New York, NY (May 7, 2020) — Since her 2008 debut album Tea Bye Sea, Becca Stevens has proven herself that rare singer-songwriter who captivates the most casual of listeners but who is also as serious a musician’s musician as they come. Her new studio album WONDERBLOOM draws on funk, folk, jazz, and even metal, all while maintaining a sound that’s ineffably her. This diversity is reflected in the personnel, from Michael League of neo-fusion collective Snarky Puppy to multiple Grammy winner and YouTube phenomenon Jacob Collier, to none other than David Crosby. WONDERBLOOM is as much a sonic feast as a musical one, floating complex arrangements in a lush but transparent soundscape. Stevens and producer Nic Hard insisted upon tracking and mixing on active studio monitors from ADAM Audio, including a pair of the three-way S3Hs, a pair of S2Vs and the ultra-compact T5Vs that go wherever Nic goes.
“Nic was always ADAM-ant about bringing the ADAM monitors to wherever we were working,” laughs Stevens, “from literal spare-bedroom studios to full facilities like Electrik Indigo Sound, Jessie Fischer’s studio across from Bi Orange where we did the majority of the tracking. We also used the smaller T5Vs when working on the go. With other speakers, there’s always been something sort of inconsistent. With ADAM monitors, we have a reference we can both depend on.”
“I’ve used ADAMs at least 12 or 13 years, beginning with the original S3As,” adds Nic Hard. “Becca has the ears of a bat. She can hear if a vocal was edited — from the other room! Speakers that are too bright or too boomy would drive her nuts.” Fortunately, ADAM’s propriety tweeter design reveals all of the high-frequency detail without any of the ear-fatiguing sizzle that so many monitors exhibit upon extended use. “We sometimes work 12, 14, 16 hours a day,” says Stevens. “A lot of speakers lose the definition at lower volumes, but with the ADAMs, we could avoid frying our ears and still hear all of the detail.”
“They can still get very loud if you want,” Nic chimes in. “We like to mix at medium levels for the reasons Becca said, but when you’re tracking musicians, they often want to come into the control room and hear the playback loud. And the ADAM monitors have no problems in that regard!”
If Stevens had to boil ADAM speakers down to one virtue, it would be trust. “On records prior, I had a lot of back-and-forth. I’d listen to something in headphones, and then second-guess myself and listen to it in a different pair of headphones. Then third-guess myself and check it on three different pairs of speakers and in the car. I never knew which version was going to sound best out in the real world,” she recalls. “On WONDERBLOOM, I could always trust that what came out of the ADAM monitors would sound good everywhere — ear buds, a car stereo, wherever. That’s a testament to Nic’s mixing skills, but the ADAMs saved us a lot of time because they just translate so well.”
The ADAM monitors’ accuracy took a wry turn when David Crosby sang on two of the album’s tracks. “We recorded that in Brooklyn as David was in town for some shows at the Beacon,” Stevens recounts. “Of course, Croz has this big, bushy mustache and he doesn’t like to trim it, which can muffle his voice. It drives Michael League crazy. I was engineering this session myself, and thanks to the ADAMs, if I heard that muffled sound, I knew it was the mustache and not the mix!”
The design of the tweeter, waveguides, and crossovers in ADAM’s three-way systems all contribute to clarity even when a large number of similar tracks pile up. This proved relevant to “Good Stuff,” Stevens’ autobiographical anthem. “I co-wrote that with Kaveh Rastegar [of Grammy-nominated quintet Kneebody] and he wanted a Gospel choir,” Stevens describes. “We didn’t have anywhere near the budget for that, so I called my friend Michael Mayo. He’s not only a great singer but a vocal chameleon. He can sound like any persona. The voices singing ‘hella’ in chorus are actually all him, in about 50 layers. Mixing all of them to sound like a real choir was another time we were glad to be listening on ADAM monitors.”
Becca and Nic also discovered that a smaller speaker doesn’t mean lesser performance. “Nic and I were also working on another record with a great Middle Eastern group called The Secret Trio,” explains Stevens. “They were across the hall at Big Orange Sheep, and I figured, heck, we’ll use the S2Vs. These are much smaller than the S3Hs, but for tracking and mixing that project, they didn’t leave us wanting for anything.”
“At the end of the eight-month period of doing this record, let me say I’d be happy making music exclusively on ADAM speakers for the rest of my life,” says Stevens.
Nic adds, “Right now I’m in New Zealand during this pandemic. The little T5Vs are all I brought with me as anything else would have incurred expensive baggage fees. They are absolutely perfect for all the work I need to do while I’m here.”
Learn more and listen to tracks from WONDERBLOOM at beccastevens.com.
About ADAM Audio
ADAM Audio monitors have had a reputation for sonic excellence and unrivaled quality ever since the company was founded in 1999. With the development of the X-ART and S-ART tweeters, which are characterized by an extended frequency range up to 50 kHz and a higher efficiency compared to dome tweeters, this unique tweeter design has become the embodiment of a transparent, highly defined and authentic sound that is the most defining development of ADAM’s proprietary designs today. Being made and tested painstakingly by hand in the Berlin factory, ADAM’s high frequency driver is a rare exception in these days of automated mass production. ADAM Audio is represented worldwide through a network of distributors and dealers in more than 75 countries. ADAM also has offices in Nashville, London, and Beijing.