UNIVERSAL PICTURES LEAP YEAR MIXED ON EQUATOR AUDIO RESEARCH Q10 STUDIO MONITORS
Would you gamble on a trip to Dublin, Ireland to propose on February 29th, leap day, to that special someone if, by Irish legend, that person is required to accept? That’s the premise of Leap Year, a film from Universal Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment. Directed by Anand Tucker and starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, and John Lithgow. The film’s soundtrack was composed by Randy Edelman, winner of 10 BMI Film Music Awards and was mixed and engineered by music scoring mixer Elton Ahi. Together, they’ve created a magical soundtrack and they did it using Q10 reference monitors from Equator Audio Research.
Ahi, a well-known figure in Hollywood’s film sound community, has recorded and mixed over 100 major film projects, including the summer 2009 blockbuster Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor from Universal Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures’ comedy 27 Dresses, along with the classic film Last of the Mohicans, which won an Oscar for sound. With credits like these, Ahi clearly knows a bit about film sound. That’s precisely why he depends on his Equator Q10’s and the Secondary Reflection Correction™ (SRC) software, which is part of Equator Audio’s optional Q Series Room Analysis Calibration Kit.
The Leap Year score was recorded and mixed by Ahi at Air Studios in London and Rusk Sound Studios in Hollywood. Using five Q10 studio reference monitors as part of a 5.1 surround sound setup, Ahi uses his Equator monitors wherever he works. “I’ve really come to depend on my Q10’s,” said Ahi. “Combined with the Room Analysis software, this is an unbeatable monitoring setup.”
“When you’re recording and mixing an orchestra, it’s very challenging to capture all the nuances a large ensemble of musicians creates,” he continued. “The monitors must reproduce the sound accurately and that’s where the Q10’s excel. The sound quality is transparent and remarkably consistent regardless of whether the music passage is loud or soft. Further, the monitors’ imaging capabilities are equally accurate, enabling you to hear the placement of the sounds. The Q10’s are very true to the source. It’s this level of detail that makes all the difference with a film score. If the music doesn’t convey the emotions of the scene, everything suffers. For this type of work, the Q10’s are terrific.”
As any film sound engineer will confirm, the accuracy of the control room’s sound characteristics is critical. Without this, a mix can sound radically different from one location to another. To ensure consistency among mixing rooms, Ahi finds Equator Audio’s SRC software to be a major benefit.
“The Q10’s deliver a very natural, accurate sound that never gets harsh or fatiguing, which makes working much more comfortable during those long sessions
“While most of the rooms where I work are very carefully acoustically engineered,” Ahi explained, “that doesn’t make them perfect. There are always reflections from the console surface, video monitors, and other hard surfaces that can compromise the mix position. This is why the SRC software is so valuable; it enables you to tune the room so that you have a consistent sounding environment in which to work. While the Q10’s, themselves, are very accurate, the SRC software goes one step further to ensure accuracy in the mix and the results I’ve obtained have been very impressive. This software levels the playing field between room discrepancies so that what you hear remains consistent from one studio to another.”
As he headed back into the control room, Ahi offered this closing thought about Equator Audio’s Q10 monitors and the SRC software. “The Q10’s deliver a very natural, accurate sound that never gets harsh or fatiguing, which makes working much more comfortable during those long sessions, and the SRC software enables me to set the monitors for the characteristics of my room and feel confident about what I’m hearing. Together, they provide a great mixing experience. What I hear in the control room ends up on screen or other medium without any surprises.”
MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR MIXED ON EQUATOR AUDIO RESEARCH Q10 STUDIO MONITORS
Universal Pictures Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor marks the third film in the Mummy franchise. Staring Brendan Fraser, who reprises his role as explorer Rick O’Connell, the film’s soundtrack was composed by Randy Edelman, winner of 10 BMI Film Music Awards and was mixed and engineered by music scoring mixer Elton Ahi. Collectively, Edelman and Ahi have created a dazzling soundtrack to director Rob Cohen’s breath-taking onscreen visuals—and it was accomplished using Q10 reference monitors from Equator Audio Research.
Ahi, a well-known figure in Hollywood’s film sound community, has recorded and mixed over 100 major film projects. In addition to the Mummy, Ahi ‘s credits include Fox 2000 Pictures’ recently released 27 Dresses, XXX, and the classic film Last of the Mohicans, which won an Oscar for sound. The Mummy soundtrack was mixed in 5.1 surround sound at Rusk Sound Studios in Hollywood and recorded at Abbey Road Studios and AIR Studios in London. Throughout this long and involved process, Ahi’s Q10 studio monitors accompanied him at all locations.
“I’ve become extremely dependent upon these monitors,” states Ahi. “I used my Q10’s to mix and engineer the entire soundtrack and most of the film score for this project. “I find the Equator monitors to be very transparent and true to the sound. With the Q10’s, whatever I was working with in the control room was exactly what I ended up with on the screen. There’s no coloration of the sound at all and they’re very true to the source. Randy and I worked very closely on this project. We both use the Q10’s—to ensure that we’re both hearing the same thing—and we both love them.”
While at Abbey Road Studios, Ahi reports that pre-records, a choir, some female vocal tracks, and a Chinese ensemble were recorded. Additionally, a collection of London’s finest percussionists was assembled for some of the film’s spectacular percussion tracks, and these parts were recorded at both Abbey Road and AIR Studios.
In anticipation of moving between studios, Ahi made it a point of learning Equator Audio’s control and room optimization software. The Equator Control software application enables a mix engineer to manually compensate for acoustic anomalies, and it also provides extraordinary control over the monitors—including equalization, mute, solo, and phase. The Automated Room Analyzer software addresses issues created by speaker placement, boundary conditions, standing waves, and secondary reflections by examining a chosen position with a calibrated microphone. Together, they enable one to fine tune the monitors to the room for the best possible monitoring reference. Ahi’s time was well spent and the process is considerably easier than he initially expected.
“With the Equator room optimization software,” said Ahi, “I was able to set the monitors for the characteristics of my room and feel very confident about what I was hearing in no time at all. This software is a tremendous asset, as it enables you to tune the environment so you’re not hampered by reflections and other acoustic anomalies. Every room is slightly different and this is where the software really excels. It enables you to level the playing field between room discrepancies so that what you hear remains consistent from one room to another. It’s easy to use and is extremely user friendly. I feel the software is just brilliant.”
Ahi continued, “I suspect that many Equator monitors will find a home in project and home studios that aren’t acoustically treated to the level of the big commercial studios. In these instances, the Equator software will, unquestionably, be an invaluable aid in helping audio professionals achieve better results.”
These monitors enable me to mix confidently—knowing that what I do in the studio will sound the way it’s supposed to when played back on other systems. For me, that’s says it all.
With a track record like his, Ahi can work with any studio monitor of his choosing. So why did he select the Equator Q10’s? “I’ve used monitors from a number of the leading names in the industry,” said Ahi. “Prior to selecting my Q10’s, I auditioned several other brands and spent a lot of time evaluating those systems. I can say without the slightest reservation that, for me, the Equator Q10’s were the right choice. They deliver a very natural, accurate sound that never gets harsh or fatiguing, and that’s really important since I spend lot of time sitting in front of them. These monitors enable me to mix confidently—knowing that what I do in the studio will sound the way it’s supposed to when played back on other systems. For me, that’s says it all.