Falmouth, United Kingdom, July 27, 2022 — Dr. Antti Saario’s musical journey has been characterized by a uniquely collaborative relationship with sound. As an award-winning acousmatic composer, his compositions bring together unusual sound sources to form moving emotional experiences out of unexpected sonic relationships. This background in the experimental has also informed his work as Head of Music at Falmouth University in Cornwall, England, where he has made the art of utilizing holistic listening to identify these types of experiences in sound a key component in his teaching and ongoing academic research. Saario’s signature melding of the emotional and the technical has led him to embrace Amphion Two15 and Argon 7LS monitors as a critical part of his sonic explorations.
Holistic audio production
Although he is well-versed across many genres of music, Saario’s experiences in acousmatic composition and what he calls ‘post-acousmatic’ composition have proven to be the most influential on his overall approach as a producer and audio engineer. His work requires extreme patience and a keen attention to detail, assembling compositions from found sources and exploring the results. Doing so has given him a unique point of view in regard to the relationship between production and the effect that it can have on a listener. “In this type of composition, the technical and emotive aspects go hand-in-hand because there isn’t a set tone of how anything is ‘meant’ to sound,” he explained. “It’s all about discovering those relationships and bringing forth the feelings that they evoke. It may be closer to sound design than traditional composition, but the emotional goals are equally important.”
Saario’s emphasis on what he calls ‘affective critical listening’ has led him to explore a variety of monitoring solutions in order to satisfy his needs. He found his ideal balance in truthful detail and affecting musical experience when he made Amphion Two15 monitors a part of his home studio. “It’s extremely uncommon to find studio monitors that give you both precision and a sense of emotional engagement with the music,” he said. “Amphion has always been excellent at enabling both of those facets. You’re able to hear with extreme detail, but it’s an emotionally engaging listen that ‘feels’ right.”
“Being able to utilize this very holistic approach to listening so effectively had an immediate impact on my workflow, both as a composer and as an educator.”
Listening for creativity
Saario’s students at the Falmouth University represent a plethora of musical approaches and genres, befitting the school’s broad musical curriculum. Despite this, his emphasis on teaching the art of critical listening as a way of creative engagement is universal across the school’s songwriting and composition classes as well as its audio engineering and sound design programs. Saario does this to ensure that his pupils develop ears that are as emotionally engaged as they are critical, and always with an eye towards experimenting with process. “Music students are coming into educational programs like ours with a higher level of technical know-how than they would have had in the past, but the danger in that is having preconceived notions of how everything should sound and work,” he said. “My goal as an educator is to encourage them to step out of that technical comfort zone and really listen in the moment. When they take time to do that, they’ll often make the most interesting and honest creative decisions.”
Saario utilizes two different, but congruous monitoring setups when listening to his student’s assignments. In his private studio, designed and built by DACS Audio specifically for his critical listening needs in regards to research and studio composition, he utilizes 5 AmphionTwo15 monitors and a pair of BaseOne25 bass extension systems. When he wants a change of surroundings without losing the resolution and detail that he’s come to rely on however, he moves into his sitting room where he has a pair of Argon 7LS speakers as part of his home theater setup. “My partner and I both are music researchers and educators, so our home listening is just as important to us as our studio setups,” he explained. “Having that high resolution and quality of experience in an environment like this where you can comfortably immerse allows you to get into a different headspace when listening and I was impressed by how close they were to my Two15s. We’re using them every day for everything — and the ability to connect with that experience so fully has made them essential to us.”
“Being able to trust that one tool to shift so easily between those modes has been utterly crucial to my work,” he said. “The Amphions enable me to shift between very different listening modes – be they as an educator, producer and engineer, sound designer, or audio researcher – without any compromises,.”
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Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd. was established in 1998. We design and build loudspeakers that are characterized by honest and accurate sound reproduction. Precise driver integration ensures world-class imaging and phase coherency. Controlled dispersion technology helps achieve more stable results in a variety of room acoustics. All products are handmade in Finland (and the Amphion amplifiers are assembled in Finland) to ensure enduring listening quality.