.”

For more information, visit ATC’s U.S. distributor, Las Vegas Pro Audio, at, ATC at and Blackbird Studio at