Toronto, Ontario, Canada - With a strong international presence buoyed by a number of critically acclaimed recordings and a history of touring that further cements its status with music aficionados, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has a rich history and is Canada’s principal large symphony orchestra. Under the leadership of conductor Peter Oundjian, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s performances are regularly recorded and released on the orchestra’s own TSO Live label as well as being available for download via Apple’s iTunes music store. Several new recordings are currently in the final mixing and mastering stages and the reference monitors used for these projects are none other than the Q Series from Equator Audio Research.
Gary Gray, President of Audiolin Music in Toronto, engineers the recordings for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. A pro audio veteran who over the years served as Chief Orchestral Engineer at Toronto’s Manta Sound, engineered film scores for composers Lee Holdridge, Gary Chang, and John Debney, and also engineered audio for the documentary film A Long Journey Home about soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, Gray relies on his Equator Audio Q8 and Q10 studio reference monitors to help make the recordings that capture the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s magic.
Recently, Gray recorded the Toronto Symphony’s performances of works by composers Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner, and Sergei Prokofiev, and found working with his Equator monitors to be a rewarding experience. “I’m very fond of both the Equator Q8’s and the Q10’s,” says Gray. “I’ve used the Q10’s in the Thomson Hall (home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra) control booth for the actual recordings, as well as in the conductor’s office so he could select which recordings to use. We typically capture several performances, and then Mr. Oundjian evaluates them and determines which recordings will actually be incorporated onto the new CD. Once the various recordings have been selected, I perform final mixing and mastering at my private studio.”
When asked “Why Equator monitors?” Gray focused on one particular attribute that appears to be missing in many competing reference monitor designs. “For me, the number one criterion is the fact that the Equator monitors sound very natural and musical,” explained Gray. “There’s not a lot of EQ, compression, or other signal processing on this type of recording, so I’m primarily interested in what’s really there—the audio that gets captured right on the floor.”
“Further, they don’t exhibit a ‘hyped’ top end,” continued Gray, “which is a characteristic of many monitors and one I find very bothersome. On other monitors, I hear things that I don’t really hear in the music itself. By contrast, if I listen on the Equators and then walk into the hall, the sound is remarkably like the performance itself. Both the Q8’s and Q10’s are very clean sounding and reproduce the music with excellent detail. I’ve also been very impressed with the spatial imaging these monitors deliver and the fact that they are very capable of handling wide changes in dynamic range, which is critically important when it comes to orchestral recordings.”
In order to complete his projects, Gray routinely finds himself transporting his Equator monitors between Roy Thomson Hall and his own studio. Having to transport his monitors between locations, Gray finds Equator Audio’s room optimization software to be an invaluable aid in helping ensure a consistent listening experience. “The control room at Thomson Hall is quite large and the speakers are free-standing in the middle of the room,” said Gray, “so there, I found the monitors to be fine right out of the box. My home studio, however, was a completely different story.”
“The room where I’m posting is quite small and there are a number of reflective surfaces that could compromise the sound,” notes Gray. “To tune this room, I ran the Equator software and it made a number of changes in terms of cancelling early reflections, so I was very pleased. This software genuinely enables me to have a more accurate reference for my work. I’ve also been impressed with the fact that it’s very easy to use and the process is quick. This is a big plus, since I don’t have the time to spend half a day making room corrections as I move between locations.”
“I find the Equator Q8’s and Q10’s sound to be extremely natural. The speakers are very clean sounding and I’ve never once felt as though I was taxing the power source that drives the transducers
Before heading back into the studio to continue work on his projects, Gray offered this closing thought about his Equator Audio Q Series monitors. “The most important aspect of a studio monitor is its sound quality and its ability to help me make informed decisions about the mix,” says Gray. “I find the Equator Q8’s and Q10’s sound to be extremely natural. The speakers are very clean sounding and I’ve never once felt as though I was taxing the power source that drives the transducers. They’re solidly built, the DSP software is excellent, and they’re priced very attractively. I think that pretty much says it all.”