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The Wire

Montreal’s “Le Lab” Goes Atmos with All-Focal Mastering Room

Legendary Montreal mastering studio adds Atmos mastering to its world-renowned stereo, vinyl mastering, and lacquer-cutting offerings

Montreal, Canada March 26, 2024 — Legendary Montreal studio Le Lab Mastering has built an all-Focal Dolby® Atmos™ room, adding Atmos mastering to its offerings on top of fully analog stereo, vinyl mastering, and lacquer cutting. The 7.1.4 Atmos studio features an all-Focal powered monitor configuration with Trio11, Trio6, Solo6, and Sub6. The room has a unique layout with dual Sub6 subwoofers stacked under the left and right Trio11 monitors – four subwoofers total. This unique subwoofer configuration gives Le Lab’s Atmos room the ability to offer mastering for movie soundtracks and other formats that would need extended low-end response; It also offers a symmetrical low-frequency coverage in a smaller footprint. Trio6 monitors fill out the center and rear channels, while Solo6 are on the sides. Le Lab has already mastered a lot of legacy recordings remixed for Atmos, including Celine Dion, Sia, Whitney Houston, Usher, Yo-Yo Ma, and Eric Clapton, among many others.

Le Lab Mastering
Le Lab Mastering, Montreal, studio owner and senior mastering engineer Marc Theriault in the stereo room

Le Lab also has a stereo mastering room based around Focal Grand Utopia hi-fi monitors and Utopia EM subwoofers, “On the stereo mastering side, engineers have almost always been using consumer speakers because they’re the bridge between the professional studios and homes,” says studio owner and senior mastering engineer Marc Theriault. “I always liked the sound of Focal because they’re very natural sounding and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Theriault recalls being interested in Atmos for music as soon as it was announced, so he started planning to build a room. “I was kind of the black sheep in Atmos because there were not many Focal rooms at that time,” he says. “I’m not using Pro Tools, I’m using Nuendo. I’m not using a Mac, I’m using Windows on a custom computer. I’m not using Dante, I’m using Ravenna. I was in my own world and had to figure it out.”

“At the beginning, there were all kinds of compatibility issues,” he says. “I spent a lot of time working on this, I went really, really deep. I made contacts with Dolby, Apple, Merging, and Focal, of course, to build my Atmos mastering studio. Also, I saw that there were no tools for my setup, so I built some tools specifically made for mastering to help me do my work. I spent many hours building a monitor controller dedicated to immersive audio wirelessly controlled from an iPad.”

Although the Atmos mastering room at Le Lab wasn’t built with ‘legacy’ records in mind, the studio ended up mastering Atmos versions of many famous records on Sony’s label, including all of Celine Dion’s albums—after they were re-mixed for the format from the original multi-tracks. The studio has also mastered Sia and Whitney Houston’s albums which were also re-mixed for Atmos. Theriault commented, “Being ready so early in the process as Atmos was catching on for music, I was ready when labels said, ‘Hey, We need that now!’

Le Lab Mastering
The stereo room at Le Lab Mastering (click to zoom in)

Explaining the process of his Atmos mastering, Theriault says, “I work with my partner, mixing and recording engineer Francois Lalonde, we have to start from the multi-tracks and we remix everything. First, we try to match what was done for the original mix, and then we make it immersive.” During the mix and mastering process Theriault often checks the audio using headphones, including his Focal Utopia, “I always keep a pair next to me in the studio. I first heard the Utopia headphones in France when they came out and I was really impressed.”

Describing his start with Atmos, Theriault recalled, “We had just started a tour with Celine Dion in 2020 and then the pandemic hit and I stopped the touring world for a while, as Dolby Atmos was just beginning. I was interested in Atmos, I felt like when it really starts, it will mostly be consumers with headphones who experiment with immersive sound. I was pretty at ease with headphones because I used headphones on tour for many years and I’ve been measuring headphones and experimenting with headphones for a long time—and I own a lot of headphones. I’ve possessed a Neumann KU-100 binaural head for nearly twenty years too.”

Le Lab Mastering
The Le Lab Atmos Mastering room featuring an all-Focal monitor line-up (click to zoom in)

Because of his Electrical Engineering Degree from Polytechnical University in Montreal, Theriault has been able to customize many of the technical aspects of his stereo and Atmos mastering rooms including calibrating the sound in the room. He developed a calibration system, that corrected amplitude, phase, and time domain distortion as well as fully bass-managed the 7.1.4 setup. “My custom system works well,” he says. And because the rooms are calibrated so perfectly and he has his custom control of mixes through his iPad setup, he creates very precise masters whether in Atmos or stereo. “At the beginning, if you wanted to listen to an Atmos mix over headphones, you had to make an mp4, put the mp4 in your iPhone, and then listen with headphones. To do an A/B comparison for mastering and to hear the difference between the original and what my processing sounds like my system needed to be in real-time whatever the format, and nothing existed at that time. So that’s why I created my custom program controlled by an iPad custom control interface, and it has paid off, it’s very efficient and useful.”

Marc Theriault started working in music professionally at 16 years old. He was mixing front of house for the biggest stage at the world-famous Montreal Jazz Festival only five years later at 21. Then at 24, partially based on his help solving technical issues with the tour setup, he got the job offer of a lifetime working directly with Celine Dion for her on-stage sound, and he has worked for her ever since. When Dion’s nine-year residency in Las Vegas ended, Theriault decided he would move back to Montreal to do the only appealing thing at that time: Mastering music. He then built the Le Lab Mastering studio. His first hi-fi speakers back in 2000 were JM Lab/Focal and that’s where it all started.

Le Lab Mastering
The lacquer cutting area at Le Lab Mastering (click to zoom in)

In addition to his work as a mastering engineer, Theriault is also an audio researcher, focusing on the science of sound and how it can be optimized for the best listening experience. He has researched topics such as digital audio processing and development in the field of immersive sound, particularly in the areas of 3D audio and binaural audio. As a member of AES, Theriault has been involved in various committees and initiatives aimed at promoting excellence in audio engineering.

Le Lab Mastering, under Theriault’s direction, is not just a studio but a hub of innovation and excellence in sound, where the legacy of music meets the future of audio technology.

Find out more about mastering engineer Marc Theriault and the team at Le Lab Mastering:

Visit North American distributor Focal Naim America at:


About Dolby Atmos Music
Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio technology, which is transforming how music is created and experienced. It takes music to new levels by immersing listeners inside the song to reveal details with unparalleled clarity and depth. Whether it’s hearing the layers of instruments move all around, catching the subtle breath a singer takes between lyrics, or being enveloped in a wave of melodies, nothing compares to hearing music in Dolby Atmos.

About Focal Naim America
Born from the merger of Focal, a world leader in acoustic sound made in France, and Naim Audio, a world leader in British-made hi-fi electronics, VerVent Audio Group’s brand subsidiaries signal a new investment phase and direction for VerVent in the US and Canada. By creating its own distribution entity, the group is striving to turn the North American territory into the market leader for Focal and Naim. Focal Naim America also distributes IsoAcoustics, Vicoustic, Musical Fidelity, AVIDHIFI, Thorens (US only), and BDI (Canada only). For more information about Focal Naim America visit their website at or call (800)-663-9352.

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