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San Francisco Symphony Acquires PMC AML1 Surround Monitoring System

The San Francisco Symphony’s technical staff purchased a PMC surround monitoring system for its in-house production facility and remote sessions. The orchestra’s regular program of performances at Davies Symphony Hall and other venues, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, are frequently recorded for live and delayed broadcasts.

“I have been using a pair of PMC IB2S monitors powered by Bryston Model 4B amplifiers in my personal production facility,” explains the Symphony’s recording engineer, Jack Vad, a Grammy-nominated producer/engineer. “So, when the time came to add a surround system for the orchestra’s various media productions, I went with an array of PMC AML1 5.0 active cabinets.

“We needed a surround monitoring system that would fulfill two distinct functions,” Vad continues. “Firstly, we wanted a system that could handle in-house recordings with our Yamaha 02R96 digital production console. Secondly, we opted for a portable, adjustable monitoring array that could be transported to other locations, and provide high-quality playback/demonstrations during, for example, SFS board meetings. Finally, in addition to offering outstanding playback quality, the rig had to be reasonably lightweight. Our new AML1 system fits the bill perfectly!”

The AML1 is an active, two-way monitor that features a 6.5-inch carbon fiber/Nomex LF driver and a 1.3-inch PMC soft dome tweeter. The built-in amplifier design is licensed from audiophile manufacturer Bryston. “These monitors offer enhanced dynamic resolution,” Vad says. “The AML1’s transmission-line design provides a low-end response that belies its small size. Like all PMC monitors I have auditioned, they are particularly smooth in the midrange frequencies and, overall, sound impossibly good!”

The five surround monitors were installed in May of this year, and have been used on a number of sessions with the San Francisco Symphony, including a live recording of composer John Adams’ latest work, A Flowering Tree, which aired on local FM stations. “We have also undertaken a number of CD recording sessions,” Vad concludes, “plus several TV and DVD projects with the orchestra.” The San Francisco Symphony’s television documentary series, Keeping Score, recently received a Rose d’Or Award nomination in the category of Best Arts Documentary for its program on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

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