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I recently completed sound design and mix at Dreambase Studios on a teaser for a new animated TV series called Elizabeth Avenue, created by Amanda Evans.

Produced by Martyn Niman of Elstree-based King Bee Entertainment, the series is based in a beautiful London street, lined with grand Victorian houses. It follows the adventures of a select pack of unpredictable, yet charming cats and dogs, each with their own distinctive characters, designed by Rafi Nizam and animated by King Bee Entertainment.

The big streets of London are bought to life through the antics of Lucy, Alfie, Ron, Reg and and a host of other characters as they go about their daily discoveries.

I sound designed and mixed the TV project, which includes music specially composed for the series by Barrington Pheloung.

Full details of the project can be seen by visiting the Elizabeth Avenue Site but for now here’s the teaser:

Just realised my goal of a blog-a-month has passed, with May being non-existant in terms of content. June is well and truly here (you’d never know it from the skies) so I thought I’d bang something brief together about the speakers I use.

Loudspeakers are always an emotive subject. Audiophiles, mixers, musicians: they all have their own favourites. And will fight to the verbal death to defend the make and model which floats their own auditory canal. Speakers are like cars – not just because they are potential pub talk – but because we get to know speakers (much like cars). We understand the frequency response (driving characteristics?), we appreciate the look (the curve of the bonnet?), we know how hard to push them (handling?), and we know what they excel at best (city car or load lugger?).

I’ve listened to a fair few speakers in my time (here’s a small selection):

  • Those ‘no-brand’ biege ones you used to get with IBM computers: OK if you turned up the treble, right?
  • Tannoy Westminsters in my local music recording studio: lovely, big and warm sounding.
  • The Yamaha NS10‘s in the same studio – OMG, what’s that flat sound?
  • Home made hi-fi boxes with 2-way Morel drivers: I thought they were amazing, but then I did build them….
  • Shermann Audio touring arrays: use 2 for my bands PA – they are very crispy.
  • Huge 3-way JBL screen arrays in cinemas: close to a hifi sound from a horn loaded enclosure.

The last speakers mentioned are probably those I’ve listened to most from my thirteen years as a sound consultant at Dolby Laboratories, setting up cinemas and film mixing theatres all over the world. I’m referring to horn-loaded systems in general, not just the JBL brand: Martin Audio, Altec, KCS, etc. Horn-loaded HF systems have been used in cinema playback systems for many years, and the smooth response in the 2kHz and upwards range always impressed me, especially in the latest systems. During my time at Dolby I also setup studios with dome tweeters and I could never get the smooth response I really desired and had heard in the cinema.

That is until I came across Adam loudspeakers. I first demo’d the A7’s at a studio in Denmark. I was immediately taken by the smoothness in the the all important upper frequencies of the dialogue spectrum – this was what I’d been looking for and they seemed to closely resemble the response of the best horn-loaded cinema speaker systems. And all this from a near-field speaker with a very small footprint – with ‘foot’ being the operative word!

I started using the A7’s when I set up my own sound studio, quickly moving onto a complete 5.1 setup of Adam’s. I did experiments between the studio and local cinema in order to best set up the speakers in their environment from both a level and equalisation stand point. The first feature film mix I did on them bore out the capabilities of these speakers. The dialogue I’d mixed in my small studio translated beautifully into the cinema environment with little ‘pre-emphasis’. This is important as I didn’t want to have to over or under-do anything in my own studio in order to have good playback in the cinema environment. I needed my small studio to be faithful to a larger cinema space and it’s systems.

Apart from careful setup of the speakers, a big contributor to the success of these units are the ribbon tweeters. They appear to come as close as possible to the horn-loaded systems found in cinemas, making film mixing a thing of confidence, even in a smaller room.

And their capabilities don’t stop there. At Dreambase Studios we don’t just do cinema mixes: we also mix audio for DVD, broadcast and the web. In each of these areas it’s vital to know what levels you need to be monitoring at to get the best delivery. The Adams certainly make that task a lot easier. You are given a head start on frequency and transient response so you only have to worry about the monitoring levels before you start creating for your chosen delivery medium.

In fact the Adams are so detailed, they playback every little click and pop that might be missed on traditional dome tweeter systems – this allows for a thorough and effective ‘technical’ cleanup of audio, as well as a creative one.

So there, I’ve evangelised about some speakers. I’m so used to these speakers now I wouldn’t consider any other make when it comes to near or mid-field monitoring. In a professional production environment you want speakers to help you both creatively and technically. To this end, the Adams come as close to providing both of these requirements in equal measure as any speakers I’ve listened to.

Long may they continue and make my job just that little bit easier!

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent official policy or endorsement of any of the products mentioned.