Sax's Mastering Lab features a customized ATC 5.1 monitoring system.
Doug Sax, the recipient of a 2004 Technical Grammy Award, opened a new two-room studio facility featuring a customized Acoustic Transducer Company's [ATC] SCM150A 5.1-channel monitor system. The new facility is located in Ojai, 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
"What's unique about the room is that there's no console in front of the listener," explains Sax, who still maintains his original Mastering Lab facility in Los Angeles. "There's no console between you and any of the speakers, including the rears. If you have anything between you and the speaker, it's going to cause acoustic problems. You have to listen longer in surround. Psychologically, it really helps you concentrate, as you're not looking at knobs and meters and all the stuff that might take you out of just listening."
The surround monitoring system, comprising five ATC SCM150A loudspeakers and an ATC 15-inch subwoofer for the LFE channel was installed in front wall, according to Sax. "The front three speakers are not free-standing, they're soffit-mounted. But the soffit is not the full height of the room. We came up with this half wall. It's a unique design and we're really happy with it. It really works because the room feels large and the speakers are really allowed to do what they do."
During his evaluation of the monitors, he said: "I liked the fact that they seemed to be very coherent. The work ATC has done on the tri-amping and the crossovers really makes them feel like one system rather than three. They have very ample headroom. They sound very much like the speakers that I've been using for years, which we put together ourselves and my brother built in 1968. But they're larger than the ATCs, and I didn't want to build a surround room with speakers that size."
Sax became familiar with the ATC monitors while working with engineer James Guthrie over the years. "For many years James brought in his own ATCs when he mastered at The Lab in Hollywood and I did my first surround sound project at his studio near Lake Tahoe. So instead of familiarity breeding contempt, it bred respect!" he says.
The company was also very happy to work with Sax to integrate some of his own design requests, as they did with Guthrie. "These speakers have been customized for our use," Sax confirms. "The company could not have been more accommodating. I'm using their sub which has been updated with the electronics package that Guthrie worked out with ATC."
The surround project on which he worked with Guthrie was the critically acclaimed remastering to SACD of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It was during that project that Sax first got the idea to remove the traditional console from between the listener and the speakers.