“We all came to these monitors from different paths — writing, mixing, and mastering, which I think is testament to their versatility as a range.”
– Stephen Barton, 2014 (Composer, Titanfall)
Today Barton works out of his own well-stocked studio setup in a leased room within Lurssen Mastering, a full-service mastering studio on the famous Hollywood Center Studio lot, a location steeped in over 80 years of entertainment history, which, of course, is precisely where the Titanfall composition success story began, skilfully and sympathetically mocked up on an all-singing, all-dancing DAW. Here he hears exactly what he needs to, thanks to a revealing pair of ATC SCM50ASL Pro three-way active monitors. “The ATCs are nothing short of phenomenal,” Barton begins, before continuing: “There’s nothing out there that equals them to my mind in terms of clarity, lack of fatigue over long-term listening, and truthfulness, which is the most important quality of any studio monitor. I’ve been using them for nearly seven years now, so, when I started working out of Lurssen Mastering a few years ago, the fact that Gavin Lurssen was using the bigger brothers to those in my setup was actually a big influence, and a great indication that we were like-minded in our listening approach.”
Sited within that historic Hollywood building — formerly used to fashion movie sets, Lurssen’s listening environment is naturally second to none with larger ATC SCM150ASL Pro three-way active and smaller ATC SCM25A Pro three-way compact active monitors at its heart: “The way that I ended up with ATC was that I was working at another mastering facility and a client came in with a pair of ATCs so that they could complete a project. Within seconds of hearing them I knew that something magical was happening and also knew that when the time came to open my own place then that’s where I’d turn to. So when that happened eight years ago their US distributor hooked me up with the 150s and I’ve used them ever since. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re the only thing that I can use to create my audio balances. They’re smooth and not fatiguing, and, somehow, make digital sound like analogue. I can sit in a room all day long and not burn out.”
Outside the mastering and compositional confines of the Titanfall soundtrack-spawning Lurssen Mastering building, those epic-sounding orchestral music scoring mixing sessions at London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios fell upon the seasoned shoulders and exemplary ears of Alan Meyerson, one of Hollywood’s top scoring engineers, with extensive credits including the majority of Hans Zimmer’s movie music. “Alan also uses ATCs, and it’s just been a case of coincidence that this amazingly huge project was done down the line on these speakers,” summarises Lurssen.
Coincidence or otherwise, in this case, there’s no doubting the benefits of an all-ATC reference monitoring experience in Barton’s finely-tuned musical mind: “The translation across the entire range made the entire workflow incredibly smooth. On mix down there were maybe two or three cues out of 30 or 40 for the IMC (Interstellar Mining Corporation) — one of the two factions in the game — that needed small tweaks. The majority of them were perfect straight out of the gate. Obviously a major part of this is down to awesome mix talent, but I think the fact that we weren’t adjusting to an entirely new monitoring approach meant that it was a much more cohesive process without any of those ‘I didn’t think that sounded like that’ moments. That’s especially true in important aspects of the frequency spectrum for a game like this, which is generally in the low end. Crucially, the translation to the game is superb. We did a direct shootout between the 25s and 150s whilst mastering Titanfall and it was stunning how consistent the sound was. All of these monitors simply tell you what’s there, and that’s a rare quality that’s vital, whether composing, mixing, or mastering.”
The SCM25A Pro three-way compact active monitors carry a UK RRP of £5,963.00 GBP (plus VAT) per pair; the SCM50ASL Pro three-way active monitors carry a UK RRP of £8,891.00 GBP (plus VAT) per pair; and the SCM150ASL Pro three-way active monitors carry a UK RRP of £11,577.00 GBP (plus VAT) per pair. All are available worldwide from any authorised ATC stockist.