Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum engineer, producer, and songwriter Smith Carlson has voiced his approval for the PreSonus Sceptre S8 CoActual two-way studio monitors, which have become a major part of his set-up lately.
Carlson began his career at Chalice Recording Studios in Los Angeles, working on projects from Dave Grohl, Kanye West, and the television show Glee. He went on to work under Danja Handz, spent six months working with Pharrell Williams, and engineered for Sean “Diddy” Combs. In recent years, he has worked with such acts as Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé, U2, and Demi Lovato.
“The Sceptre S8s are very flat and accurate, which is what I look for,” Carlson commented. “But they’re not boring; my mixes still have life. In fact, it’s exciting to produce with Sceptres. I don’t even know how it’s possible to be flat and accurate and still exciting but S8s accomplish it. I haven’t found that in many other speakers. Once I’m finished mixing on the S8s, I don’t have to check on different speakers and then go back and remix. I end up with a great mix that translates to anywhere.”
Many Sceptre users use the speakers’ rear-panel tuning controls to adjust to their spaces. But according to Carlson, his room is so well designed and tuned that the Sceptre S8s sound accurate with only one minor tweak. "I filtered off the bass a little bit, and it worked really well. Otherwise, I don’t change the settings because I don’t need to, and besides, I don’t really know what that would do to my signal,” he explained.
Carlson appreciates the S8s’ low-end reproduction: “Recently, I’ve been using S8s for every hip-hop project because the low end comes through really nicely,” he enthused. “They were a lifesaver! Nothing comes close to S8s sonically at their price point.”
PreSonus’ ADL 700 preamp/channel strip is another Carlson favourite: “I mostly use my ADL 700s for instrumental foundation tracks,” he stated. “The preamp sounds very clean, and it seems to help tame the highs, which makes it great on acoustic guitar. It’s also great for electric guitar and fantastic for DI electric bass. I use the ADLs for synths all the time, as well.”
One of the features Carlson is most impressed by is the ability to switch the order of the EQ and the compressor in the signal chain. He rarely uses the compressor, “but the EQ is fantastic. It’s really easy to use and the frequency bands are spread out nicely.”